It may be coming home in nine days’ time, but what if you want to be anywhere but home when England lift the World Cup in Doha next Sunday?
City A.M. got the travel magazines out and scoured the web to see just whether it was still possible to get to Qatar.
Where in the world?
In order to enter Qatar visitors need a Hayya Card. This is effectively a fan ID which allows access to the country for the duration of the World Cup. Other visas are in place but these take time to process.
Ahead of the tournament it was suggested that five days would be needed to order and collect a Hayya Card – cutting it fine if you were to order one after tomorrow’s quarter-final – but the official tourism office specialising in the World Cup told City A.M. this week that these applications are now able to be processed within 48 hours. Ideal.
With this in mind, you could even wait to see whether England are still standing after Wednesday’s semi-final before getting a Hayya Card, although that’s cutting it fine.
Let’s go fly a kite
So you’ve got the card and you can enter the country, but how do you get there?
If you’re feeling civilised and fancy combining a trip with somewhere to sleep, you can fly to World Cup hosts Qatar and land around 6pm local time on Saturday 17 December, returning home at 12:35pm on Monday 17 December. This leisurely timescale will allow fans to take in the extreme heat as well as the pre- and post-match atmosphere. Those flights would cost you around £3,236.26 at time of reporting.
If you’re strapped for time and (some) cash and don’t want to book a night in a hotel, you could go rogue and not bother with a bed to sleep in. Again with Qatar Airways, you can leave London Heathrow at 8:30pm on Saturday night and land in the Middle East on Sunday at 6:20am.
With a 6pm kick-off you’d have 12 hours to kill – maybe you could see some sights and explore some cultural experiences.
After the match, which would finish at around 8:30pm with penalties, you could make a leisurely journey to the airport for a 1:50am flight home. With that scheduled to land at 6:25am, you could dash into the City on the Elizabeth Line and be at the office for 9am – all for £2,325.26.
Away from the national airline we did find a cheaper route, leaving Stansted at 8:20am on the Saturday and eventually landing in Qatar at 1am on Sunday. It involves a Ryanair flight to Bologna with a two-hour layover, a flight to Istanbul with a three-hour layover, and then a Pegasus Airlines flight to Doha. The return leaves at 4:45am on Monday and lands at Stansted, via Istanbul, 11 hours later – all for £899.
I want you to stay
If you’re to stay in Qatar for the duration of your trip, you can get hotels for £750 upwards for the two-night stay. Given much of the country was built especially for the World Cup most should be brand new, and not those portacabins.
Tickets, any tickets?
Now here’s the tough bit. All official tickets and match hospitality are currently completely sold out, but some are expected to go on resale once the finalists and semi-finalists have been confirmed.
Failing that, it may be best to organise a hotel or a fan zone to watch the World Cup final as Qatar has adopted a hardline approach to ticket touts, with some reportedly asking up to 50 times face value.
Thank you for using City A.M. as your unofficial travel partner and we do look forward to you travelling with us – theoretically – again.