After months of anticipation, American Airlines has finally inaugurated its first nonstop service from New York’s JFK to Doha, Qatar, ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The event will be hosted by the Middle Eastern hub later this year and will certainly reignite interest in Doha as a tourist destination.
While navigating a Covid-stricken world may have been our main priority in recent years, preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup have not slowed down one bit. Qatar has been quietly setting the stage to host one of the most important large-scale international events, and flight frequency to Doha is bound to increase exponentially:
American Launches New Flights To Doha… Daily
Expanding to Doha has been the goal for American Airlines for quite a while. Having first announced the service late last year, at a time when Omicron was sweeping the globe and travel restrictions were the norm, the carrier is finally launching its long-anticipated JFK flights to Qatar now that travel demand is back to pre-pandemic levels.
Like Dubai, Doha is a strategic hub connecting both the East and the West, as several Asia-bound American travelers have stopovers in Qatar before reaching their final destination. The fact that the World Cup is being hosted by the country will only add to Doha’s growing relevance as an international hub, and American Airlines is well aware of that.
By offering daily service from JFK to Doha, the carrier is seeking to establish a permanent presence in this competitive market, especially ahead of the World Cup, due to commence in November. At the same time, this is an opportunity for many U.S. citizens to fly to the heart of the Middle East with an U.S. flag carrier for the first time ever.
The route is open as of June 4, 2022, and American’s flight experience certainly does not lack the luxury Qatar Airways has traditionally provided on trips from JFK to Doha. For the big launch, the airline has deployed its opulent 304-seat Boeing 777-300ER, where four seating categories with varying degrees of comfort can be found:
- Flagship First (8 seats)
- Flagship Business (52 seats)
- Premium Economy (28 seats)
- Economy (216 seats)
At one end, Flagship First customers will have access to lie-flat seats, more privacy, and customized catering during the long 13-hour flight. At the other end, Economy passengers will enjoy up to 6” of recline and pitch between 31” and 36”, depending on seat allocation. Prices can vary between USD 1,436.87 for Economy and USD 10,200.33 for First Class one-way.
What Are The Timetables?
The AA120 flight leaves JFK every day at 00:55, arriving to Doha at 09:00 on the same day. Returning from Doha, U.S. citizens who choose to fly back home with American Airlines can expect the plane to take off at 01:35 and arrive to New York at 8:45. There are, of course, other options for both outbound and returning flights.
Customers can also book nonstop flights to and from Doha, operated by Qatar Airways, via American Airlines’ website, due to their new codeshare agreement. This agreement is of huge importance to Americans’ goals in the region, as increasing traffic to Doha will subsequently open doors to Asian destinations further afield.
Flights To Doha Will Open Many Doors To American Travelers
According to Brian Znotins, the company’s Vice President for Network and Schedule Planning, there is ‘very little demand‘ to Doha itself. While that could change once the World Cup starts this fall, as Znotins conceded, the focus remains on utilizing Doha’s excellent location as a connecting hub for the wider Middle East, India and even Africa.
Through the new codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways, Americans can now book flights via Doha to and from 16 new countries, proving it a successful endeavor already. American Airlines is not the only airline partnering with Qatar to increase flight offers: recently, JetBlue struck its own deal with the Middle Eastern giant, offering service to 182 destinations.
Is Qatar Open For American Tourists?
On the Covid front, Qatari authorities have remained tight-lipped regarding a full reopening ahead of the games, though the country eased some of its strictest entry requirements back in February. Currently, if you are a vaccinated American citizen, you are no longer subject to providing a negative PCR test, or requesting authorization to travel prior to boarding.
In sum, fully-immunized Americans are:
- Exempt from pre-departure testing
- Exempt from post-arrival testing
- Exempt from quarantine
Unvaccinated Americans must still observe other entry requirements, including pre-departure PCR tests within 48 hours of arriving to Qatar, and even enter mandatory quarantine at a government-designated hotel. For more information on Qatar’s Travel and Return Policy, tourists are advised to visit their official website.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com