The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is taking place from November 21 to December 18, 2022.
This year, instead of the summertime football fever that fans around the world are accustomed to every four years, we’ll be experiencing a winter World Cup for the first time.
Now’s a great time to start planning your trip if you’re interested in visiting Qatar to experience the World Cup in-person – especially with Team Canada looking quite likely to qualify for the first time since 1986 (fingers crossed).
In this article, let’s go over some of the best strategies for travelling to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup, while using points to cover the major expenses and optimize your trip. We’ll update this article throughout 2022 as more information becomes available, too.
World Cup Match Tickets: Going On Sale Soon
Match tickets for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 have not yet gone on sale.
I’d expect the ticket application process to begin shortly, given that there are usually multiple rounds of ticket sales prior to the tournament, including both first-come first-serve and lottery-style processes.
Keep an eye on this page on the FIFA website for upcoming news on ticket sales.
Outside of individual match tickets, FIFA’s hospitality packages are already on sale. However, these packages start at US$950 per group match and are far more expensive than buying individual match tickets, so we won’t be focusing on them in this article.
As we await further developments on buying tickets, it’s worth noting that making travel plans around attending this year’s World Cup should prove much easier than past tournaments.
That’s because all the venues are easily accessible from Doha, the capital of Qatar. This is unlike past editions in Brazil and Russia, when travellers needed to plan out a series of domestic flights as well.
Booking Flights to Qatar
Most major airlines around the world open up their flight schedules about 11–12 months in advance of the travel date. Therefore, now’s a great time to start looking at booking flights to Qatar during the World Cup.
As you can imagine, round-trip airfare from North America to Doha during World Cup dates is currently fairly high. Multi-stop itineraries can be booked in the range of $1,500 (CAD), while more direct routings verge closer to $2,000+ (CAD).
However, if you’ve racked up some rewards points and are looking to make a memorable trip out of the World Cup, then your best bet is to book business class or First Class flights to travel to the tournament in style.
The nature of airline award availability during special tournaments is always a mysterious beast. If you see award space that you like, it’s best to lock in a booking before it goes away or gets booked up by someone else.
Let’s go over some of the best premium flight options to Doha and surrounding areas that currently have award space during the tournament dates.
With Aeroplan points, you can take advantage of ample availability on Etihad Airways’s Toronto–Abu Dhabi route on the Etihad 787 Business Studio. Adding on a short-haul flight to Doha, the whole thing would cost you 85,000 Aeroplan points per direction.
You could even travel in Etihad Airways 787 First Class on the Washington–Abu Dhabi route for 120,000 Aeroplan points.
There’s also plenty of award space on EgyptAir via Cairo, although on a significantly less attractive business class product.
Air Canada does operate a direct Toronto–Doha flight, although business class pricing is dynamically high during the tournament dates, and eUpgrade space is also zeroed out for the time being (which is understandable, since Air Canada is presumably very confident of selling these seats for cash).
From any other Canadian origin city besides Toronto, you’ll most likely need to connect via Toronto or a US gateway city in order to book a partner flight to the Middle East at a reasonable points price.
There are a few options outside of Aeroplan points to consider, although they’re more limited. That’s because Qatar Airways, known for their Qsuites business class and a natural choice of airline en route to the World Cup, appears to have zeroed-out their long-haul business class award availability during the World Cup period (starting at about November 10–15).
Qatar Airways may choose to release Qsuites awards in the future, but I wouldn’t count on it as a certainty. If you’d like to fly Qsuites en route to Doha for the World Cup, your best option is to book something else as a backup, and then change your plans to Qsuites if it becomes available.
You might be able to find the occasional Royal Jordanian flight from North America to Amman, from which it’s only another 1.5-hour hop over to Doha. The flight from the East Coast to Amman would cost 92,750 Avios in business class.
Finally, there’s sporadic availability during World Cup dates from Toronto to Dubai on Emirates First Class for 136,250 Emirates Skywards miles, sometimes for two passengers.
From other US gateway cities, Seattle might be a good choice for West Coast residents looking to make the long trip over for 155,000 Emirates Skywards miles.
There doesn’t appear to be much award space on the short-haul Dubai–Doha route, so you may need to make your way by car to Abu Dhabi and then fly over on Etihad (more on this below).
Whether you’re looking to fly in economy, business, or First Class, there’s plenty of options at this early stage to book flights to Qatar at a good value during the World Cup.
If you’re interested in attending, I’d recommend locking in a flight option that you’d be happy with well in advance, and then optimizing the journey in the months leading up to the tournament.
Booking Accommodations in Qatar
While booking flights on points for the World Cup is looking very feasible, it’s a different story when it comes to hotels and places to stay.
Qatar has a fairly limited hotel capacity that will be stretched to its maximum to accommodate the millions of spectators from around the world during the winter of 2022.
To facilitate the hotel booking process, the Qatari government will be using a dedicated portal for visitors to book accommodations, which will include the usual hotels and apartments, plus dedicated “fan villages” and cruise ships docked in Doha’s waters for visitors to stay in.
Hotels and guesthouses are not permitted to take bookings directly. There are a grand total of four properties charging exorbitant prices on Airbnb, which are presumably being listed in contravention of Qatar’s regulations.
The state-run accommodations agency has not yet opened up, although visitors can register their interest on the FIFA website.
You’ll have the option to indicate your preferred accommodation type, as well as your preferred star rating level between three and five stars. I’m very curious what the five-star fan villages are going to be like…
This unique system for managing Doha accommodations also means that it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll be able to use our hotel rewards points to book hotels in Doha during the World Cup.
(Indeed, some eagle-eyed Marriott Bonvoy members had been able to redeem points at the Four Points by Sheraton Doha when some award space was briefly available. However, the hotel has since reached out to inform guests that the reservation will not be honoured as per the State of Qatar’s local regulations.)
I’d expect that we’ll find out more details about booking accommodations through the state portal very shortly. In terms of pricing, the hotel stay add-ons to the FIFA hospitality packages give us some idea of what type of nightly rates to expect…
Given the limited supply and huge demand, I’d certainly expect the accommodations to make up most of the budget for World Cup attendees. Consider using fixed-value points like Scotia Scene+ points to cover some of these expenses.
Alternatively, there’s one more possibility for enjoying a few weeks in the Middle East without paying Doha’s sky-high hotel rates…
Worth Considering: Base Yourself Elsewhere in the Middle East
Given the high costs of remaining in Qatar for a portion of the World Cup, let alone the entire tournament, it might be a good idea to plan a longer trip around the Gulf region and hop in and out of Qatar for only a few days to attend matches and/or soak in the atmosphere.
Regional flights are understandably overpriced during the tournament dates, but that’s where the power of rewards points is clear to see.
There’s plenty of award space on Etihad’s daily Abu Dhabi–Doha service for only 7,500 Aeroplan points in economy class…
…as well as Royal Jordanian’s Amman–Doha flight for 9,000 Avios in economy or 16,500 Avios in business class.
With Etihad’s schedule of six daily flights between the two cities, you could conceivably base yourself in Abu Dhabi (where plenty of hotels can be booked on points for a good value) for the duration of your World Cup trip and make short trips to Doha to attend matches or FIFA Fan Fests.
Or, perhaps you could plan a two- or three-night stay in Doha to stop by the World Cup as part of a larger Middle East trip to see more of the region’s highlights, like Amman, Petra, and Wadi Rum in Jordan, the decadence of Dubai, or the stunning landscapes of Oman or Saudi Arabia.
Whether you’re an ardent football fan or someone who simply wants to experience the atmosphere of the world’s biggest sporting event as a bucket list item, now’s the time to start planning a trip to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022 if you’re interested in attending.
There are many ways to book a memorable flight in business class or First Class en route to the Middle East, whether you’re using Aeroplan points, British Airways Avios, or any other rewards currency.
Meanwhile, booking a place to stay in Qatar will be be a trickier proposition. All accommodations are to be booked through a dedicated state-run portal, which makes it all-but impossible to redeem points at a good value.
Consider using fixed-value points to cover some of the accommodation costs, or base yourself elsewhere in the Middle East as a creative way to save money while seeing more of the region.
It won’t be long until we find out more details about buying match tickets and booking accommodations for the World Cup, and we’ll be updating this guide throughout 2022 as we build up to the big event in Qatar.