Qatar Airways Selling First Class Lounge Access (Including On Award Tickets)

Filed Under: Qatar

Update: It appears that the cost of access has now been raised to 600QAR per person.

Qatar Airways offers two spectacular lounges at Doha Hamad International Airport:


Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge Doha

Why the Al Safwa First Class Lounge is way underutilized

The Al Mourjan Lounge is consistently pretty crowded, given just how many business class passengers Qatar Airways has. The lounge has been so crowded that the airline has added some unprecedented restrictions to lounge access, like in some cases denying access to upgraded passengers.

The Al Safwa Lounge is a very different story, however, and rarely has more than a dozen people in it. This is because Al Safwa Lounge access is limited to those traveling in first class, which only includes those traveling on their Airbus A380 aircraft (which operate a limited number of routes), plus those traveling on one of the intra-Gulf routes.


Qatar Airways A380 first class

The catch is that the number of flights within the Gulf has been hugely reduced the past couple of years given the blockade, as the airline no longer flies to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which were previously their biggest markets.

So logically you’d think the airline would do something to try and shift around the lounge crowding a bit, to alleviate congestion in the Al Mourjan Lounge.


Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Doha

Qatar Airways selling Al Safwa Lounge access

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Qatar Airways began selling first class lounge access to business class passengers. A FlyerTalk member reported that he asked about this at the business class lounge, and they told him he could buy access for 350QAR (~96USD).

Then when he actually went to the first class lounge he was charged 250QAR (~67USD).

Initial reports suggested that this was only available to “paid” business class passengers, though I’ve now received several data points from readers on this:

  • Buying access to the Al Safwa Lounge is also available to those on award tickets
  • When you buy access to the lounge, you can spend at most six hours there
  • The price seems to consistently be 250QAR, rather than the rumored 350QAR
  • There are still some inconsistencies when it comes to buying access, with some reporting that they weren’t allowed to buy access, but it seem unrelated to whether or not people are on award tickets
  • I haven’t been able to get official clarification regarding what Qatar’s actual policy is here, so it very much seems to be a case of “your mileage may vary,” and who knows how long this offer will remain at the current cost

Buying access to Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa Lounge for under $70 is a spectacular value. Like, I would pay that in a heartbeat. The Al Safwa Lounge has a solid restaurant with a la carte dining…


Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Doha

It has private bedrooms you can rest in…


Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Doha

Heck, you could get more than your entrance fee with just a glass or two of wine/champagne, give the quality of the stuff they serve in the lounge.

I can’t help but encourage anyone who is eligible to take advantage of this. In September I’ll have an eight hour overnight layover in Doha traveling as a group of three. My plan was to just book a couple of hotel rooms at the airside hotel, but if I could buy Al Safwa access for significantly less and get beds in there, that would be a much better deal.

That’s still many months away, though, so I’ll hold off before making my final decision there. I imagine the policy could change before then.

If you travel through Doha and give this a try, please report back with your experience!

Comments
  1. I just flew a full fare Business ticket from south Asia to JFK last week on Qatar. I wish I got the offer! Though the business lounge wasn’t the worst place you could be 😉

  2. I believe the Krug Clos Du Mesnil 2003 and even standard Krug were only for the festive period – they were unfortunantly not available when I recently transited through the Al Safwa (in paid F). The did have the very respectable Veuve Clicquot LGD.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I have a business class ticket IAD – DOH – SYD, though I bought it with Qantas points, so probably not an option for me, though it would be nice for nearly 5 hour transit.

    On that note, do you know if there’s a way to upgrade a single leg of a two-leg partner award ticket? I have a Qsuite 777 in the first leg and an A380 in the second, would be nice to finally try their F.

  4. I like it how when you speak of Etihad doing similar things, it’s all about “cost cutting”.
    But nothing like that when you speak about Qatar Airways, even though they have some financial issues as well.

  5. Lucky, Can you see what is going on with qatar airways award availability to oneworld partners? All usa- doha award availability have dried up overnight! I hope they are not leaving oneworld

  6. I would have thought that those flying on upgrades or awards would not get this deal. At least, if they want to keep the First lounge exclusive. Part of the appeal is that there aren’t many people in it, surely?

  7. @Conway
    Kuwait, Muscat, Sohar, Beirut, Amman, and Khartoum (the longest regional first class flight at 6 hours)

  8. @ Tom — Well we’ll see for sure, though I’m not exactly sure I get the difference in “exclusivity” there. The reality is that the lounge is way underutilized, so even if they have an extra dozen people at any point, it still won’t be anywhere near crowded.

  9. @ Ivan N — I didn’t say that. This change from Qatar is mutually beneficial. The business lounge is overcrowded and the first lounge is underutilized, so this in theory reduces crowding in the business lounge while generating incremental revenue. Furthermore, it’s not like the first lounge is actually exclusive — among their cheapest premium tickets are their regional first class tickets, and those passengers get access.

  10. Hi lucky, I have a first class ticket DOH-FRA (bought with BA avios) at 8 am, do you think I could check in the night before and spend the night in the lounge (in the private rooms)?

  11. I bough an economy ticket with Qatar Amman-Doha-Tbilisi and bough the first class lounge access in the same booking…. is it because I’m LATAM Gold member?

  12. God I really hope they allow access for award business tickets. Flying HKG-DOH-JFK in October with a 15 hour layover. Would love the lounge instead of a hotel! Although the Oryx hotel was only 80 USD.

  13. Just was granted access with an award ticket booked in business using AA miles — the lady working the lounge had to make a call, but said I was granted access at “the managers discretion” for 6 hours.

  14. Lucky,

    Re the “exclusivity” thing I was thinking how BA has two “First” lounges at Heathrow T5. There is one for those who qualify via elite levels, and then a better one for people who actually are flying First – The Concorde Room.

    That said I believe that F pax on awards can use TCR.

  15. Standby for report within 36 hours. I shall transit DOH on Paid Business Class QR/QR to USA in the morning of Jan 11 at the worst crowded time for Al Mourjan and shall definitely look how I can get into the F lounge and for how much. I also wonder whether being OW Emerald shall be a factor.

    A 3h10 layover is chaotic in Al Mourjan to get a shower at that time. I wonder how it will/would be in Al Safwa.

  16. make sense on some level, but at 100$ seems like its a drop in the ocean…I would have expected much more.

  17. I’ve been a QR critic with their doha lounges. Hate that overcrowded business lounge and they break the 1W guidelines denying access to the F lounge for 1W enerald. BA is different, they have a first lounge with concorde room then dedicated to actual first pax. Qatar doesn’t have same and should be allowing 1W emerald into 1st lounge. Poor.

  18. I used Al Safwa once (traveling regional F to Amman) and, unless you plan to binge on top-shelf booze, I frankly don’t think it’s worth the $67. Al Mourjan (when not totally packed) actually has a nicer design and ambience.

  19. Well, I spent a five hour layover yesterday afternoon/evening in the Al Moujan lounge and it was almost empty during that period. Go figure.

  20. @Crosscourt, there is a first class lounge right next to the busines lounge. These are for status holders travelling in Y. On top of that there is the Al Mourjan for J pax and Al Safwa for F pax.

    So like BA there is a dedicated lounge for F pax and one for OWE to use.

    QR breaks the rules to the same as BA. Admittedly, the Galleries F in T5 is nicer than the QR F lounge in DOH, but the lounges are there.

  21. I’m at the Al Mourjan right now, connecting JNB-IAD on an AA award in J. The lounge attendant confirmed both of us are eligible to purchase access for 250 QAR each (~$70 USD), though she needs to confirm “approval from the manager.” She took my boarding pass and checked some things on the computer before confirming we’re eligible. While the Al Mourjan is very busy right now, I don’t believe that offers much value to us at this time. However, given the nap rooms, it’s much cheaper to purchase access and use the nap room than to pay for a room at the Oryx Hotel (~300 USD).

  22. As announced on Wednesday, here is my take on the pay access to the First Class Al Safwa lounge in lieu of Business Class Al Mourjan when connecting tonight in Doha:

    First, It’s enormous, it’s beautiful, and it’s empty.

    Arriving at 4.10 AM for a 8 AM connection to JFK, I was greeted at the top of the escalator by a lone and nice if rather sleepy young lady, nobody ahead of me, and she had no concept of what I was referring to when I mentioned paid admittance. She didn’t try much but a supervisor was called and yes he knew about it.

    He offered admittance for QAR 250 (just under $ 70), then promptly charged my Amex for QAR 450 (“oops… my mistake, but the 200 QAR will be recredited within 2-3 weeks”. I asked him to recredit the QAR 200 immediately but “that was not possible unfortunatey”. I then told him that I would immediately dispute the charge with Amex, which he did not understand (I have already done so), so we remained good friends.
    This is a recurring problem with QR, often stellar in the sky (no pun intended), equally often terribly incompetent on the ground.

    The inside is stunning, probably as big as Al Mourjan, but while Al Mourjan increasingly looks, feels, tastes and smells like a terminal for low cost airlines, not 20 passengers inside Al Safwa, far more staff than users. Taking a shower is pure joy, and quick, no waiting, but you take your time to enjoy it. There are also spa treatment rooms and staff, but nothing was proactively offered.

    A whole wall displays artifacts from the Museum of Islamic Art and a very stylish fountain adorns the entrance to the restaurant. The decoration is a success.

    The Champagne is La Grande Dame, no Krug, but perfectly honest. The food is as bad as in Al Mourjan. Very little choice Slower too (no self service).

    As in the former Premium Terminal at the old airport (I miss that one…) there is a dedicated selection of high-end Duty Free… totally empty. There may have been a sales person but I did not see him/her.

    To sum it up, is it worth the QAR 250? For me Yes, ONCE, for the curiosity. Otherwise not and certainly not the QAR 450… But this is for each to decide.

    With practically no more FC service on QR (fewer regional flights and only A 380 long range F seats, a good use for this lounge would be to admit OW Business Class Emeralds, or even QR Program elites, which is unlikely as the program itself stinks and AAB keeps repeating he wants to leave OW.

    Que sera sera… More comments welcome.

  23. @ Pierre

    I was with you, except for this:

    “while Al Mourjan increasingly looks, feels, tastes and smells like a terminal for low cost airlines”

    That could only be written by someone who has never been to Luton Airport…

  24. @ The nice Paul

    You are absolutely right, I have never been to LTN, but your remark makes Luton look pretty bad. The fact is that, at peak times, Al Mourjan is pretty dismal… and smelly too. In particular and in spite of many attendants being present, the Mens / Ladies rooms are extremely Thirld World (*). Those in Al Safwa were spotless (and deserted, like the whole lounge).

    (*) Those at Orly and CDG are often even worse.

  25. Assume most other carriers with First class lounges wouldn’t follow this at the price of $70.00USD. I suspect they would charge considerably more. 250 USD. To me it’s worth the price but for most I don’t think so.

  26. I was here yesterday. Just a warning to everyone – the WiFi in both lounges is *atrocious*

    They use the general airport free WiFi. That’s right, there is no lounge WiFi.

    I spent probably one hour connecting, reconnecting, restarting my IPhone, and getting booted from WiFi.

    While the finishes are nice, spending several hours not getting a kick done because of horrible access significantly ruined my experience. FWIW.

  27. I will be there in about a month from now, traveling on an AA award from CPT back to NYC. We will have an 8 hours overnight layover in DOH, so we will probably go to the city for a couple of hours (I know everything will be closed, but just to see the skyline and whatnot) and when we are back we will definitely try to get in Al Safwa. I’ll report back.

  28. I have an 8 hour layover going through there on Friday evening and will happily pay 250 QAR. Will report back on the Ducru-Beaucaillou which is worth the entry fee in itself !

  29. I was not allowed access on an AA award, and the attendant specifically addressed it being issued by AA.. for what it’s worth. Two weeks ago

  30. I have a 5 hour layover in DOH to Bangalore using AA miles, and Qatar’s Twitter team insists you cannot purchase lounge access to Al-Safwa after several back and forths with them FWIW. Though I take what they say with a grain of salt.

    I’ll find out when I’m there in April.

  31. No Qatar award availability to/from USA on all routes starting around October. Seems availability was there then pulled about a month ago. So, this is pointless for now…

  32. Writing this from the lounge. They charged me 250 for six hours. They said you can renew after six hours. I am traveling on a paid QR issued business class ticket from Montreal to Bangkok. Food is excellent, though the menu is diverse it is also limited to 3 to 5 choices of appetizers and entrees. The champagnes and wines are outstanding. Using a quiet room with a shower. Definitely the way to go when transiting Doha. The interesting thing is while this lounge is massive and looks like a museum, there is in my estimation only seating for 75 to 100 people.

  33. I have a layover at DOHA from 4:40pm until 2am in October and was wondering if that’s enough time to leave the airport and do any sight seeing? I don’t drink so would there be any other reason to pay for lounge access to the 1st class lounge? I’m in biz class already and have Priority pass access to Al Maha transit lounge. How does that lounge rank against the others?

  34. Lucky, is it true they still serve Krug Clos du Mesnil 2003 in Al Safwa as of now? You edited this out.

  35. Does the QR policy of providing a free hotel room to Premium passengers with a QR/QR Business Class connection over 8 hours still apply?

    If YES, is the Airport Hotel included?

  36. Two weeks ago I paid for Al Safwa access … although it was QAR350. I was travelling on the BA codeshare EDI-PEN fare booked last year. Could the rate be variable if the flights were booked directly with QR?

    Like others have noted, the front desk had to call to get permission, and credit card payment was taken. They were explicit about the six hour stay limitations. The attendant sensed my excitement about the visit, and gave me a tour of all the facilities – the media room with lounge chairs and huge screen, the large, well equipped children’s area (and the small windowless nannie’s room with just chairs), the restaurant, artwork, duty free, etc. Very impressive.

    It was a Saturday night and there were perhaps just a dozen people in the lounge around midnight. By the time the 2am bank of flights left, I was the only one in the entire lounge! I highly recommend it for a longer layover for the experience.

  37. Did this very thing last week. One update: once you buy in, you can use the jacuzzi/relax room for free. You used to have to pay about $25 for that. So that was a nice surprise!

  38. Lucky! Thank you so much! Because of your article I was just able to purchase the first class lounge. It truly is amazing. I have a red eye flight to Dhaka and I hit the ground running for work so I love getting one of the rooms to shower and dress more appropriately to start my work day tomorrow! Thanks!

  39. Update on my previous post: After charging me QR 450 instead of 250 “by mistake” and refusing to adjust the CC charge while the card was still in their machine (morons…), they refunded the difference after 5 weeks. I plan to use the lounge again on March 9, as a shower, a change of clothes and breakfast within 3 hours are easy in that lounge, vs crowded and not sure in the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge. I find it very comfortable to have breakfast before my connecting flight and be able to go to sleep for hopefully 5-6 hours immediately after take off.

  40. I have had no reply on my Feb 3 question. Does anybody know ? Thank you

    February 3, 2019 at 3:59 am
    Does the QR policy of providing a free hotel room to Premium passengers with a QR/QR Business Class connection over 8 hours still apply?

    If YES, is the Airport Hotel included?

  41. Currently sitting in Al Safwa, only the 2 of us here! We were able to purchase access for 250 each (or roughly $69) and we are on AA award tickets.

  42. Against my better judgement, I tried it once again last Saturday as I had a 3 hour connection from NY to Marrakesh. Charged the traditional QRD 250 (and not 450 as done in error the previous time). The one big advantage is the immediate availability of a shower (and massage if you so desire) and the feeling that the whole place belongs to you as opposed to the lines in Al Mourjan.

    Otherwise, the restaurant is exasperatingly slow and inept. Even though I had plenty of time, 45 mnts for boiled eggs is not normal. There used to be a self service buffet area, that is gone.

    The architecture, decoration and artifacts are stunning. The place is still empty.

    I probably shall not fork out again the 250 QRD for short connections, but I have one for 9 hours in May and they provide individual rooms for use less than 6 hours. I’ll probably do it then.

  43. Hello can you please let me know how you booked first class lounge via the website?
    I am flying from Australia and after 14 hours will be desperate for acccess!
    I am flying economy but very happy to pay 🙂 Thankyou

  44. I will try it in a few days and I’ll let you know if it’ll work and my impression of the lounge!

  45. Will try this next week, have a 15hr overnight layover (LAX-DOH-CMN); flying AA 1World award biz class. Hoping I can get a nap room access.

    Given I have such a long overnight layover would getting a 24hr transit visa be worth it to venture to a real hotel?

    Suggestions welcome!

  46. I managed to have the access! I asked to the Business class lounge reception and he was very kind to make a call to the al Safwa lounge and after a minute he told me “ok they are waiting for you”! That was absolutely amazing considering that I had a 8 hours night layover in Doha and I could use the private room. Price 500 Qr x2 persons. I had two paid business class ticket. But in my opinion that doesn’t make the difference; the fact was that Al Safwa was completely empty and so they give you pay access. So I suppose it’s only question of luck and not of type of ticket. Al Safwa is amazing. La grande dame and more great wines are served. Thank you Qatar!
    Hope it helps.
    Antonio

  47. Data point from April 2019: Two passengers, award ticket (booked through AA). Access was offered for 250 Rial ($70) per person, and limited to 6 hours. No issues at all.

  48. Follow up from earlier post:
    Given that I had a 15 hr layover overnight Qatar Air offered to arrange a overnight accommodation at significantly reduced rate ($65US) at a hotel in downtown Doha, with free t/t transport. The hotel was fine and I enjoyed an evening out walking around the Medina and a stroll on the cornice.
    That said I purposely arrived the next morning with plenty of time to hang out in the business class lounge (free access) and enjoy the amenities throughout. Being a Tuesday AM with many biz travelers present the place never felt crowded at all.
    A good deal and pleasant experience and booking was award travel via AA one world.

    Will again try it out on my return flight in a couple of weeks.

  49. Lucky, I am most likely going to have an 8-hour overnight layover in Doha flying paid business class in late August, and was planning to get a room in the airport hotel. I priced it out for the one night and it was $260! I would much rather pay $70 USD or even $100 USD and get free food, bed etc using the first class lounge. It is open 24 hours, right?? The business class lounge only has weird curvy “lounge” style beds, not actual beds.

  50. Yes the lounges are open 24hrs and yes The airport hotel is priced high.
    While you can stay In any of the lounges mentioned do try first booking a hotel at the Qatar transfer desk upon arrival in Doha.
    If you happen to pay for your biz or first class ticket you can get a free overnight stay in town – I used award miles for my trip so I had to pay a modest amount (noted above). R/t transport was free and a hotel room and a shower felt better than what I felt a lounge could offer over night.
    The next morning I had plenty of time to enjoy the lounge for breakfast and chill before the second leg of my trip.

    Good luck!

  51. I was told this morning on Twitter by Qatar airways that passengers who are flying First class on an Intra gulf route won’t be allowed into the Al Safwa First class lounge if they are originating on a Business class ticket in the United States.

    Has anyone managed to get access to the Al Safwa lounge flying from the United States?

  52. @talent hacker: Yes, I flew from IAD-DOH-BOM (and BOM-DOH-IAD) in Qatar Business around June end. Walked straight to Al Safwa counter, bought lounge access for $67 without any hassles. Fantastic lounge, amenities, food, drinks and comfort, overall. I plan to do it again this Dec., as I have a 14-hour layover in Doha.

  53. @ben
    So how was your experience? Did you end up flying in September?

    I’m flying in a few weeks on an AA award AKL-DOH-CDG, ticketed in J but hoping to buy access…

    What’s the latest on award ticket access and fees?

    Thanks!

  54. I am a complete lounge newbie. My wife and I have paid business class tickets on QA in late April with layovers in DOH from 4:40pm to 2:10am (9.5 hrs) and on the return from 11:15 pm to 7:50am (8.5 hrs).
    Is the AM lounge likely to be crowded during those times?
    If we pay for access to the As lounge, should we do it for the first or last 6 hours of our layover?
    It sounds like we would be entitled to a free hotel stay in the city (which we would like) on both legs. That obviously would be cheaper than buying access to the AS lounge. Is the smart play to take the free hotel room and then got o the AM lounge for breakfast (and not pay for AS lounge access)?
    Please advise me! Thanks.

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