Buying Access To Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge

Buying Access To Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge

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Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge Doha is one of the world’s best airport lounges. When I recently reviewed Qatar Airways’ 777 first class, there were several questions about Qatar Airways’ first class lounge access policies.

In this post I wanted to provide a guide on how to access the Al Safwa First Lounge, as this can cause some confusion. Furthermore, it’s possible to buy access to the Al Safwa Lounge, so I wanted to talk about that as well.

Why Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge is great

The Al Safwa Lounge is Qatar Airways’ most premium lounge, and it’s a pretty special place. To me the space almost feels more like a museum than a lounge, given its architecture and design.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge

Like any airport lounge, there are a variety of seating options.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge

The lounge also has a restaurant area, with a solid food selection, and an even better wine selection. You can find the current food & drink list here.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge

Arguably the most useful feature of the lounge is the private bedrooms, which are available on a first come, first served basis. Guests can use these at no extra cost for a period of up to six hours, though you need at least four hours until departure to be able to use one.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge

The lounge also has a spa, which even has a whirlpool. However, use of the spa (including the whirlpool) is only available on a paid basis.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge

Who can access the Al Safwa First Lounge?

First and foremost, the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge is available to those traveling in Qatar Airways first class. That’s not as straightforward as it sounds, though, since Qatar Airways takes an unconventional approach to how it markets the forward cabins on its flights.

Qatar Airways’ “real” first class is available on the Airbus A380, which is flown to destinations like London and Paris.

Qatar Airways Airbus A380 first class

On top of that, Qatar Airways is temporarily leasing some Cathay Pacific 777s with first class, so that increases Qatar Airways’ first class footprint. These planes are being flown to Male and Zurich.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 first class

Now this is where it gets complicated. Qatar Airways also markets the forward cabin on some flights within the Gulf region as first class rather than business class, even when there isn’t a “true” first class cabin. Why is that? Well, presumably because those flights are largely filled with Qataris, and Qatar Airways is a government owned airline, so I assume the airline wants to offer an elevated experience for local passengers.

So you’ll notice that the business class cabin on flights within the Gulf is often marketed as first class rather than business class (and there’s simply no business class). This includes flights to Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, Riyadh, etc. This isn’t always the case, though. For example, on flights to Salalah, the forward cabin is still marketed as business class.

Short haul business class is often marketed as first class

Note that Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge access isn’t just granted before the first class segment, but also prior to any connecting business class segment. Pre-pandemic there were more restrictions when connecting from first class to business class, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

In other words:

  • If you fly Qatar Airways first class from London to Doha and then Qatar Airways business class from Doha to Bangkok, you could use the Al Safwa First Lounge during your layover
  • If you fly Qatar Airways first class from Dubai to Doha and then Qatar Airways business class from Doha to Los Angeles, you could use the Al Safwa First Lounge during your layover

Beyond first class passengers, Qatar Airways Platinum members also get Al Safwa First Lounge access when traveling in business class. However, note that other oneworld Emerald members don’t get Al Safwa First Lounge access. Unfortunately Qatar Airways isn’t great when it comes to admitting oneworld elites to its most premium lounges.

How much does it cost to buy access to the Al Safwa First Lounge?

Here’s a potentially great opportunity — Qatar Airways also sells access to its Al Safwa First Lounge for 600 QAR (~$165). There are some restrictions associated with this, though:

  • Buying access to the Al Safwa First Lounge is only available to Qatar Airways business class passengers who would otherwise be eligible for Al Mourjan Business Lounge access, including those who paid cash or redeemed miles for their tickets (but not those who upgraded)
  • Technically you can spend at most six hours in the lounge when you purchase access, though anecdotally that restriction doesn’t seem to be enforced all that much, beyond limiting people to six hours in a bedroom
  • There are some reports that only those with tickets issued by Qatar Airways (and not partner airlines, like American Airlines) can buy access to the Al Safwa Lounge; this doesn’t seem to be consistent, and if this is the case, it’s a fairly new rule
  • There are capacity controls and this option isn’t guaranteed, so in some cases you may not be allowed to purchase access depending on crowding, the agent on duty, etc.

To purchase access to the Al Safwa First Lounge, just proceed directly to the lounge. At the bottom of the escalator, inform the agent of your intentions. If they’re selling access at that time, you should be directed to the front desk at the entrance to the lounge, where your payment will be processed.

Buy Al Safwa access directly at the lounge

Is it worth buying access to the Al Safwa First Lounge?

Is it worth paying $165 to access the Al Safwa First Lounge if you’re flying in Qatar Airways business class? The first thing to keep in mind is that you should look at the value here on an incremental basis, since the alternative is accessing the Al Mourjan Business Lounge. The question is really if you should pay $165 to access the Al Safwa Lounge over the Al Mourjan Lounge.

Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge

Here’s my take:

  • This probably isn’t worth it if you just have a quick layover of one to two hours, which is how much time most Qatar Airways passengers have, given that the Doha hub is heavily banked
  • That being said, if you have a significantly longer layover, and particularly if you want to sleep, then I think paying to access the Al Safwa Lounge makes sense; being able to sleep in a real bed for a few hours between flights is awesome, the alcohol selection is potentially pretty great, and the food is also much better than in the business class lounge

Just keep in mind that the bedrooms are available on a first come, first served basis, so if you show up after a rush of other passengers, these might not be available for some amount of time.

If you have a long layover in Doha but plan to stay airside, also keep in mind that as an alternative there’s an airside airport hotel, which is a great place to get some rest.

Bottom line

The Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge is a pretty awesome first class lounge with some complicated entry requirements. The lounge is open to first class passengers, including those traveling on short haul flights. On top of that, it’s possible for select business class passengers to buy access to the lounge for ~$165, which could represent a decent value.

The Al Safwa Lounge has good dining and drinks, private bedrooms, and a spa with paid treatments.

If you’ve accessed the Al Safwa Lounge (including buying access), what was your experience like?

Conversations (46)
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  1. Jack Guest

    I’ll be traveling AMM-DOH-IHA.
    My 1st leg is in first class, and 2nd is business class.

    According to your post, I should be granted access to Al Safwa lounge during my DOH transit.

    Is there a policy anywhere that says that or is it at the reception’s discretion?

  2. Adventure NML Guest

    Adding one more data point that I was also just told they don't let AA Award tickets in business do the purchase option anymore :(. He did confirm the price was the $160ish, IF my ticket were on QR ticket stock :(

    They were out of sleeping rooms tonight anyhow so Al Mourjan will still be very solid. I'll miss the spa and massages though. We were able to upgrade on our AA tickets back in 2019 and it was incredible.

    1. Adventure NML Guest

      (also noting that at least in 2019, whirlpool access was free)

  3. DC Guest

    My husband and I are traveling together JED-DOH-MAD-XRY. He has a first class ticket from JED to DOH, and Business to MAD. I have an economy ticket. He would have been able to access the Al Safwa lounge, but I was told I could go to the Silver South lounge. Should my husband have been able to bring me in as a guest?

  4. Ron Guest

    Interesting about the 5 hour rule not being en forced. I'm booking CAI-DOH-SFO, with CAI-DOH being First (Class A) and DOH-SFO Business (Class I). Expect a long layover but based on this, sounds like we should get in to the First lounge. Does that seem right? Thanks for posting.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ron -- Yep, based on the current policy you should get access, it seems.

  5. MJS Guest

    Anyone who looks at that whiskey list and thinks it's anything but mediocre, obviously doesn't drink good whiskey. In the past I considered purchasing the upgrade. Now, it would be a hard pass for me.

  6. Chris Guest

    Price has gone up. Jan ‘19, I paid $50 for entrance.

  7. BD Guest

    It's true. 3 weeks ago, Flying on Qatar Business Paid, but Marketed by American, we were turned away, even for a purchase

  8. Adam D. Guest

    As many others have noted, I was also unable to pay for access to Al Safwa in March on a QR Business Class ticket because it was issued by AA. (with AA tkt number) Having said that, I am flying on a pure QR Business Class ticket in June and was already able to prepay online in my booking for access to Al Safwa for only 500QAR or $135USD in case anyone else is in a similar situation.

  9. David Guest

    I purchased access a number of years ago pre-pandemic. I really enjoyed the use of the bedrooms, but I was told to leave at the end of my 6 hours, not withstanding that there was only one other person in the lounge. I do remember though that I found the ceiling lighting to be over-bright, which I found made it difficult to relax in the seating areas.

  10. Cliburn Guest

    I did the buy up this week on an ORD-DOH-MLE ticket where we had just over a 6 hour layover. The lounge had maybe 25 other guests and was quiet and peaceful. Had a nice meal at the restaurant. A nice seafood soup to start. Then had the steak -- which was actually cooked to order and pretty good. The champagne right now was 2008 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. But the standout was a...

    I did the buy up this week on an ORD-DOH-MLE ticket where we had just over a 6 hour layover. The lounge had maybe 25 other guests and was quiet and peaceful. Had a nice meal at the restaurant. A nice seafood soup to start. Then had the steak -- which was actually cooked to order and pretty good. The champagne right now was 2008 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. But the standout was a 2008 Ducru-Beaucaillou which paired great with the steak. After dinner we asked for and received a sleeping room. It was very comfortable. Beats the madhouse of the Al Mourjan lounge IMO. The current menu and wine list is available online.
    https://www.qatarairways.com/content/dam/hia/pdf/al-safwa-dining-en.pdf

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Cliburn -- Thanks so much for the data point, appreciate the link to the menu and wine list as well. If you don't mind me asking, how did you issue your ticket? It wasn't an AAdvantage award ticket by chance, was it?

    2. Cliburn Guest

      No, I purchased a cheap business class ticket a year ago directly from Qatar. I was able to upgrade lounge access on manage my reservation for $137. Flying home tonight.... would love to do the F upgrade, but QR wants $1330 for it. I tried using Avios, but I get the dreaded "activity not allowed" warning.... guess there is some issue with my QR FF account.....

  11. S&S Guest

    Forever single Bonvoy just found a friend in Al Safwa.
    #AlSafwowd

  12. Jeff Guest

    So what happens if you fly from Singapore to Doha business class then you spend a 3-day stopover in Qatar and your onward journey to devise in first class are you able to use the first class lounge when you come to the airport to commence the 2nd leg of the journey?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jeff -- Sorry, I'm not sure I follow? If your flight out of Doha is in first class (regardless of how much time you spend in Doha) then you'd get access to the Al Safwa Lounge.

  13. Peggy Guest

    What if the 1st leg is business n the 2nd leg is First Class, am i able to use the First Class Lounge during layover? TIA

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Peggy -- Is the second leg from Doha? If so, yes.

  14. DMNYC Member

    Ben, I believe access is also granted for those ticketed in F on other OW airlines. E.g. those in BA F when they flew to LHR had access, and presumably those in AA F when that route starts will also have access.

  15. Michael Guest

    You say the wine is great, but it would be helpful to see the actual wine list so we can make a fully informed decision...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Michael -- I updated the post to add a link to the menu and wine list.

  16. Shane Swanson Guest

    When in Doha in March, we were told buying access to Al Safe lounge on business tickets purchased with miles must be with tickets bought with Qatar's miles rather than AAdvantage miles.

  17. KK13 Guest

    I have been to the Al Safwa lounge few times, incl. when they used to charge only $65 (around 2018?). The lounge is humongous, but has excellent food and drink, ambience, room and bed, bathrooms and spa service. I had a seven hour layover, totally worth the price.

    Another time I had a 14 hour layover, so I stayed at a 5-star hotel in Doha, courtesy to QR's $28 per night promo. That deal...

    I have been to the Al Safwa lounge few times, incl. when they used to charge only $65 (around 2018?). The lounge is humongous, but has excellent food and drink, ambience, room and bed, bathrooms and spa service. I had a seven hour layover, totally worth the price.

    Another time I had a 14 hour layover, so I stayed at a 5-star hotel in Doha, courtesy to QR's $28 per night promo. That deal a is great if you want to have a short trip to the dunes, walk along the beaches or shop.

  18. Saad Guest

    Just recently flew RUH-DOH-BOS with the first segment in first and second in business. I was told I can’t use the first class lounge as my second segment is business. QR Twitter people also said I can’t access the first class lounge. Is this policy where you can enter the lounge if your first segment is in first written anywhere ?

  19. EthaninSF Member

    I accessed the Al Safwa back in 2018 on a paid F ticket (BKK-DOH-CDG) with a long layover to utilize the sleeping rooms. The lounge is absolutely stunning in terms of design. And the sleeping rooms are very nice with real beds. However, the food was nothing special (compared to other F lounges). The lounge was super empty when I was there and seemed almost deserted. I went to the spa and inquired about using...

    I accessed the Al Safwa back in 2018 on a paid F ticket (BKK-DOH-CDG) with a long layover to utilize the sleeping rooms. The lounge is absolutely stunning in terms of design. And the sleeping rooms are very nice with real beds. However, the food was nothing special (compared to other F lounges). The lounge was super empty when I was there and seemed almost deserted. I went to the spa and inquired about using the hot tub - they said it was not a problem and was free (and did not charge me to use it). I would agree with @lucky and say that with a long layover, it would be nice to access, but not a huge change in amenities over the Al Mourjan (which for a business class lounge is very nice).

  20. Daniel B. Guest

    Last year we travelled on a AA Business Class Award ticket, the last leg (DOH-MCT) coded as First class.
    We were admitted to Al Safwa without any problem.

  21. Adam Guest

    There are 30+ reports on FT of post pandemic QR letting ppl in when arriving on F and departing J, regardless of the 5 hour rule. DXB-DOH-xxx (in J) now gets you in. I dont know if its official or what but certainly seems like the 5 hour rule on arriving F is no longer a thing.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Adam -- Thanks! It does indeed look like this policy has changed since the start of the pandemic, so I'll update the post to reflect that.

  22. Cy Guest

    Travelled on qsuite about 6 months ago and bought access during an 8 hour layover for wife and I. Was told before we bought access that it explicitly did not include the sleep rooms. The lounge was also almost completely empty while we were there, so I doubt it was a capacity issue...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Cy -- Unfortunately Qatar Airways lounge agents are notorious for making up random and arbitrary rules. There's no such restriction. I assume you didn't try to get one of the rooms after entering the lounge, to see if they'd allow it?

    2. AR Guest

      My father was in QR paid J in March, they quoted him $165/hr for the upgrade if he wanted a sleeping room!

    3. Cy Guest

      @Ben: we didn’t we spent the time blissfully drinking as much champagne as we could and enjoying the empty lounge. Honestly we weren’t too bothered

  23. Kyle Guest

    Two quick quibbles, Ben:

    -Since reopening after its pandemic closure, Al Safwa has had a policy (unofficially? I'm not sure) of allowing all first class passengers upon arrival - not just those arriving from long-haul F flights.
    -While there is plenty to love about Al Safwa, it's a stretch to say the food is "much better" than what's available in Al Mourjan. The wine? No question.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Kyle -- I agree the food isn't amazing (due to lack of open flames in the kitchen), but I do think it's a significant step up over Al Mourjan, especially during peak hours, given how busy the business class lounge gets.

      And thanks for the heads up on the other point, I've updated the post to reflect that.

  24. RetiredATLATC Gold

    For 3 years flying QR BGW-DOH-ATL-DOH-BGW in J (F coded BGW-DOH/DOH-BGW) I had access and never realized it. Al Safwa wasn't any slouch, but I kick myself knowing (now) that I had access and didn't use it.

    Paid for it once enroute to MLE and it was sublime.

    1. Bibs Guest

      And nobody checking you in at Al Murjan told you that? That´s disappointing to say the least.

  25. Reyyan Member

    A few more notes on who gets access:

    - First class award tickets issued by other Oneworld airlines than QR (Access granted)
    - Qatar Platinum member upgrading from economy to business with Qcredits (Access granted). Reports mention it is not possible, however I was able to access it with no issues.
    - Qatar Platinum member flying a J award ticket issued other than QR (NO access)

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Reyyan -- Those are some random/complicated restrictions, eh?

  26. John G Guest

    But it has to be on a Qatar issued ticket. I just tried on an AA Business Award and was declined because if it's not on a Qatar ticket number they have no way of processing the additional collection. I had trouble believe this so when I arrived at the Business class lounge, I inquired again and was told the same.

    Hope this helps

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ John G -- Hmm, I feel like you may have had an agent making up their own rules, because there are plenty of data points of people on AAdvantage awards buying access. They definitely have a way to process the payment, as they have a credit card reader there. It's not like it's charged to the same card you used to pay for your ticket.

    2. Steve from LA Guest

      Nope. John G is correct. Last month, we had QR Biz Class tickets paid for with AAdvantage miles and were denied even the opportunity to pay to get into Al Safwa because the ticket was issued by AA not QR. We were told this by three different agents.

    3. GoAmtrak Gold

      @Lucky I had the same experience as John last month. AA-issued biz award, was told not possible to buy in. That said, buying in to the hotel spa was a great and healthier alternative!

    4. Karens Guest

      I can confirm to the above. I managed to buy my way in back in 2019 using JL issued QR award tix, but this month i was not allowed to do so. The agent said rules had changed.

  27. Palty Guest

    Hi Ben
    I just flew IAD-DOH-DXB
    The first segment was buisness class whilst the 2nd leg (short hop to dubai) was as you said "ticketed" first class howveer the seat was a standerd q suite business class and I indeed got to use the al safwa lounge in Doha on my layover since the 2nd leg had the words "first class" on it

    Another very intresting point
    Booking the 2nd leg in First actually worked out cheaper than booking the short leg into economy in terms of avios

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Shane Swanson Guest

When in Doha in March, we were told buying access to Al Safe lounge on business tickets purchased with miles must be with tickets bought with Qatar's miles rather than AAdvantage miles.

1
KK13 Guest

I have been to the Al Safwa lounge few times, incl. when they used to charge only $65 (around 2018?). The lounge is humongous, but has excellent food and drink, ambience, room and bed, bathrooms and spa service. I had a seven hour layover, totally worth the price. Another time I had a 14 hour layover, so I stayed at a 5-star hotel in Doha, courtesy to QR's $28 per night promo. That deal a is great if you want to have a short trip to the dunes, walk along the beaches or shop.

1
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Reyyan -- Those are some random/complicated restrictions, eh?

1
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