Qatar Airways Opens Mariner Lounge In Doha, Exclusively For Seafarers & Offshore Workers

Filed Under: Qatar

Here’s a nice concept for a group of people who have largely been forgotten during the pandemic.

Qatar Airways’ new lounge for seafarers & offshore workers

While border restrictions have been tough on many people during the pandemic, seafarers and offshore workers have dealt with among the greatest challenges. For those working in international waters far from home, there have been all kinds of situations where people have been stranded for months.

For example, we’ve seen this for some cruise ship workers, who were on ships in international waters near the US, but weren’t allowed to enter the US. This creates a massive headache — how do you get people to the other side of the world when no one in a nearby country wants to let them in?

Qatar Airways claims it has repatriated over 150,000 seafarers during the pandemic, more than any other airline. The airline says it has worked closely with governments and the maritime industry to operate hundreds of chartered and scheduled flights to bring these workers home.

The airline has operated charter flights for the maritime industry to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Bridgetown, Barbados, Lomé, Togo, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, among other destinations.

To recognize the challenges that these workers have faced, Qatar Airways has decided to open a dedicated Mariner Lounge at Hamad International Airport, which is exclusively for seafarers and offshore workers.

As Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker describes this new lounge:

“Qatar Airways recognises the vital role shipping plays and how seafarers are essential to keeping the global economy open and operating. As a gesture of our thanks and to show our support to the industry, we have established a dedicated Mariner Lounge at Hamad International Airport that is complimentary for all seafarers and offshore workers travelling with Qatar Airways. While waiting for their connecting flight they can relax in comfort and enjoy the wide variety of refreshments on offer.”

What is the Qatar Airways Mariner Lounge like?

The new Mariner Lounge is located on the second level of the Duty Free Plaza at Doha Hamad International Airport, only a short walk from gates and other facilities.

The lounge features an international selection of food and beverages, high-speed wifi, shower facilities, a television area, reading materials, and a business center.

In order to access this lounge, seafarers and offshore workers who travel with Qatar Airways will need to show valid documentation to use the lounge while in transit.

How exactly did Qatar Airways open a new lounge so quickly? Well, the airline is currently only operating its Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge, which is where all eligible premium travelers are being directed.

The airline has closed its lounges for oneworld Emerald and oneworld Sapphire members, and the Priority Pass lounge in the terminal has also been closed. This space is where the former Al Maha Services Transit Lounge was located.

Qatar Airways Mariner Lounge Doha

Qatar Airways Mariner Lounge Doha

This is a cool concept, and kind of surprising

I have two major thoughts about this concept.

First of all, this is extremely generous on Qatar Airways’ part, and frankly I’m surprised this is being offered:

  • For all the wrong reasons, seafarers often aren’t thought about, so I don’t think this will get quite as much good publicity for the airline as if a lounge were offered for healthcare workers, etc. (though admittedly they’re largely not traveling)
  • Seafarers and offshore workers are largely traveling on charter flights without much control over their airline selection, so I’m not sure this will generate that much incremental business for Qatar Airways; that’s also why this seems like such a nice gesture

My other major thought is that there’s a bit of irony to this concept. Qatar Airways recently unbundled business class fares so that some people booking $5,000+ business class tickets no longer get lounge access. Meanwhile seafarers on charter flights in economy are getting lounge access.

I can obviously appreciate the difference between a commercial decision (poorly thought out as it may be) and a nice gesture, but there’s still a bit of irony to it.

Bottom line

Qatar Airways has opened the Mariner Lounge at Doha Hamad International Airport, which is exclusively for seafarers and offshore workers. This is a kind gesture on the carrier’s part, given just how many people have been “trapped” at sea due to border restrictions. It’s also a cool way to repurpose a lounge that’s otherwise closed.

What do you make of Qatar Airways’ Mariner Lounge concept?

  1. I guess ultimately Qatar wants to convince the public to book with them because mariners usually live in tight quarters hence higher possibility of catching the virus. Setting up such a lounge can be good marketing for those who worry about getting infected during the transit in Doha.

  2. “The airline has closed its lounges for oneworld Emerald and oneworld Sapphire members, so the new Mariner Lounge is simply one of the lounges being repurposed.”

    No. From the photos the Mariner lounge is the old Priority Pass lounge, which moved to take up the space occupied by the (never opened) Emirates lounge above gate A1 about 18 months ago.

  3. Having visited this lounge a few times in the past under its Al Maha branding, I’m not entirely sure this is a positive in any way! 🙂

    On a more serious note, Qatar and Emirates both have contracts with the major agencies who manage seamen transfers and are quite aggressive for the business (for example, under my former airline’s SPA with QR – probably around 25-30% of bookings were seaman IT fares). They have been offering all sorts of incentives to get this business in the pandemic era such as discounted/complimentary COVID tests, etc.. so this seems to match that strategy. I could definitely see one of the agencies moving business to QR from a competitor based on this kind of incentive.

  4. You’d be surprised how many health care workers are traveling. With staffing challenges all over the world the demand for traveler nurses/doctors has shot up through the roof. I transited through Doha last week and saw multiple people in scrubs in the terminal heading to their connecting flights.

    The ICU that my wife works in Hopkins has around 20 traveler nurses and it’s just one of the five ICUs at the main hospital. Travelers are generally limited to three months with one three month extension then they have to move to a different assignment and this often stipulates they have to do their next assignment in a different state.

  5. This segment of business travel has not been as affected by COVID as the majority of business travel. Marine and of shore business is highly looked after by many airlines now, given the willingness and need to travel. Airlines which have a polished marine fare offer now realize the margins they can make. TMC’s alike target marine customers as well. It’s nice to see that this often overlooked niche gets much needed attention. I still remember the days when airlines had seafarer rules in their tickets which often stated: intoxicated marine personal will not be transported and any unruly behavior will be punished…

  6. Seafarers never use charter flights! Seafarers are traveling by regular flight schedule, economy class, cheapest seats (mostly around toilets), sometimes their layover is 6 hours up to 20 hours. Most of them are not allowed to leave airport area die to visa regulations. There are thousands of seafarers every day traveling around the world to get to the ship, or either returning home. There are a hundreds of thousands dollars spent on their flight tickets and no one never did this for any of us. Thank you Qatar Airwaves for doing this for all of us who are sometimes way too tired after 9 months working on ships every day 12-16 hours with no weekends and holidays. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you being so kind to know what is really necessary to us. Thank you !

  7. A good gesture on Qatar’s part. I’m sure even if it’s only for the duration of this pandemic it is appreciated by the many 1000s of seafarers who are still travelling, myself included

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