Qatar Airways Raises First Class Lounge Access Cost

Filed Under: Qatar

Since the beginning of this year, Qatar Airways has been selling business class passengers access to their first class lounge in Doha. Specifically, I’m talking about the Al Safwa First Class Lounge, which is spectacular, and which I rank as one of the top 10 first class lounges in the world.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge

You’ve been able to pay 250QAR (~67USD) to buy access, which is a spectacular deal. Purchased access was good for a period of up to six hours, and included a la carte dining, incredible alcohol, and even bedrooms you can sleep in during a long layover.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge

Many thought that the pricing was almost too good to be true, and that may in fact have been the case. A couple of readers have now emailed to let me know that Qatar Airways has increased the cost of Al Safwa First Class Lounge Access to 600QAR (~165USD) per person. The limit is still six hours, this is still only open to Qatar Airways business class passengers, and you can still buy access at the entrance.

Let me note that while I’ve received two reports of this in the past couple of days, I can’t guarantee the new pricing will be consistently enforced immediately. Qatar Airways is known for sometimes being inconsistent with rules, so it might be that some people are still only charged 250QAR, depending on who is working.

At 250QAR I’d say buying access to the Al Safwa Lounge was a no brainer, at least with a long layover. However, dropping 600QAR per person will definitely make you think twice, especially if you’re traveling with a spouse or family, where the cost really adds up.

To be honest I’m not surprised to see this change, and I also can’t blame Qatar Airways. This option has been popular with passengers, and the lounge offers some great food & drinks, and even bedrooms. The pricing of 250QAR seemed to me to be on the low side.


Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge

However, I think now they’re going to the other end of the spectrum in terms of pricing. Unless you have an overnight layover where you can take advantage of the bedrooms while also having a meal with drinks, you’re otherwise probably better off just getting a room at The Airport Hotel.

Personally it seems to me like they should have increased the price to somewhere in the 400-500QAR range, where it would still have wide appeal while maintaining exclusivity.

I’m actually in this exact situation. My dad, Ford, and I, are flying from Cape Town to Doha to Dallas, and have an eight hour layover overnight. My plan was to buy us all Al Safwa Lounge access so we could sleep.

At this point that would cost me $500, and I feel like I’d be better off just booking two hotel rooms so we can all get some proper (guaranteed) sleep.

Are you surprised to see an increase in Al Safwa Lounge access cost? Would this impact whether or not you’d buy access?

Comments
  1. Still seems cheap.I would access the FCL in Frankfurt or Zurich every time I was travellingin business for 165 USD…

  2. Spot on with multiple people flying. The cost adds up quickly. If its a solo or couples trip, maybe you can cost justify it, especially if you’ve never been. Otherwise the hotel room is going to be a better option.

  3. @Cedric but FCT and this are two very different lounges (I think the name of the former says it all).

    On a side note, I assume complimentary access is only given to those departing in F and not arriving in F and connecting to J? Flying MCT-DOH(F)-FRA(J) next week and was really hoping to check the lounge out, without paying north of 150$

  4. Time for more trips around few Middle East countries that Qatar still fly so you can enter F lounge …

    Good thing I booked award J ticket with 3 hour layover in Doha instead of 8ish hours. Ain’t paying that much for F lounge.

  5. I have a 16 hour layover in Doha coming up in 3 days part of which is overnight and I was planning on seeing the city and buying access to the lounge for a little sleep. I’m traveling with 3 other people though so this isn’t really worth it anymore with this new pricing. I’ll still check there though incase they don’t enforce it.

  6. I almost bought access on a layover last month while flying IAH-DOH-CMB, but ended up using a Bonvoy Cat-5 certificate at the St. Regis Doha. Paid off, since we got upgraded to the larger of the two presidential suites, though you can only do so much with ~7,000 sq ft on 9 hour layover….

  7. I find it hard to believe it was ever 67USD. I paid for my friend to have access to Al Mourjan lounge in Doha last month and it was 127USD. I was on a business class ticket and didn’t want to leave her in the airport alone.

  8. This lounge is a beautiful space, but I don’t know if it is really worth $165 USD per person. The overnight rooms are very nice, but you are not guaranteed to get one. The food is bit of a disappointment in terms of quality and menu. The spa, while empty, is at an additional (high) cost. So, if you have never been, I might consider paying just once to see the space – which looks more like a museum than a lounge. Given that QR has invested so much in their business class, their first class offerings, though nice, seem like a bit of an afterthought.

  9. DOH to CPT path goes right by the point where the US drone was shot dawn by Iran. I am sure they are not interested in QR civilian airplane but mistakes are more likely at places where they shoot rockets at planes. MH17 comes to mind. QR has no place to go as this is the only way.

  10. @Ben Holz

    Arriving F connecting J do get complimentary access IF flight time in F is >4 hours (or >6 hours, can’t remember), so MCT-DOH and all other ME F flights don’t – I’d better say didn’t – qualify.

  11. @KevinS

    You do get access, but not for free. DOH-BEY is <4 hours.
    You'll have to pay whatever they are charging at the door.

  12. Lucky $500 for 8 hours is worth it. It’s amazing and it’s cheaper than purchasing a first class Sector for that trip.

  13. A picture speaks a thousand words! Just take a look at the photos and see how many are using them! There are many other airlines to choose from!

  14. Quick question from a student: several commenters often mention happily forking $200 bucks for 8-9 hours stay in a hotel or flying biz class for $2000 and calling it a spectacular price/deal.
    May I know what kind of job/business allow you to afford this kind lifestyle? Thanks for your replies

  15. I have flown through Doha on Qatar business class and have found the Business Class lounge among the very best… The food, drinks and service are excellent.. It is a beautiful sprawling facility with very comfortable small sleeping facilities with individual flat screen tv’s…. There are menu, buffet and made to order sandwich locations

  16. @lucky the business class lounge does also have a decent quiet rest area near the shower entrance. Not a room like the first class but doable. I’ve been to both and had 6 hour lay overs and managed to catch a couple of hours of Zzzz in the biz rest area. Check it out first before u head to the hotel

  17. It’s overrated: other than for the longest of long transit stops, it makes little sense to pay $165, maybe except for gluttonous boozers. The atmosphere is sterile, the food nothing remarkable. Most transit passengers will be coming off a flight with good F&B, and onto another with the same.
    To pay extra when Al Mourjan is included in the ticket would be silly. Yes, some merit for 6 hour plus transit time, anything less..no.

  18. Traveling single would definitely do it. Trust get better drinks, food than business on board.

  19. I can confirm it is 600 QAR, I was in Al Mourjan last night and I asked. Was planning to go with my wife next week as I have 8 hours connection but I probably will not

  20. @Mills – there are multiple reports spanning months on a FT thread dedicated to the topic of buying up to the F lounge with a J ticket confirming the US$67 pricing.

  21. @ Lucky:

    Al Safwa is beautiful but the food and the table service are as bad as in Al Mourjan. For me, the main advantage is immediate access to the showers vs frequent lines in Al Mourjan. Worth $ 67 without a doubt, probably not `140+.

    If you have a 8hr+ connection and a ticket in Business (D class for sure, I or R I am not certain, to be checked), you get a free hotel. I have a 15 hr layover next month, going to town is a no brainer as the Oryx hotel is only so-so (many rooms no windows at all). For 8 hours, the trouble of leaving the airport and back 2 hours before T.O time is not ideal. I had a 8.15 hr connection earlier this month and pleaded for Oryx in-terminal hotel instead of leaving the airport. It was granted. Luck or systematic, no idea. Had it been denied, I would have taken the $ 67 Al Safwa solution. At 140…. I’ll cross that bridge if and when.

    One thing I noticed 2 weeks ago is that there are several restaurants in the terminal which look appealing enough. I personally do not like Al Mourjan (I do miss the old Premium Terminal…) and shall try them during not too long future connections. And if the meal costs me $ 50, so be it

  22. @ Julia….forking over $2400 for a business class ticket ORD-DOH-BKK when the economy ticket is $1800 is a great deal whatever your line of work is.

  23. I just spent 600QAR at the lounge as I had a 9 hr layover. It is still limited to 6 hours but no one informed me when the time was almost up so I stayed in for a few more mins.
    The sleeping room and the champagne was still excellent but I don’t think I will pay 600 QAR again. 400 QAR would be more justified

  24. The bedrooms aren’t very impressive. You get a dorm style twin bed and the lights stay on all night (there is no way to turn them off). The computers in the business center are old and run Windows 8. Service was really attentive in a “you don’t look like you belong here” way, but not in a “we’re going to get your breakfast quickly” way.

    Overall, it was (barely) worth $67 on my overnight layover from the Seychelles, which is why I upgraded from the business lounge (I didn’t care about fancy champagne and had very little to eat). There’s no way I’d pay over $100. For that price, I’d find a couch to crash on.

  25. @ Raman Kolluri

    You do know Lucky’s policy is to try to take photos with no-one in them? Or do you think nearly every flight he takes has absolutely no passengers or crew…?

    For flights from London to Asia, QR is my go-to airline. Qsuites offer a better J flying experience than anything else. Whereas normally I value direct flights over connections involving better airlines, QR tips the scales the other way – helped by the fact they have so many daily flights to London. If I miss one connection there’ll be another shortly after.

    I’ve found the business class lounge has met all my needs (very well, compared to most lounges), so I wouldn’t splurge money on an “upgrade”. YMMV.

  26. It’s an impressive lounge for sure, but also impressive empty and boring. Been there a few times before they start selling access and believe that the business lounge seems much more alive. Krug is nice but food isn’t that tasty so I would save the money for a nice restaurant.

  27. Keep in mind there is no guarantee you will be given access to one of the bedrooms. You can, however, have the staff check if there is one available before you hand over your money.

    For a six-hour access, It’s not worth the extra money except to try it once just to see. It is a beautiful lounge. I did not experience the ‘incredible alcohols’ you mentioned. (I am not a fan of bubbly wine). The à-la-carte dining was nice, but not spectacular. You are ‘at the mercy’ of the chef and it varies… At 22h00, you will get a cook, not a chef.

    That said, I miss it. Back when Qatar and KSA were friends, the DOH – RUH sector was always ‘F’ even with a business class ticket.

  28. I found the Al Safwa lounge to be a bit disappointing. It’s on such a huge scale that it feels lifeless. We were hugely outnumbered by staff which meant a nice relaxing meal instead felt hurried, not a moment between courses before they whipped our plates away – sometimes from one of us while the other was still eating. The food itself was a bit of a let down too, it seems to be reheated on demand.

    On my last trip (in business not 1st) through DOH with a 5hr layover, I instead paid 240QR for a 30 minute massage and access to the spa facilities in the Vitality Centre, which included use of the pool and excellent shower facilities.

    Going forward, who we’ll be using the Al Safwa lounge as the A380s get phased out?

  29. Lots of people were using it at 250 but, in my experience, it didn’t remotely have an impact on the lounge’s capacity. It remained a ghost town, almost all of the time. I imagine that at 600, the take-up will be much smaller. If the low upgrade charge was leading to over-crowding, I could understand it but, as it didn’t seem to be doing so, I think this will just lead to QR losing out on revenue without any upside .

  30. I was at Al Safwa on the June 16th and the paid the 250QAR fee which I found reasonable. The lounge was practically empty, so I had great 3,5 hours wait while having lunch and drinking champagne. However, the a la carte food was not that special, maybe on par with CX F-lounge but not better. With this new 600QAR entry fee I would probably pass it and just go to Al Mourjan.

  31. Luckily my layover (JFK-DOH-MLE) is only 2 hours, and biz lounge will be just fine. Wouldn’t pay over $100 USD pp to use this lounge based on comments.

  32. Al Safwa is beautiful, but I wasn’t impressed with the food, it was fine but the food at the FCT and Qantas lounge are better. The Al Safwa menu was fancy but then you ask for a particular wine and they don’t have it…fix the damn menu, update it. The new increased fee doesn’t seem worth it to me.

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