Qatar Airways Cuts Lounge Access For Select Upgraded Passengers

Filed Under: Qatar

While this policy won’t impact most of us, I think it’s worth writing about since it’s an unusual policy change for an airline to make.

Qatar Airways has some great lounges. For example, I love their Al Safwa First Class Lounge and Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha. However, the airline is also stingy when it comes to lounge access. Oneworld Emerald members don’t get access to the Al Safwa Lounge, and oneworld Sapphire members don’t get access to the Al Mourjan Lounge, as is the norm per oneworld policy. Instead they have inferior lounges that elite members get access to.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Doha

Typically airlines grant you lounge access when you redeem miles to upgrade. Actually, off the top of my head I can’t think of any longhaul airlines that don’t. At least that has been the case up until now, as Qatar Airways has made an update to their lounge access policy.

As of November 6, 2017, Qatar Airways is no longer granting lounge access to passengers who upgrade using miles on the day of departure. So if you’re an elite member and use Qmiles to upgrade on the day of departure, you’ll only get lounge access based on your status (if applicable), and not based on your higher class of service.

Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge Doha

Passengers who upgrade in advance will continue to receive lounge access. The important distinction is that upgrades in advance are capacity controlled, while at the airport upgrades are processed on a space available basis (meaning you can upgrade as long as there’s a seat available), which is why a lot of Privileges Club members aren’t upgrading in advance.

FlyerTalk member jbflyboy84 shares the following regarding the policy change:

According to the update received from Qatar Airways Privilege Club department, effective from the 06th of November, customers who purchase an upgrade upon departure (UoD) with Qmiles/Qcredits will be entitled to the baggage allowance and lounge access based on the actual ticketed cabin, and not the upgraded cabin.

However, frequent flyer members (i.e. platinum, gold, silver members) will continue to get their respective tier benefit when they purchase an UoD using Qmiles/Qcredits.

Rather hilariously, FlyerTalk member JC880 emailed Qatar Airways Privileges Club to inquire about whether this applied to upgrades in advance, and received the following response:

However, as per new enhancement, if you avail upgrade on departure option by redeeming Qmiles/Qcredits, you may access the lounge as per your original class of booking but you are entitle to access lounge as per your privilege club tier and eligibility.

That’s right, cutting lounge access for passengers on the day of departure is an enhancement.

Earlier this year Qatar Airways began selling access to their Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge — economy passengers can purchase access for 450QAR (~120USD). That’s not exactly a bargain…

  1. “[…] why a lot of Privileges Club members aren’t upgrading in advance.”

    According to QR’s terms & conditions for upgrades at the departure airport or when transfering in Doha upgrades are permitted only on one sector from point of departure. As most passengers are transfering in Doha and more QCredits or QMiles are required for subsequent upgrades of two or more sectors compared to upgrading the whole trip in advance, that strategy is quite unattractive anyway.

    So far, all of my advance upgrade requests cleared, but when I tired to upgrade just one sector at the transfer desk in Doha (using QCredits), I was told that the upgrade may only clear 60 minutes before departure (when check in closes and boarding begins), as they were still trying to sell cash upgrades. In the meantime, lounge access was based on ticketed cabin and status.

    Therefore, I consider these changes as minor.

  2. I cannot state how much I hope other airlines don’t go down this path. Literally 100% of my business class flights have been through upgrades. Worrying times for poor little me!

  3. I was in Al Mourjan with OW Sapphire only (flying Qatar in Y) a couple of years ago. Maybe this has recently changed.

  4. For all the hype about Qatar, this is just another example why I think it is not anything special – bad food (choice) in air, pedestrian (cheap) wines in air, and now the “enhanced” lounge access.

    Purchased a lounge pass last year and they stuck us in the cheap lounge which was overcrowded and disgusting. Did enjoy their true Al Mourjan Business lounge on another flight and it was ok (appreciated the semi-private lounges though!).

    Hard product was almost good enough to sort of make up for the rest.

  5. Whilst I’ve never paid for a business class flight on QA, I often redeen miles of use miles to upgrade. So far I have only ever done this in advance so unless I am mistaken, by doing it this way, I still have lounge access?
    I do wonder if they will soon make any changes for those who upgrade in advance as well?

  6. This is not not completely unusual. Ten years ago, Thai Airways already had that in place. I upgraded to business class, but I was not allowed to use the lounge. All I got was the higher baggage amount. I do not even recall receiving the bonus miles, because it was a paid upgrade at the airport. Not sure exactly if this is true, but maybe it was that because it was regional. Not sure would the same have applied if it were long haul. I also redeemed miles in advance on Delta for regional business class, but I was not given lounge access as well. Oh well.

  7. @Sergio T – they always have for me, even as recently as six weeks ago, I upgraded online with both cash and miles, and got lounge access.

    And businesses always call cost cutting measures that negatively affect quality of service as enhancements lol. They learn from politicians.

  8. “Qatar Airways Cuts Lounge Access For Select Upgraded Passengers”

    Well, good. Lounges are often over-crowded, full of people who have been busy gaming the system in order to get something for nothing (or as close to that as they can manage). Those of us who have paid full whack in cash then get squeezed out.

    I’m with Qatar on this. If only more airlines would focus on encouraging loyalty among those of its passengers who generate the most profit for them. (Yes, yes, I know this is a points site. I’m here for the reviews…)

  9. I think @schar said it best “Why? Their lounges are massive and seldom crowded. This is beyond stupid.”

    Qatar wants to keep less crowded lounges where people have room to relax. Isn’t that what a lounge should be? Unfortunately airlines have caught on to the cracks in their mileage/points program and more and more limits are going to placed in the next decade until the points game is killed. It blows, I know, but its slowly being done, company by company.

  10. They have a handful of F seats on their few A380s, and with the current neigbour embargo, not a lot of regional First. Gonna be mighty empty in that vast Al Safwa lounge where the staff always outnumbered the guests.

  11. Hi Lucky,

    RE “oneworld Sapphire members don’t get access to the Al Mourjan Lounge, as is the norm per oneworld policy ” :

    One possible correction (or irregularity) here. I flew UL in paid J last week, DOH-CMB, and was welcomed into the Al Mourjan Lounge upon showing my AA Platinum (OW Emerald) card to the agent downstairs at the bottom of the escalator that leads to the lounge. In fact, the UL J check-in agent at DOH had already advised me that as AA Plat I could use the QR biz class lounge and didn’t have to go to the Oryx lounge. This was paid J, not an upgrade. The Al Mourjan lounge is amazing indeed – I enjoyed it very much.

    As always, many and more thanks to you for running this superlative website, for all your efforts and hard work that have been invaluable to me (and to numerous others) in planning long-haul premium-cabin trips. Absolutely awesome work on your part. Please keep it up.

  12. (p.s.) correction to the above: I meant to state ” as an AA Platinum (OW Sapphire). ” My apologies. Thanks.

  13. I just had this meaningless experience. Being on a connecting flight to Tokyo, I upgraded to business class using accumulated Qmiles and was not granted access to Al Mourjan business lounge. One of the reasons I upgraded was the possibility to use their dedicated lounge.
    It felt really terrible! I think they lost my loyalty to them. Next time I am really going to consider other airlines as well, a thing that I haven’t done for a few years now

  14. Little disappointed about Qatar Airways keeps cutting “goodies” away 🙁 Furthermore, trying to upgrade in advance seems always like a big hustle especially tying to upgrade 2 legs. For several days I tried to upgrade a V ticket from KUL-DOH-DOH-CPH. Was explained the redemption seat was limited so I had to try at the airport. Not only having to pay extra miles at the airport but also not being able to use the lounge seems not OK, especially when the flight from KUL-DOH was only half full (10 pax in business and 119 in economy)!! I seems like Qatar have got the popularity and now the don’t really care for their loyal customers!

  15. Not like this comment will get anything changed by big business, but I do need to express!!
    Yes I have upgraded a couple times when I travel and part of the perk is the service and the lounge access. I work hard for my money and when I took a trip to Bali on the return trip I decided to upgrade in Doha on a Qatar flight to NY and my layover was long so I decided to upgrade for the long flight and utilize the lounge, but I was told I could only upgrade until a couple hours before the flight which was to me ridiculous, but I guess they wanted to try and get full price. Ok so I waited and upgraded, but I did not use points I paid for the upgrade, an extra $900 (why not that’s what I work for and need to spoil myself) after the upgrade I come to find out because of the upgrade deal I don’t have access to the lounge?? (WHAT?) yes but if I want I could go buy access to the lounge I was told, but I just paid $900 dollars and no access, but I could pay for access?? I was told $900 dollars was for the service on the plane that’s it. Like I was going to go into the lounge and just eat and drink them out of business?? It was bad enough I had to wait to pay for the upgrade 2 hours before the flight, but was even worse that lounge access was not part of it because of the special deal I was getting. Wow Qatar is cheap and stingy and I now wonder is this the way of the airlines? I feel no matter what, if you pay for an upgrade you should still get the lounge. Why offer a separate payment lounge access? I think the $900 upgrade should cover that especially I paid for it not using points!!!!! What is this world coming too?? airlines should not be this cheap because I’ll think twice now in spending the money on their airline next time…, HEAR OUR VOICE!!!

  16. As per 06 feb. 2018 their policy is, that buyed and upgradet to first class before oct. 2017, have access to al-safwra lounge.personell statement from the lounge suprvisor.
    i’m in now with an upgradet j ticket.

  17. Just like CPH-Dude above tells:

    IT IS INSANE how difficult it is to book back-to-back upgrades on Qatar these days…which translates into RIP-OFF: If you look at the cost of e.g. BA or Iberia or Finnair e.g. Copenhagen – Kuala Lumpur, and then compare the upgrade cost to Qatar….damn!

    Due to Qatar’s crazy sector-by-sector upgrades, you suddenly end up paying as much for Copenhagen to Doha, as you would Helsinki to Cape Town (full distance). (Example only).

    It has become almost impossible to book the back-to-back upgrades, and Qatar is facing legal action I think, it is a total rip-off that customers’ miles and credits are being down-graded by this crazy sector policy for upgrades; after-all…in the example above…Mr X is not flying Copenhagen-Doha….NO HE IS FLYING Copenhagen-CapeTown, and that is the upgrade he wants!!!

    Qatar is too smart here, they destroy the balance of miles/points. Too smart.

  18. I must admit i was extremley miffed when I paid in 4 days advance cash sale for an upgrade Doha to Denpasar price £460 and was denied lounge access. The deal is only cabin to cabin which leaves a little sour taste.

  19. Just upgraded in BKK with Q credits. Thought I’d give the lounge a shot as I am platinum with Qatar, no dice. Really pretty sad since I was able to use the Qantas FC lounge in LA while flying Cathay. I’m not really sure how Qatar gets away with this. BTW, the food at Qantas in LA beats the first class lounge in Doha hands down.

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