Visitor beware, there isn’t much luxury to be found at the Qatar Airways First Class Lounge. Despite its enticing name, the club is actually home to oneworld Emerald status guests traveling from Doha in Economy. Non-status passengers can also buy their way in at the door. The true First Class Lounge, dubbed Al Safwa First Lounge, is exclusively reserved for customers ticketed in First Class, and is off-limits to oneworld elites in Economy or Business Class.
To reach the First Class Lounge, take the escalator up to the mezzanine level to the left of the Teddy Bear. The club shares a lobby with the adjacent Business Class Lounge for Sapphire guests.
Physically, the First Class lounge at Doha’s Hamad airport is elegant and serene. Located on a mezzanine overlooking the Teddy Bear, the L-shaped club incorporates design features such as a living wall, dim lighting, and cathedral ceilings. The décor is both elegant and functional, with a variety of seating options including a dining area and TV zone, numerous power points, and a fair amount of privacy.
Unfortunately, while the open mezzanine concept brings a breezy atmosphere, it also means that the lounge is painfully noisy. The bright LED screens in the concourse atrium are also a disturbance. The constant crowding is the nail in the coffin: the club is inadequate for a global hub of the scale of Doha airport. Seats are scarce at peak times, and power outlets are in high demand.
It’s not like Qatar’s flagship airport lacks real estate—the Al Mourjan and Al Safwa lounges for Qatar Airways‘ premium customers are some of the largest airline clubs in the world. Simply, oneworld partner airlines are second-class citizens at an airport that is dominated and run by the home carrier Qatar Airways.
The First Class Lounge at Doha’s Hamad airport, operated by Qatar Airways on behalf of oneworld carriers, features a set of essential amenities.
The food spread, replenished 24 hours a day, consists of mini-sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries, a few hot entrees, and sweets. The food is adequate but unremarkable, and certainly not in line with the First Class moniker.
The drink selection includes Evian bottled water, soda, and espresso, as well as a few white and red wines, and Champagne. There is no bar service, nor does the lounge offer liquor, spirits, or cocktails of any kind.
The First Class Lounge includes a more secluded nap area with cube chairs and recliners. The space provides just enough privacy for weary travelers, but the lack of proper flat sleeping surfaces is an impediment to restful sleep.
Families benefit from the best accommodations with two separate rooms with couches, a TV, and space for children to stretch out. Should they happen to be available, the family rooms are ultimately the best places for a nap.
The well-appointed bathrooms are constantly staffed and refreshed, and come with several changing rooms and shower rooms.
The lounge does not provide a dedicated Wi-Fi access point, but guests can use the airport’s public network. However, the connection process is a bit cumbersome and requires positive authentication through an SMS message or a Qatar Airways flight confirmation number. Overall, the lounge provides little space to work comfortably, and there are no business facilities such as computers or printers.
Other amenities include a smoking room, a prayer room, and a selection of newspapers and magazines.
The First Class Lounge at Doha airport for oneworld carriers was designed to honor the spirit of the oneworld rules, which, on paper, grant Emerald status passengers access to First Class lounges. In practice, the First Class Lounge is effectively a contract lounge for oneworld elites that masquerades as a premium facility.
hysically, the space has many intrinsic qualities, and the club would be rather pleasant were it less crowded and quieter. Unfortunately, it routinely operates at capacity, even at odd hours.
Amenities include a modest hot food selection, showers, and a sleeping room. The essentials are covered, though the experience pales in comparison with a true First Class lounge.
Passengers traveling in Business Class should visit the far superior Al Mourjan Business Lounge instead, while First Class customers can revel in the delights of the Al Safwa First Lounge. For everybody else, it’s best to arrive at the airport as late as possible, as the First Class lounge is nothing to look forward to.
Note that passengers bound for the US should leave the club early in order to go through additional security screening at their gate.
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