Regular travellers through Doha Hamad International doubtless hope that one day the Al Safwa lounge will open to top tier members of Oneworld (Emerald). The message from the Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker is that no one should hold their breath.
“It is not a first class lounge. It is a lounge that is exclusive to Qatar Airways.”
The situation for those travelling on Qatar Airways in business class, or those who are top tier Emerald in Oneworld, is that unless they are flying one segment in first class with Qatar Airways, either on a short-haul leg or a long-haul, then they will not be granted access to the Al Safwa lounge, and instead will be in the Al Mourjan Lounge.
The Al Mourjan, “first and business class” lounge
This decision has not been popular, not least since the Al Safwa lounge, which opened after the Al Mourjan lounge, has acquired a mystique among Emerald Oneworld members, who are used to gaining access to the lounges at other airports, but cannot do so here.
To see the forum thread on this, see below
Both lounges are very impressive, but the Al Safwa certainly has exclusivity on its side, never getting busy, and having huge spaces for both a waterfall / fountain feature, as well as an impressive display of both modern art (including a Keith Haring – above) and Islamic art from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. You can see a list of the artists on display here.
The lounge also also has two restaurants, a bar, and a spa, although this is for an additional charge.
Food selection at the Al Safwa lounge at Doha Hamad International
When asked at the trade fair ITB whether there were plans for the admission policy to change, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told me.
“We have a very high quality first and business class lounge which also Qatar Airways frequent flyers use and all the Oneworld [the Al Mourjan lounge]. If you go to that lounge you will see that it is better than any other lounge than any other in the IAG network apart from the Concorde Room in London Heathrow.”
Al Baker also said that Qatar Airways is developing further lounges for the airport, including both a new Al Safwa Lounge and a new Al Mourjan lounge, although it is possible they may have different names to avoid confusion.
The waterfall in the Al Safwa Lounge at Doha Hamad International airport