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Qatar Airways has announced that, with immediate effect, Platinum-tier Privilege Club members may access the Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha free of charge when traveling in Business Class.
Previously the only travelers granted fee-free access to the Al Safwa lounge were passengers traveling in a Qatar Airways First Class cabin (on cash fares or on award tickets) and Platinum-tier Privilege Club members were only granted fee-free access to the lounge applicable to their cabin of travel.
In a further boost to Qatar’s top-tier elites, Platinum members are now also being given two guest passes which they can use to guest two further Business Class travelers into the Al Safwa lounge free of charge.
Importantly, this new rule only applies to top-tier elites of the Qatar Airways Privilege Club and not to top-tier elites of other oneworld airlines (BA Gold, American Airways Executive Platinum etc…).
The Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha is probably one of the more well-discussed First Class lounges in the world and it divides opinion almost as often as its cavernous interior catches travelers off their guard when they first walk in.
It’s certainly an impressive looking facility, but I have long felt that its status as one of the more aspirational lounges is more based on the fact that, historically, it has been one of the harder lounge to access rather than because the lounge is a fantastic and beautiful space to spend some time.
I last visited the Al Safwa lounge back in November 2017 and while I loved the chance to have my own bedroom…
….and while some of the artwork on show was beautiful…
….I found the facility to be cavernous and a little soulless.
The lounge itself is enormous (the area it covers is impressive and the ceilings are incredibly high) and with the number of staff on duty often outnumbering passengers by at least 2:1 the facility can feel more like a very modern version of a large European cathedral after closing time rather than a nice place to relax, dine or catch up on some work.
At the beginning of this year Qatar Airways made a change that few people saw coming – it started to alow Business Class passengers (on cash fares) to pay for access to the Al Safwa lounge.
At first the entry cost was set at around $95 but that was soon increased to around $160 when it became clear that $95 was far too low an entry price for a lounge that offers complimentary wines and champagnes costing $150 – $250 per bottle.
There was a suspicion at the time that the blockade of Qatar by its neighboring countries was pushing the national airline into finding new ways to monetize its offerings but, even if that was the case then, the latest piece of news out of Qatar Airways certainly appears to have nothing to do with the blockade.
The fact that Privilege Club Platinum members can now access the Al Safwa First Class lounge free of charge (when traveling in Busines Class) is a very nice enhancement to the benefits that the staus offers and the fact that two guests can be brought in to the lounge free of charge (as long as they too are traveling in Business Class) makes this rule change even better.
Considering how comparatively cheap a lot of Qatar Airways Business Class fares can be if you’re traveling from Europe to Asia, I suspect this rule change may have a few European oneworld elites scrabbling to find the Privilege Club rules to see if it’s worth them crediting their future flights to the Privilege Club rather then their current oneworld loyalty program – that may be an interesting bit of research to do.