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The Al Safwa First Class lounge is one of the few oneworld First Class lounges where a top-tier Emerald status card won’t get you in. Up until now travelers wanting to access the exclusive First Class facility have had to present a boarding pass for a First Class Qatar Airways flight at the reception desk or settle for the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge….but apparently not any more.
A Flyertalk member (Chgodrew) has reported that the staff at the reception desk at the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge (which is a pretty good lounge by the way) told him that he could pay to access the Al Safwa First Class lounge.
I asked when I got to Al Mourjan in DOH if I was able to purchase access to Al Sawfa and they said yes for AED 350.00 (USD 95.00). I immediately left for the Al Sawfa lounge and the host at the escalator asked for boarding pass and I said I would like to pay, she let me up. When I got to desk they asked for ticket and then said it would be AED 250.00 (even better).
Chgodrew says that he was on a paid Business Class fare (i.e not on an award ticket) and has confirmed that it was a discounted fares on offer from Scandinavia (like the ones available right now).
I have to admit that I didn’t see this coming and I have mixed feelings about this news.
On the positive side of things a few more guest in the lounge may be nice.
The Al Safwa First Class lounge can feel very soulless thanks to its size (it’s huge) and thanks to the fact that there are often more staff on duty than there are guests (I only saw 2 – 3 other guests when I last visited and I was there for over 6 hours).
On the negative side of things the entry fee seems cheap and that may have an effect on what the lounge offers.
$95 to access a lounge where the champagnes and wines on offer can cost well over $200/bottle and where you can reserve a bedroom free of charge seems like a bargain if you have a particularly long layover (I’d certainly pay it if I had a 5+ hour layover) and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll now see some cutbacks.
Will Qatar Airways keep supplying the lounge with fantastic wines and champagnes if guests are entering for $95, drinking as much as they like and staying for hours on end? Doubtful.
How hard will it be to reserve a bedroom (complete with en suite bathroom) now that you don’t actually need a First Class ticket to get into the lounge?
Anyone who has a layover of over 4 hours can request one of these rooms so, although they’re time-limited (I think they ask you to leave after 4 or 5 hours), I can imagine quite a few flyers thinking that $95 is a good deal for a few hours sleep in your own room….and who can blame them?
On the one hand I’m please to see that it’s possible to buy your way in to the Al Safwa First Class lounge because it’s definitely something I can see myself using when I have a long layover but, on the other hand, I’m concerned that the lounge offering will deteriorate and be a lot less special on those rare occasions when I transit Doha with a First Class boarding pass in my hand.
What do you guys think?
[HT: View From The Wing]