Reviews

Review: Qatar Airways 'Business Class' (Oneworld Sapphire) Lounge, Doha Hamad Airport

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, November 16 2016
Qatar Airways 'Business Class' (Oneworld Sapphire) Lounge, Doha Hamad Airport
Country

Qatar

City

Doha

Airport

Doha - Hamad International Airport

Alliance

oneworld

Airline

Qatar Airways

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • No boarding calls for peace and quiet
  • Bartender service
The Bad
  • No Oneworld Sapphire access to the 'real' business class lounge
  • No hot food at the buffet
The Unexpected
  • Private meeting rooms for serious work
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Qatar Airways operates two business class lounges in its home hub of Doha, Qatar: the first being the Al Mourjan Business Lounge exclusively for business class passengers, and the second being this separate 'Business Class Lounge' for Gold-grade frequent flyers booked in economy, who can't access Al Mourjan.

There's a vast difference between the two lounges – whether you look at the overall footprint, the designs themselves or the food and beverage offering, the Al Mourjan Lounge is superior in almost every way and is clearly the lounge you should use when travelling in business class.

But if you are stuck in economy, here's what awaits in the other 'Business Class Lounge' before your Qatar Airways flight at Doha's Hamad International Airport.

Location & Impressions

If you can find the giant teddy bear sculpture, you'll easily find this lounge – the escalators are nearby and after a quick check of your boarding pass at the bottom and again at the reception desk upstairs, you're free to turn left and enter.

What awaits inside is a modern and simple space lined with greenery along the terminal-facing walls...

... although the lounge itself is quite small, so often feels very 'busy' in the main seating areas, even during the quieter times.

Access

  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club Gold and Platinum members flying onwards with any Oneworld airline
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club Silver cardholders prior to Qatar Airways flights only
  • Other Oneworld Sapphire and Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers such as Qantas Gold and above prior to Oneworld flights
  • Business class and first class passengers of any Oneworld airline

Privilege Club Platinum members and other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers can also visit the adjacent 'First Class' frequent flyer lounge, with business class passengers enjoying access to the Al Mourjan Lounge and first class flyers to the Al Safwa Lounge.

Dining

Much as in the nearby 'First Class Lounge' for Platinum frequent flyers also stuck in economy, visitors here can help themselves to a selection of sandwiches, salads and sweets...

... teas, machine-made espresso coffee...

... fresh fruit, soft drinks, juices and water including San Pellegrino sparkling...

... while wine and spirits are served by staff from behind the bar counter:

We didn't indulge during this visit but observed that travellers who did queue for beverages were assisted within moments.

As far as business class lounges go, that's somewhat on-par when compared to some domestic-grade lounges across the globe, particularly within Europe and North America.

Yet for international travellers making the long journey home from Doha to Australia, or indeed travelling onwards to Europe or elsewhere, we'd expect much more from a lounge in an airline's home hub – beginning with some hot food options.

Work

What this lounge lacks in the food department is very much offset by the facilities for working business travellers, with groups of desks both with and without computers for getting work done...

... private meeting rooms with closing doors offered on a first-come, first-served basis without charge...

... and the prevalence of both AC and USB power outlets throughout the lounge, with the former a multi-country design that accepts Australian plugs without needing an adaptor:

That's much appreciated by travellers in transit, particularly those flying between Australia and European countries like France or Italy who might only pack a European plug and not think to bring a UK- or Indian-style adaptor as you'd usually need in Qatar.

You'll find these outlets on the cocktail tables below the lamps, also nearby thoughtful garment hooks for keeping your suit jacket crisp:

Missing, however, is a dedicated wireless Internet network for the lounge – travellers instead need to use the airport's own free WiFi, from which we struggled to pull download and upload speeds of more than 1Mbps.

Relax

With Doha serving as a growing aviation hub, we like that boarding calls aren't made here – otherwise, that's all you'd hear.

Flight departure information can instead be found on a number of screens, alternating between Arabic and English...

... with showers and also English-language newspapers close by too:

Down the end of the lounge you'll find a TV viewing area – on our visit, playing A Few Good Men with English-language audio and Arabic subtitles to cater for both audiences...

... although the screen itself feels quite small for the space and would make it hard to read those same subtitles from the second row backwards.

Overall, we'd expect much more from an international lounge branded as 'business class' – especially in an airline's hub – although some improvements to the food and beverage offering and a few extra seats would go far to improving this lounge.

Also reviewed: Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Doha

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Doha as a guest of Qatar Airways.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

pwl

pwl

11 Jun 2013

Total posts 12

I just completed a return trip to the US via Doha & have to say I was very disappointed with the lounge offerings, even though I was able to enjoy the "first class" emerald OneWorld lounge (which wasn't much better).  

Given that Cathay and QANTAS provide top access to their partners' loyal & valued customers it's disappointing that there doesn't seem to be a fair exchange.  

I travel to Europe & India a few times each year, so this has actually impacted my choice of airline (back to Cathay Pacific) for those trips. Oh well.

bsb

bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 70

It's not fair and BA does the same at LHR with Concorde room. I have benefited myself by using CX lounges in HKG inc arrivals so I can't really complain. 

The real QR Al Safwa Flounge is about the best in the world I think. 

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

LHR Concorde room is quite different.

The BA LHR T5 and T3 First lounges are actually decent and comparable to other oneworld First class lounges.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Rule of thumb: Only fly QR in Business or First if you have to transit via DOH. If you have to fly Economy and flights go via DOH, there are plenty of other OW options out there that respect the spirit of the oneworld alliance.

Looking

Looking

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

 I think this is fair. Whilst I understand most Australians who are OW Sapphire would generally understand and respect the lounge environment, I have had too many instances of being in lounges just before flight were departing to the United States. The ease at which US airlines allow for premium status that bring the lounge environment down.

wanderer_au

wanderer_au

10 Feb 2016

Total posts 10

The "hooks" you speak of are also known as men's clothing valets.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 149

I kind of get why Qatar has this lounge policy in place in DOH.  

And anyone that's been in the Al Mourjan lounge during the peak times would probably agree.  The place is HEAVING.  It's a great lounge but often long waits for showers, tables not easy to find in the dining areas.  Add into that a few more hundred/thousand bums on seats from Sapphires/Emeralds in Economy and the place would be unpleasant.

Saying that, it's a pity Qatar isn't a little more flexible with the admittance policy.  Much of the day the Al Mourjan lounge is relatively quiet and could accommodate many more people.  It's a shame they don't use the 'First' and 'Business' class lounges as overflow lounges when Al Mourjan is reaching it's capacityor the known morning and night time transit peaks are approaching.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 149

The irony with the 'real' Al Safwa First Class lounge in DOH is that if you are a OW Emerald on an expensive full fare business class ticket from say DOH to SYD you have no access.

But...if you are on a 40 minute flight on an A320 from DOH-DXB/AUH etc etc in Business you are granted entry as the intra-gulf two class flights are marketed as First and Economy (like domestic two class flights in the US).

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 347

I have just been through this experience. I flew MIA to JFK picked up Qatar to DOH and connected to HKG on QR. The 1st class lounge access denial was infuriating. I was in Business (no First Class on those sectors) and emerald OW (Chairmans Lounge). Qatar was awful on the ground. I was directed to FF 1st Lounge which smelt like a chimney and had one shower only operating, then sent to FF Business Lounge where the showers were dreadful, a cubicle - no toilet, no sink to be able to shave or clean teeth, no hooks to hang clothes. Pathetic. I'd like to see the reaction of a QR passenger f they were turned away from the QF 1st lounge. These ME airlines have no substance. They may have flashy looking airports and new planes with all the bells and whistles but they have no PR expertise.

Waynemckewen

Waynemckewen

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jul 2016

Total posts 11

I recently flew on Qatar to Europe in economy and got NO Status Credits or miles for the trip, I'm a Qantas Platinum member...why are they even part of the Oneworld group when you don't get anything in return.

khalikov

khalikov

05 Sep 2019

Total posts 1

I think its also important to note that Qatar tries their best not to give Emerald/Sapphire members the priority boarding by assigning them to lower 'zones' with Economy passengers.


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