Reviews

Review: Qatar Airways 'First Class' (Oneworld Emerald) Lounge, Doha Hamad Airport

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, May 24 2016
Qatar Airways 'First Class' (Oneworld Emerald) Lounge, Doha Hamad Airport
Country

Qatar

City

Doha

Airport

Doha - Hamad International Airport

Alliance

oneworld

Airline

Qatar Airways

Cabin-class

First

Notes
The Good
  • Family area that doubles as a private room
The Bad
  • No Oneworld Emerald access to the 'real' Al Safwa first class lounge
  • Minimal dining options
  • No separate wireless Internet network
The Unexpected
  • Jacquart Champagne
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

You'd expect that a first class lounge on an airline's home turf would exude luxury and prestige befitting its 'flagship' status, but Qatar Airways' 'First Class Lounge' in Doha is an exception to that rule.

That's because this isn't a true 'first class' lounge, as such: the confusingly-named space caters to Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers (including Qantas and Qatar Platinum-grade members) travelling in economy – not to actual first class flyers who are whisked to the separate and far superior Al Safwa Lounge.

Location & Impressions

To get to the lounge, find the airport's central and iconic teddy bear sculpture and veer left to find escalators leading up to the First Class Lounge.

It's certainly a pleasant space with greenery adding colour to otherwise dark and muted tones...

... but which is firmly on the smaller side.

Access

  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum members flying with a Oneworld airline in any class of service, plus two guests when booked with Qatar Airways or one guest with all other Oneworld airlines
  • Other Oneworld Emerald members such as Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairmans Lounge when travelling with Qatar Airways or another Oneworld airline, plus one guest
  • First class passengers of any Oneworld airline, plus one guest
  • Business class passengers of any Oneworld airline are also welcome, but with no guests unless the traveller also holds Oneworld Emerald status

While we've listed all travellers who can technically access this lounge, business and first class flyers would find better comfort in the expansive Al Mourjan and Al Safwa lounges, respectively, while economy flyers of other Oneworld airlines are pointed to the nearby Oryx Lounge by default.

We should also note that when the lounge is overflowing, some fortunate visitors are redirected to Qatar's stellar Al Mourjan (business class) lounge.

Dining

Meals on offer are closer to a domestic lounge than an international 'first class' lounge with a few mezze bites and chilled sandwiches...

... two rotating soups with breads...

... and muffins and nibbles nearby the coffee machine:

That concludes your meal options, which you can enjoy in the dining room.

As pictured, some construction hoarding is in place while this area is expanded but there's no word on when – or indeed, if – true hot dishes will be served here.

The beverage selection is a little more promising with both still and sparkling water, soft drinks, juice, wine and spirits available...

... pleasingly with true (French) Champagne in the Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV, which retails for around A$70 a bottle.

But on the whole, for a lounge catering to frequent flyers jetting between Australia and Europe we'd expect to find much more than sandwiches and soup greeting the airline's – and the alliance's – highest-tier travellers, no matter which class they're travelling in.

Work

A lack of boarding calls here provides for some peace and quiet for getting things done, with power points hidden under various round discs on the floor...

... or near some of the lamps, including in this central private 'family area'...

... but which could equally be used by colleagues stuck in economy.

As the lounge doesn't offer its own wireless service you'll need to connect to the airport's own WiFi network, which we found delivered slow but usable 1Mbps speeds – but there was nowhere great to plonk a laptop, beyond the few tables in the dining room.

Relax

Kick back with a glass of Champagne as you peer into the terminal for some people watching...

... take a shower before your onward flight or pull up a chair in the high-walled TV zone...

... but which could do with a bigger TV to suit the space and make legible the scrolling bars commonly found on international news channels:

On the whole, for Qantas Platinum/Oneworld Emerald members stuck in economy on long journeys to Europe, Qatar Airways' First Class Lounge just doesn't live up to its name.

Also reviewed: Qatar Airways Al Mourjan lounge, Doha Hamad Airport

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

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!

Joshb

Joshb

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

These lounges look they're conceived and built to circumvent the spirit and rules of Oneworld membership.

For comparison, you're QF Plat and flying ex MEL on QF you have access as follows

In Eco - QF First Lounge

In PremEco - QF First Lounge

In Biz - QF First Lounge

In First - QF First Lounge

Now ex Doha and you're QF Plat flying QR

In Eco - QR First Lounge, which is worse than the Biz lounge

In Biz - Al Mourjan Lounge, which is better than QR First Lounge

In First - Al Safwa Lounge, which I assume is their real First lounge and is better than Al Mourjan

Bit of a raw deal if you're used to a proper First lounge, but you can see why they do it.

PaulST

PaulST

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2014

Total posts 52

Well that's confusing! So I'm a QF WP and flying out of Doha (with QR) in J so I should go to the  business class Al Mourjan lounge because it's better than the one reviewed here?

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

Was just there last night.
I agree, Al Mourjan business class lounge eclipses everything else in Doha and pretty much the rest of the world.

Do everything you can to sweet talk your way in to Al Mourjan if you have to and give this lounge a miss.

deanr

deanr

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 May 2015

Total posts 229

If Qatar is serious about attracting frequent travellers across from the competition then something really needs to be done about these piddly Oneworld lounges in Doha.

I usually fly business class for work but sometimes there are no seats available at the last minute or a client books an economy ticket because their own company has a low budget travel policy, in which case my choice of airline for the trip reflects the lounges I can use with my Qantas Platinum card.

Flying Melbourne to London, why would I give up the Emirates first class lounge in Dubai, the Cathay Wing first class lounge in HK or the MH first class lounge in KL to fly through Doha instead and use this lounge??

Same reason I avoid SQ economy with my Velocity Gold: don't take care of frequent flyers in your hub when connections form a huge part of your business model and I won't fly with you, simple.

Doubleplatinum Banned

Doubleplatinum Banned

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

I'm sure airlines like singapore wont miss you they seem to be doing just fine without your business! 

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Agreed re avoiding SQ.

I'm sure in their minds it makes sense. But I certainly don't see the logic of it. Your Business and First experience can't be that exclusive to warrant segregation.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

  • You don't fly QR in anything but Business or First 
  • QR and DOH is not a true OW carrier/hub because of all the caveats.

Take QR for what it is: A good way to earn mileage/TP/SC at an exponential rate in premium cabins from some markets for a very good price.

i.e. It's a filler for your annual travel target but not a reliable OW carrier in real life situations, which calls for unplanned relatively expensive and/or economy class travel. 

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 149

It's not totally different to what BA does at it's LHR T5 home.  They have a few 'Club Galleries' Lounges for J class/BA Silver/OW Sapphire travellers.  Then they have a massive 'Galleries First Lounge' which whilst pretty good (and definitely better than the QR lounge reviewed here) doesn't actually have any BA First Class punters in there.  This lounge is really just used by BA Golds/OW Emeralds not travelling in First.  The First Class punters will be in the 'Concord Room' which is the 'real' First Class lounge and only for those with an actual F boarding card.

I've used the Al Mourjan lounge in DOH quite a few times when travelling J on Qatar (they offer some amazing J class deals out of europe).  You can kinda see why they have this weird lounge policy in place.  Reality is even with just the bona fida J class punters having access the lounge (whilst great) is bursting at the seams during peak times.  I guess if you factored in frequent flyers with status travelling in Y it would just be overrun.  

Qatar also do the same at LHR.  They have their own lounge for J/F class QR passengers.  If you are flying Y with QR but hold FF status you are sent to the Skyteam Lounge instead (which is still at least decent).  

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

The difference is that the CCR and Galleries First is not materially different with the exception of the quality of booze, as I've been told.

The quality of the QR "First" lounge at DOH makes a mockery of the whole deal.

Mal

Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Yes, this is very much like BA at Heathrow except that the BA 'first class' proposition for those not actually flying in First is much better than the Qatar lounge. Airlines don't do themselves any favours by branding a lounge as 'first class' when there is actually nothing 'first class' about it.

Anyway it's good to see that AusBT can fly as a guest of an airline but still keep their independence and call a spade a spade!

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Agreed on the independence point! Good point!

athols

athols

27 May 2016

Total posts 5

I have to agree the review is spot on, if not a little generous.  I experienced this inferior Doha QR lounge set up in February this year and was very let down.  It is a very poor set up and one of the worst aspects is the smokers room in the middle of the lounge, immediately on entering the lounge you can smell the stench of stale cigarette smoke pervading every part of the lounge.  It certainly is not in the spirit of the one world agreements and the other One World alliance members should call out Qatar on their very shabby treatment of high tier members.  I am platinum on QF and this is the first place where an airline actively discriminate against economy ticket holders in this way.

The reality is, to be platinum on QF you have to be doing a huge numbe of flights/miles to earn this level.  Not just two or three business class flights.  The loyalty of high tier members is simply not recognised by this arrangement.

I have already chosen to not fly Qatar again out of Perth or anywhere else for that matter in protest at this shabby and underhanded treatment of Economy Platinum travellers.  Emirates have their failings but they have honoured the agreement with QF and provide superior lounges in most places.

Poor form Qatar!

HKGNZL

HKGNZL

QF

21 Jun 2016

Total posts 3

The QR biz lounge still look better than the QF international terminal lounge at Perth. Should QR not have the right to say QF mistreat their elite flyers? 

athols

athols

27 May 2016

Total posts 5

It is true QF have dropped the ball out of Perth with only one narrow body service daily to Singapore (2 on some days) so they clearly will not bother upgrading until they start more services out of Perth - we wait for that one.  Anyone on high level QF travelling on EK would go to the Emirates Lounge for a superior experience.  One World passengers get an average lounge with QF But you really can't compare the QF Perth International lounge with the so called first lounge in Doha.  The food is well yes, ordinary in QF Int'l Perth but it is a far more roomy generous lounge, not a second rate after thought aimed at circumventing the aims and reciprocity of One World.  We wait with some scepticism for the Dreamliner non-stop London service.  In meantime as average as economy is on EK, they do meet their obligations with very superior lounges all over the world.  This makes my long haul business trips bearable.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

Agree withat all this.  I'm here right now.   Flying at the back of the plane and could have flown any of the ME3 for my current flight.  EY would have given me their superb first lounge, EK their presumably acceptable J lounge  (not flown with them since I lost WP) but I assumed QR would be fine as a One World Emerald.  

What a joke.  I've never seen such a mis-labelled lounge.  Poor food,  mediocre drinks, noisy, crowded, limited space and seating...  Will certainly avoid QR for anything requiring anything more than a direct connection in future.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

Add to that...

- you need to tackle someone to ask for a beer

- the champagne has vanished

- there's a little dining area hidden off to the side, which is almost a bit of peace.   But the tables are dirty and unwiped

- soft drinks and mixers are warm

- you can have any white wine your want, so long as it's one of the two sickly sweet varieties on offer

- Gordons and Johnny Red as their gin and whisky? In a first class lounge!?

Sounds like first world problems, and relevant only to those OW Emeralds who randomly find themselves down the back, but seriously, these guys are taking the mickey. 

KelP-one

KelP-one

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 1

Totally agree with this review

The "first class lounge" is inferior to the domestic Qantas Club lounge in food offering, toilets and facilities.

I'm in the lounge right now and the photos and description are an accurate reflection of the overall experience - which is disappointing to say the least.

Will not be flying Qatar again as a paying leisure customer (and with the flow on effect of not flying business with them either)

ivanb52

ivanb52

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Aug 2014

Total posts 24

Traveled economy with Qatar with a 6 hour connection at Doha, and was offered paid access to "First Class Lounge" @ around $120 pp when I made the booking.

When you look at the Qatar website it only mentions their "flagship" lounges. There is a "Purchase Access" button there for the Business Lounge, but I figured since I was offered the First lounge with the booking I would take it up just for the rare experience.


But no, on arrival we were condescendingly told we should go to the "First Class "Lounge reviewed here.

I wish I had seen this review before I decided to pay up.

No way should this lounge be named "First Class" and at $120 a complete rip off.
I feel this is blatant misrepresentation of what is being offered.

I will likely consider Qatar again (if I can avoid the abominable seats on their B787s) but never again will I shell out for their lounge.

anthonyspiteri

anthonyspiteri

Etihad - Etihad Guest

20 Jun 2019

Total posts 3

Glad I read this before heading there next week... family had 1.5 hour transit at the airport and I was worried about missing out on a fine Lounge experience... might pop my head in for a look, but not so disapointed with the short turn around time now.

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