Qatar's new lounges open to Qantas, oneworld frequent flyers

By David Flynn, May 19 2014

Qatar Airways will admit eligible Oneworld travellers to its new 'premium' first class lounge at Hamad International Airport, marking a welcome reversal from the airline's policy for its lounges at Doha and London Heathrow.

The airline's new first class lounge at Hamad will open its doors to Platinum-grade members of Qatar Airways' Privilege Club frequent flyer scheme as well as Oneworld Emerald equivalents, including Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum and Platinum One.

Qatar's current Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport is restricted to the airline’s first class and business class passengers, with no access for top-tier frequent flyers of Oneworld partner airlines.

That said, delays to the fit out of Qatar's new first and business class lounges at Hamad means they won't be open to any guests until the end of July, despite the airline beginning flights from the new airport on May 27.

In the meantime, travellers will be accommodated in other lounges at Hamad to which Qatar has arranged access.

However, no change is expected to the policy for Qatar's London Heathrow Premium Lounge, which will remain exclusive to passengers booked into Qatar Airways' first class and business class cabins.

PREVIOUS | Qatar Airways has defended its decision not to allow top-tier frequent flyers of oneworld partner airlines such as Qantas into Qatar’s premium lounges at Doha and London Heathrow airports.

With Qatar joining the oneworld alliance, high-status frequent flyers of other oneworld airlines expected to enjoy access to Qatar’s flagship lounges even when they weren’t travelling at the pointy end of the plane.

That expectation was based on oneworld’s own lounge access policy for travellers with oneworld Emerald or Sapphire frequent flyer tier status.

(These respectively equate to Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum and Gold, British Airways Executive Club Gold and Silver and Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club Diamond and Gold, for example).

According to oneworld, “members of oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes with the equivalent of oneworld Emerald or Sapphire tier status can use any lounge offered by any oneworld airline when departing on any flight marketed and operated by any oneworld member airline, regardless of cabin class being flown” (italics added for emphasis).

“Emerald tier frequent flyers can use First Class, Business Class or frequent flyer lounges” while “Sapphire tier frequent flyers are welcome in Business Class or frequent flyer lounges” oneworld adds.

However Qatar allows only travellers booked into first class and business class into its lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, while high-status oneworld passengers flying in Qatar economy class are shepherded into the SkyTeam lounge at the other end of the terminal.

The SkyTeam lounge is quite impressive – it’s the first of three 'Exclusive Lounges' to open under the alliance’s own brand, alongside Istanbul and a new SkyTeam lounge for Sydney set to open early next year.

SkyTeam's London lounge is where many frequent flyers on Qatar will end up
SkyTeam's London lounge is where many frequent flyers on Qatar will end up

Never the less, Qatar’s decision to restrict access to its London lounge to first and business class flyers seems at odds with oneworld’s own policy.

In response, Qatar says that its London Heathrow Premium Lounge “is not part of the oneworld lounge proposition” due to its exclusive nature.

“QR offers both First and Business class lounge access for the First/Business traveller, his/her guest, and Emerald/Sapphire travellers” a spokeswoman for Qatar Airways told Australian Business Traveller.

First and business class only: Qatar's London Heathrow Premium Lounge
First and business class only: Qatar's London Heathrow Premium Lounge

Video tour & photos: Qatar Airway's luxe London Heathrow lounge

“At this time QR continues with their use of the SkyTeam Lounge in T4” for oneworld Emerald and Sapphire passengers, including the top ranks of Qatar’s own Privilege Club frequent flyer scheme, when not flying in Qatar’s premium cabins.

“In addition, QR offers a Premium Lounge which  is only for (first and business) ticketed passengers on QR or another oneworld member airline – not their guests, not Emerald/Sapphire passengers”.

The spokeswoman drew a comparison to British Airways’ Concorde Room at London Heathrow, which is only for passengers flying in BA’s first class cabin.

The same ‘Premium doesn’t count’ exemption applies to Qatar’s Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport, which is also exclusive to the airline’s first class and business class passengers.

“QR only makes this terminal available to passengers who hold First and Business Class tickets” explained Michael Blunt, oneworld’s Vice-President Corporate Communications.

“Qatar Airways’ own Privilege Club top tier members are not able to access the Premium Terminal when not travelling on First and Business Class tickets. They, like other oneworld FFPs, are offered premium passenger facilities such as priority check-in and lounges at the regular Doha terminal.”

This means that Qantas Platinum and Gold-grade frequent flyers, and their equivalents on other oneworld airlines, will need to make do with Qatar’s Oryx business lounge at Doha International Airport.

It's a similar situation to the 'Exclusive Waiting Areas' operated by oneworld member airberlin at several German airports, which are also exempt from oneworld's lounge access rules.

As oneworld's Blunt tells Australian Business Traveller, "Airberlin's exclusive waiting areas fall short of the definition of an airport lounge. They're essentially a part of the main departure hall reserved for airberlin premium customers."

Keep up to date with the latest news for business travellers and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

lee
lee

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2013

Total posts 25

What a sham!

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

The new entrant to oneworld sends passengers to a sky team lounge....

Can't wait to see the QR pax enjoying other oneworld partner airline lounges when flying down the back

12 Jul 2011

Total posts 76

I hope Oneworld tells QR to lift their game as this sets a precedent that I expect many airlines will follow!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

I actually wonder what (realistically) the OW management team can enforce on its member airlines.

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 128

meanwhile CX lounges continue to get more and more crowded due to CX's open door /most liberal policy in spite of having the best lounges.

Qatar is just following British Airways- they started it- if British airways stops- Qatar will comply especially sincs BA is a leader in the Alliance

OW members get funnelled to s skyteam lounge!!

epic downgrade

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 38

I don't see what the big fuss is, I think QR (and BA) are perfectly right to do this for their own passengers in their premium cabins. If you've paid or upgraded your own way into a premium cabin, I think you'd like to have a more exclusive experience and not have lounges overrun by others, and lacking amenities because of the sheer number of customers there. It's not like frequent flyers with status don't get any lounge, it's just you don't get to experience this one lounge. And if you want to, book into J or F on QR. I feel that's pretty fair.

Newbie7, I agree.

However this is an issue of the spirit versus letter of the OW framework, which feeds into the general cynicism of the travelling public.

In a way BA has been able to get away with it due to 2 factors:

  1. The Concord brand has always been associated with exclusivity and therefore outside the scope of a First class offering. BA has carefully and cleverly piggy-backed their lounge access policy on this basis of this widely accepted distinction.
  2. BA in addition to the Concord room, offers First Class lounges in both T3 and T5 (not sure if it's in T1). This takes the "sting" away.

While QR has made provisions for Sapphire and Emeralds, the fact that it is a Sky Team lounge and not even a dedicated First lounge for Emeralds is a bit of a slap in the face. They could have made an arrangement to use the MH First Lounge at T4 but they have chosen not to do so.

So while I agree with you its not really a big deal, the inconsistency and the blatant disregard for the spirit (not letter) of the OW Framework, not to mention coming from a new member to the alliance is a bit of an affront.

But people are free to choose and they'll take their business to whoever they see is more aligned to their values and expectations.

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

You should be able to use the MH lounge regardless of the agreement that QR has with Skyteam:

Members of oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes with the equivalent of oneworld Emerald or Sapphire tier status can use lounges offered by oneworld airlines when departing on any flight marketed and operated by any oneworld member airline, regardless of cabin class being flown (exceptions are noted below).


20 Feb 2012

Total posts 128

what if one book J/F on another Oneworld carrier?

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

Personally I am surprised, QR wants to keep the lounge exclusive and with the amount of OW Saphire and Emerald members it would flood the lounge and lower the experience. Since they also do not allow their own top FF access, I personally see no harm.

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

*not surprised that was 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

I agree with Newbie7 and KG here. People flying Economy who get access to premium lounges shouldn't automatically expect an entitlement to access better than what they paid for - regardless of their amount of flying.

I think this perk is a great one, as part of the program, but it doesn't do to stomp and huff if carriers limit access to those flying in premium cabins. You know you getting a good thing, so don't act like you are getting ripped off if airlines sometimes limit access.

If you want full access pay the respective fare. Even in premium lounges where Economy pax can get through the front door on status level, you often are not given priority for services such as spa bookings etc, so take a breath and just enjoy the access you do have. You are on a pretty good wicket as it is.

09 Jul 2012

Total posts 11

Meanwhile, 10,000 have died in a Philipines Typhoon 

QF

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 5

I will not be flying them, and neither will anyone from my company. You make the policy you pay the price. Second class airlines should not be let into One Word. You're not welcome. Go away. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 39

Graham S. It is a horrible situation that has happened in the Phillines but im not sure this is the place to express your sorrow. This is a website for all things planes and travel. If you so wish to express your sorrow about world events, use a different site. And to add to the real story here. Im a lowly Bronze flyer and I agree that 1st class lounge is what it says. Love to be there but why should every man and his mate  in eco be in there. Life sucks in many ways. Be it no access to 1st class lounge or being in the path of a storm.

I think that if an airline joins an alliance such as OW or SA or any of the others there needs to be consistency across right the board.  Like for like.  Otherwise it's just too confusing for passengers.

therealqueen Banned
therealqueen Banned

19 May 2014

Total posts 40

First class pax should receive highest priority, and top lounge facilities.

Platinum ff status is achieved by company's paying for their passage mostly in economy, why should they be given access to such facities. Keep them caged as air berlin have done in their waiting pens.

personally having platys in first class lounges devalues the whole experience of luxury and exclusivity.

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

It doesn't matter how one achieves the status, It's a OW privilege to have access to first class lounges, hence airlines that are part of the alliance should grant access and not have conflicting policies. It kind of defeats the purpose of being part of an alliance, offering customers a consistent experience no matter what alliance airline you fly. Regarding exclusivity for "true" F pax, BA has worked around this by having the Concorde room exclusively for F pax and very high status BA exec club members. I think this is great, but what QR does in LHR does not make sense IMHO.

The Star Alliance model you espouse has its limitations.

Clearly there was a business rationale for non-First class pax, who were deemed to be high-value customers to be given access to First Class lounges. If there wasn't, oneWorld wouldn't have done it given the precedence or practice by Star Alliance.

The industrial revolution heralded the age of mass consumerism, which works on the basis of titillating Joe and Joanne Public to want more - Particularly more of the things they can't have. Access to the First Class, if you like is the breaking down of the Lady Grantham's boudoirs door and giving the peasants of Yorkshire a taste of the fine cotton sheets, so they too may aspire to such luxuries.

This inturn generates the demand and future growth.

Perhaps more than anything, QR's move says much more about the state of social mobility in the Qatar.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Apr 2014

Total posts 35

Easy don't fly qatar if your gold or more , the other one worldnairlines  value you more importantly our corporate dollars can't be spent elsewhere  , interesting in the world of marketing you invite the best to network with the best to sell your product , mmmm luxury , limited , short lived , opurtuniry lost 


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