While Emirates has quite an impressive first class lounge in Dubai, Etihad and Qatar both don’t have any first class lounges at the moment.
Both airlines have lounges under construction, which were supposed to open months ago. The good news is that for one of the lounges, an opening date might finally be in sight.
Qatar Airways finally began operating out of Doha’s new Hamad International Airport last May, after a huge delay. Originally the new first class lounge was supposed to open a few months after the airport opened, though the opening date got pushed back further and further and further.
Eventually it was announced that the lounge would open in April 2015. The reason for the delay? The lounge’s “very high standards and finishes.”
The lounge still isn’t open to this date, but it seems like it might finally open soon.
Last week I transited Doha’s Hamad International Airport, and as I exited transit security I saw the escalator to the Al Safwa First Class Lounge. There was a barrier blocking it off, but interestingly the escalator was moving. It really did look like the lounge was almost complete, especially as there were no visible signs of construction.
The entrance to the first class lounge is located across from the $6.8 million teddy bear (which looks like it’s being interrogated, no?).
As I entered the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge I decided to ask an associate when the Al Safwa Lounge would open.
Me: “Excuse me, do you have any idea when the Al Safwa Lounge will open?”
Me: “Well they have been saying ‘soon’ for over a year now. Do you have anything more specific than that?”
Associate: “Yes, we have been saying ‘soon’ for a while, but now it is very soon.”
Me: “So like a week? A month? A year?”
Associate: “Very very soon.”
Hah, so after that I made a game of asking as many associates as possible about when the Al Safwa Lounge will open. I wanted to see who could use the word “very” most often as a modifier for when the lounge would open. The record was four.
While we don’t have an exact opening date, it looks like we now have a good reason to believe that the new lounge will open within a couple of weeks at most.
OnePassenger on FlyerTalk somehow got an “insider” look at the lounge, and claims it’s supposed to open before November 2015. Apparently the lounge is ready to go, “except for some pictures that await framing, and [cultural] artifacts that need to be placed.” I’m not surprised this is delaying the opening, given His Excellency’s attention to detail.
OnePassenger also notes that the lounge will strictly be for Qatar Airways first class passengers, and not for oneworld Emerald members, though that had already been revealed.
Keep in mind that Qatar Airways markets the forward cabin on their shorthaul flights as first class, so you’d get access to the Al Safwa Lounge if flying first class from Doha to Dubai, for example.
Furthermore, arriving first class passengers with connections in business class get access to the Al Safwa Lounge, but only if connecting off a first class flight of more than five hours (in other words, if arriving from London, Paris, or Bangkok, and connecting onto a flight in business class).
That’s to say that flying regional first class to Doha and then connecting to a longhaul flight in business class won’t get you access to the Al Safwa Lounge.
I’m excited for the Al Safwa Lounge to finally open, and it shouldn’t be too tough to access, given that shorthaul first class passengers get access to it. The lounge should be pretty spectacular, especially since it’s the same size as the Al Mourjan Lounge, which is massive. Hopefully it also means that the Al Mourjan Lounge will be significantly less crowded.
I’ll post again once the lounge is officially open… while I wouldn’t count on it being in October as promised, I’m optimistic it’ll open in 2015.
So, who is excited to check out the new Qatar Airways first class lounge?