After flying in QSuites on Qatar Airways’ A350-1000 from Tokyo to Doha, I had a few hours until my flight to Vienna would depart. Since my connecting flight was in economy, I headed to the airport’s Priority Pass lounge.
While that would normally be the Al Maha Services Transfer Lounge, with that lounge being closed for the time being due to COVID-19, I headed straight to Oryx Lounge as instructed by the Priority Pass app. With Oryx Lounge being at capacity, though, upon presenting my Priority Pass card, I was handed an invitation to “Business Class Lounge.”
The reason this is a “First Class Lounge” review is that even the “Business Class Lounge” was full. That said, I should say here that these are not the excellent Al Safwa and Al Mourjan lounges. Instead, these are primarily meant for economy class passengers with status. In fact, the “First Class Lounge” was “first class” in its name only.
Location, Opening Hours & Access
Both the first and business class lounges are located in the same location and share a reception desk. As such, to get to either of them, all you need to do is get to the central area of the terminal and take the escalator located to the left side of the airport’s infamous giant teddy bear.
While normally the lounges are open 24 hours a day, as of the time of writing this article, eligible passengers can use the much better Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge. Qatar Airways’ elite status holders are even directed to the Al Safwa First Class Lounge. As such, while I am not 100% sure, the opening hours might be limited to times when the Oryx Lounge is likely to be full. Based on the Oneworld website, in fact, the First Class Lounge is supposed to be closed.
During normal times, Oneworld status holders eligible for lounge access as well as passengers traveling in first class are welcome. However, practically speaking, whoever is traveling in first class should head to the incomparably better Al Safwa lounge.
Both the business and first class lounges seem to essentially be a cheap way for Qatar Airways to satisfy Oneworld requirement of having to provide lounge access to the alliance airlines’ status holders without giving them access to their flagship lounges.
Without a doubt, design-wise, the lobby was the most impressive part of the lounge. With high ceilings, a large reception desk, and a line-up of clocks showing the time at major cities around the world, it gave a false impression of what the inside of the lounge might look like.
The interior of the First Class Lounge which was located to the right side of the reception desk (the Business Class Lounge was on the left side) was much less impressive. That said, it was still a pleasant enough place to spend a couple of hours in.
Just past the entrance, there were pairs of lounge chairs with coffee tables along windows overlooking the terminal. This type of seating continued further into the lounge where a wall with some plants made for a nice atmosphere. In the further part of the lounge, there were slightly different lounge chairs were arranged in pairs side-by-side.
In the middle of the seating area, there was a counter with some drinks (more on that later).
Along the left side of the lounge, there was a section with two TVs and some more lounging chairs separated from the rest of the lounge by a couple of large partitions. There was some more open seating too.
Further down on this side of the lounge was an aisle leading to a family room (a closed-off seating area), a smoking room, and the restrooms. On the other side of the family and smoking rooms, there was also a seating area with a few dining tables and good privacy.
Finally, in the very back of the lounge, there were some large sofa chairs (mostly used by passengers sleeping through their transit). There was also a dining area with a small buffet and a few dining tables.
Food and Drinks
When I got to the lounge around 4:30AM, there was no food available. Considering the lounge calls itself “First Class Lounge” and that there were quite a few people inside, I found it surprising that not even light packaged snacks were available. Still, there was a selection of soft drinks.
Cold drinks could mostly be found on a table in the dining area. Canned soda and bottled water were available. While the selection was alright (albeit a bit limited), the presentation looked more like something one would find at an outdoor event rather than in a lounge.
Hot drinks including coffee and tea, as well as some orange juice, could be found on the counter in the middle of the lounge.
As for alcoholic drinks, the lounge staff was asking some of the visitors whether they wanted wine. Not sure what was available overall, though.
Food was brought out shortly before 5:30AM. The buffet consisted of typical breakfast items including cereals, selection of packaged bread, yogurts, fruits, and some cold cuts.
The only warm items were congee and ful medames which seems to be a bean stew.
Qatar Airways First Class Lounge Doha Summary
To sum things up, I think it is important to look at the lounge from two different angles.
Considering that I got into the lounge using Priority Pass, it was not bad. While the food and drink selection was not as extensive as in some other lounges I accessed with Priority Pass in the past, they were still decent. Additionally, there was plenty of seating and the overall lounge design was fairly nice.
The two downsides were the lack of work desks (something I always appreciate as I enjoy working while waiting for my flights) and the lack of any food before 5:30AM.
On the other hand, though, if what was provided is not too far from what is provided during the time that the lounge is in regular operations (i.e. during non-COVID-19 times), then the lounge is disappointing. While I understand that Qatar Airways wants to keep economy class passengers with status out of its flagship lounges, the “First Class Lounge” is a very poor solution for that.
All in all, if you are eligible to go to either the Al Safwa or Al Mourjan lounge, then stay away from this lounge. If it is your only option, then it’s an OK place to spend a couple of hours.