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Qatar Airways operates what is often considered one of the top first class lounges in the world. The Al Safwa First Class Lounge at the airline’s main hub in Doha opened in 2014 along with Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH). As TPG’s JT Genter put it in his review of the lounge, the new airport coupled with Qatar Airway’s phenomenal first class product “established itself as one of the most luxurious airport experiences in the world.” However, the Al Safwa Lounge also features one of the most restrictive access policies of any lounge.

On the contrary, Qatar’s far less luxurious Al Mourjan Business Lounge at DOH is frequently overcrowded due to its less restrictive access policy, which has reportedly lead to cutbacks in amenities. However, a few weeks ago, multiple reports confirmed that Qatar Airways had come up with a rather unique way of alleviating overcrowding at the Al Mourjan Business Lounge: Qatar Airways began selling access to the Al Safwa First Class Lounge to Business Class passengers.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge in Doha (Image by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Details of Qatar Airways’s new Al Safwa buy-up option are still extremely limited. Initially, most reports stated that to upgrade to the Al Safwa First Class Lounge, travelers had to be traveling on paid Business Class tickets. That meant that both passengers who had upgraded from economy and those passengers traveling on award tickets could not access the Al Safwa Lounge.

Obviously, this news came as a big letdown to many points and miles enthusiasts. Qatar Airways’s Business Class product is a very popular award redemption that many travelers aspire to reach. Thanks to Qatar Airways’ status as a Oneworld alliance partner, booking an award ticket on Qatar Airways can typically be done with ease through Oneworld partner American Airlines.

Luckily, weeks after Qatar Airways began selling Al Safwa Lounge access, reports from other travel blogs including One Mile At A Time claim that even those traveling on award tickets can buy-up to Qatar’s ultra-luxe First Class Lounge in Doha. Here are the details:

To access the Al Safwa First Class Lounge when traveling in a lower class of service:

  • Travelers must be booked in Business Class. It appears that economy class passengers are still excluded from any buy-up lounge access deal.
  • Travelers must present a Business Class boarding pass, even if they have managed to upgrade to Business Class from economy.
  • Eligible Business Class tickets include paid tickets and award tickets as well. This includes partner award tickets.
  • Availability may vary. Since details are unavailable to the public, it’s assumed that Qatar Airways is selling access to the Al Safwa Lounge based on the capacity of its First Class Lounge. If the First Class Lounge is unusually busy, it’s very likely that the option to upgrade lounge access will be unavailable.
  • The price to upgrade from the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge to the Al Safwa First Class Lounge appears to run anywhere from $69 USD (250QAR) to $99 USD (350QAR). One Mile At A Time has reported that $69 is the standard price to upgrade.

To reiterate a point made throughout this post, the option to upgrade lounge access is not a stated service found anywhere on Qatar Airways’ website. This means that travelers will experience varying degrees of success when attempting to upgrade their lounge access. However, even if the option to purchase Al Safwa First Class Lounge access isn’t immediately offered when you check into the Al Mourjan Lounge, be sure to ask.

As mentioned, the Al Safwa Lounge is one of the most luxurious first class lounges in the world and the amenities offered to guests are truly jaw-dropping. From $150 bottle of champagne to private bedrooms, the Al Safwa First Class Lounge should be at the top of every frequent flyer’s bucket list. Now, thanks to Qatar Airways’s new buy-up option, it’s much easier to cross this lounge off that bucket list.

Have you traveled through Doha on a Business Class ticket and been offered access to the Al Safwa Lounge? Let us know in the comments.

H/T: One Mile At A Time

Featured image by JT Genter/The Points Guy

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