One of the supposed benefits of the One World alliance is that members of one frequent flyer programme are able to access lounges of member airlines even when flying on a different member airline, based on their membership status not ticket class. However not all airlines stick to the spirit of this agreement – for example, British Airways reserves its Concorde Room at Heathrow for its own passengers and has designated a different lounge as its “first class” lounge for One World Emerald members. Similarly, whereas a Qatar passenger with One World Emerald status would be welcomed into Cathay’s first class Pier and Wing lounges at Hong Kong airport, in Doha Qatar keeps its lounges for its own passengers, setting up different “first class” lounges for One World elite members.
Qatar does the same in Doha. I find it quite hard for the airlines to justify this – the point of the alliance is that the benefits are offered to elite members of other airlines by virtue of their status, so bypassing that intention in this way rather undermines the benefit of the alliance from a passenger’s perspective in some way. In any case, in Doha, Cathay’s Marco Polo higher tier members, unless travelling in Qatar’s business or first class, are limited to this pseudo-first class lounge.
The lounge is not clearly signposted but is fairly easy to find. In the central lobby of the airport, as you look at the oversized statue of a teddy bear, there are some escalators on your left. One of them brings you up to the entrance to both the “business class” and the “first class” lounges.
The lounge is not huge but also does not seem especially busy. There are a number of different styles of seat in different parts, and a television watching area. Many seats do not have power points beside them.
By the dining area there are seats which do have power points. However, the entire lounge has a glass roof and this half of the lounge is under an enormous LED advertising hoarding, so the lighting continually changes in this area, making it feel not calm at all. If you do not want flashing lights changing regularly overhead, it is best to sit closer to the door.
The food and drink offerings in the lounge do not feel genuinely first class. The food is from a self-serve buffet and is decent but in no way remarkable. The selection is fairly limited.
As to drinks, my visits were during Ramadan so there was no alcohol on offer. Instead there is a self-service trolley of soft drinks, and a coffee machine.
The lounge’s other amenities include showers and a wide range of international press, although most of it is not original but of the “faxed” variety.
Overall, this lounge is underwhelming for what is claimed to be a first class lounge.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.