First Class reward tickets are hard to redeem. That's particularly true on long-haul flights across all carriers. However, there's a way you can enjoy part of a First Class experience. One of my goals is not so much sitting in a First Class seat but to sit in one of the best First Class airline lounge.
Qatar Airways makes that possible by giving you access to Al Safwa First Class lounge for a fraction of the price.
How? Let's see what trick allows that.
Restricted access to Al Safwa First Class lounge
Al Safwa First Class lounge is Qatar Airways' jewel at Hamad International Airport (DOH). It features huge spaces, art, restaurants, family areas, rooms and showers. On top of that, the lounge is never crowded.
However, Qatar Airways applies a lot of restrictions:
🚫 Oneworld Emerald don't have access to the lounge;
🚫 Qatar Airways Privilege Platinum don't have access to the lounge;
🚫 Operational upgrades to First Class do not get access;
🚫 Passengers with a First Class boarding pass transiting from a flight shorter than 5 hours are not welcome either;
Consequently, options don't abound. Even more supply is scarce since it comes from high demand destinations: London, Paris, Bangkok & Sydney on A380.
I don't care for a First Class seat right now.
I want to experience the First Class lounge.
Qatar Airways regional flights premium pricing
Qatar Airways sets some of its Business Class fares in a peculiar way. When you search pricing on some Gulf destinations you notice that there are no Business Class fares. The only fares you see are First Class as shown below. Yet it's regional fleet is equipped with Business Class seats only.
What does that mean?
Pricing Business Class tickets under a First Class cluster means you have access to Al Safwa First Class lounge. Qatar Airways applies that to many of it Gulf region destinations.
How can I book the lowest reward flight to access Al Safwa First Class lounge?
Unless you have Qatar Airways Privilege miles then your best bet is through your British Airways Executive Club account. Qatar Airways is part of the oneworld alliance and has close ties to British Airways. It owns 10% of the IAG Group.
You can search the lowest First Class using your Avios. My best is set on Muscat, Oman (MCT). Not only is it a short-haul flight but also a great destination to visit: Oman issues 10-day free tourism visa if you fly in from Doha or Dubai.
A reward one-way flight will cost 18,000 Avios and $94.02 in taxes and fees.
It's the best way to enjoy more than a couple of hours at one of the best First Class lounges in the world. It's Qatar Airways' pride - having tried Al Mourjan Business Class lounge for 5 hours - I don't doubt it a moment.