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.

How to access 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 (nor do Business class upgrades);

Consequently, options don’t abound. Even more supply is scarce since it comes from high demand destinations: London, Paris, Bangkok & Sydney on A380. Good luck getting that First Class upgrade.

Actually, I don’t care for a First Class seat. All I want is to experience the First Class lounge and here’s how you can score it.

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 & Levantine (Beirut, Amman) destinations you notice that there are no Business Class fares. The only fares you see are First Class as shown below. Yet its regional fleet is equipped with Business Class seats only.

Qatar Airways pricing on Doha-Kuwait
Qatar Airways pricing on Doha-Kuwait
Qatar Airways pricing on Doha-Muscat
Qatar Airways pricing on Doha-Muscat

What does that mean?

Tagging Business Class tickets under as First Class means you have access to Al Safwa First Class lounge. Qatar Airways applies that to most of its Gulf and Middle-Eastern destinations:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Amman
  • Beirut
  • Dammam
  • Dubai
  • Jeddah
  • Kuweït
  • Muscat
  • Riyad
  • Salalah

How to book the cheapest reward flight to access Al Safwa 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 (when spending a minimum of 24h in either city before landing in MCT).

A reward one-way flight will cost 18,000 Avios and $94.02 in taxes and fees.

Doha-Muscat First Class
Doha-Muscat First Class redemption
Doha-Muscat First Class fee
Doha-Muscat First Class fee

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.

Gabriel Leigh’s Own Experience

Flightradar24’s Gabriel Leigh has documented his Al Safwa longe experience in a Youtube video. I will let you enjoy his Most luxurious 40-minute flight: Qatar Airways QSuites and Al-Safwa First Class lounge experience!