Barely a week after joining the oneworld airline alliance, Qatar Airways has been accused of breaking the rules by denying some premium frequent flyers from partner airlines access to its luxury lounges in London and Doha.
One of the few Gulf airlines to join an international alliance, the carrier is refusing access to top-tier frequent flyers with statuses such as gold and premium, unless they are travelling in business or first class.
The decision appears to be in stark contrast to the oneworld lounge policy.
“Members of oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes with the equivalent of oneworld Emerald or Sapphire tier status can use any lounge offered by any oneworld airline when departing on any flight marketed and operated by any oneworld member airline, regardless of cabin class being flown,” the policy on oneworld’s website says.
“Emerald tier frequent flyers can use First Class, Business Class or frequent flyer lounges.
“Sapphire tier frequent flyers are welcome in Business Class or frequent flyer lounges.”
However, at London’s Heathrow Airport, Qatar Airways is forcing high-status oneworld passengers who have chosen to fly economy to use the alliance’s own lounge.
The same disqualification applies at Doha International Airport, where premium frequent flyers in economy are barred from the Premium Terminal and told to use the far less luxurious Oryx business lounge.
Responding to the criticism, Qatar Airways (QR) said its premium lounge in London was not included in the oneworld lounge scheme because it was exclusive.
“QR offers both first and business class lounge access for the first/business traveller, his/her guest, and emerald/sapphire travellers,” a Qatar Airways spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller.
“In addition, QR offers a Premium Lounge which is only for (first and business) ticketed passengers on QR or another oneworld member airline – not their guests, not emerald/sapphire passengers”.
The spokeswoman said the situation was similar to British Airways’ Concorde room at London Heathrow, which is only for passengers flying in BA’s first class cabin.