After a short stay in Doha, it was time to head to my flight to Beijing. With about an hour to spare before boarding, I figured I might as well check out the Al Maha Lounge, the only Priority Pass lounge at Doha Hamad International Airport.
The 24-hour Al Maha Lounge is located by that freaky yellow bear in the South Node of the airport. Look for an escalator — and if you’re lucky, some staff guiding you to the correct lounge — by the signs for the ABC gates.
I happened to be checking-in to the Al Maha Lounge during one of the airport’s peak periods (between 22:00 and 02:00). There’s always a DYKWIA (do you know who I am?)-type cutting the queue, and I noticed of people stroll in from the elevator while the check-in employees were occupied. True, they may have already been invited in, but if you really want to get into this subpar lounge, try the elevator?
My key takeaway: if only those seats had little boards that slid out, ones that could be used to eat, or place a tablet to watch a movie; I ended up using a coat rack on which to place my food. Or, if that makes it seem like passengers could too easily monopolizes seats, have staff actually control the capacity. It seemed very lax that night (as might have been evidenced by the “elevator loophole.”)
Another thing: where I was sitting — I turned right after checking-in, and seated myself in the far corner — there was no wi-fi signal. Rubbish. They relied on the airport’s wi-fi, and not their own.
The Al Maha Lounge aesthetic reminded me a bit of some 1980s shopping center in the United States (it was just missing the myriad fountains). It definitely felt crowded (mainly because the food and drink areas were very compact), and the acoustics were terrible.
I stayed for only about 30 minutes, just enough time to send off a couple of e-mails, grab a bite, and not realize how far my gate truly was.
Food and Drink
A mediocre choice of Lebanese snacks, sandwiches, and desserts; although to be fair, the hummus, tabouleh, and desserts weren’t bad (for a lounge).
Seeing the Sanpellegrino though meant I wouldn’t have to rely on unreliable flight attendant service for a drink, so those bottles were a big plus.
Ultimately, the lounge had one purpose for me — to nab a Sanpellegrino and a water. I always try to have a bottle for a flight, and then for the trip to the city after arrival. So in that regard, it beats many of the European lounges (which often only have glass bottles).
There’s nothing else of note to say about the Al Maha Lounge. I suppose if my flight were delayed, I would’ve eaten more, but really it was fine getting out of there just 30 minutes later. Typically, I’d then go to a quieter gate area, and start up the ol’ computer. Considering that the other seats were taken, and there was no wi-fi in my seat, I might as well have done that.