Economy class is never usually a pleasant way to travel, but at least one airline has taken steps to make the long flights seafarers frequently take when joining or leaving their ships a bit more bearable.

Last Friday, on the Day of the Seafarer, Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker officially opened the Mariner Lounge at Doha’s Hamad International Airport.

Billed as an “exclusive and luxurious haven” the dedicated lounge facility is open to crews of commercial ships and people working in offshore industries who travel with Qatar Airways.

The Mariner Lounge, which the airline believes is an industry first, offers an international selection of food and beverages, unlimited high-speed wi-fi, shower facilities, a television area, reading materials and a business centre.

Lounge facilities such as these are a routine experience for C-suite executives jetting across the globe, but for seafarers who are expected to hit the deck running after days of arduous travel at the back end of an aircraft they have until now been just a dream.

Qatar Airways' Mariner Lounge at Doha's Hamad International Airport is reserved exclusively for seafarers and workers in offshore industries. Photo: Qatar Airways

Upgrades handed out

Qatar Airways also gave 495 seafarers the chance to experience the comforts of the front end of the aircraft last Friday when it handed out surprise upgrades to its award-winning premium cabins.

Al Baker said Qatar Airways was pleased to have played a "leading role" in the repatriation of seafarers stranded due to the pandemic, working closely with governments and the maritime industry.

“The international shipping industry is the lifeblood of the world economy, and as a leading global airline, Qatar Airways is truly proud to support the crews who, along with us, keep the world moving,” Al Baker said.

“We offer something no other airport or airline in the world currently provides — a peaceful space for these key workers to relax during their flight transfer as they make their way home or to their next posting.”

Qatar Airways has carried more than 380,000 seafarers and offshore workers since the pandemic outbreak. Included in this tally are around 28,000 seafarers carried on 100 repatriation and crew change charter flights.

On 25 June, the Day of the Seafarer, Qatar Airways gave 495 seafarers the opportunity to travel in its award-winning premium cabins. Photo: Qatar Airways