Opened less than two years ago, Oman Air has created a large, modern facility for business and first class passengers transiting its home base. Here’s what we thought of the carrier’s flagship lounge following a recent long layover of around eight hours.
Opened in November 2018, and featuring lots of glass and marble, the new Muscat International Airport is impressive.
The fact that Oman Air has a more limited route network and carries fewer passengers than its rivals in the Gulf makes for a more pleasant passenger experience when moving around the airport.
The new business and first class lounge is six times larger than the one available at the old airport and is located in the centre of level five, meaning you’ll need to take an escalator or lift.
There are a number of other lounges and a hotel in the same complex.
This is how the Oman Air lounge looks from the outside:
What’s inside the lounge?
Both the lounge exterior and the entrance look great, with large model planes in the foyer.
Checking in just before 6pm, I enquired about paying to upgrade my next business class flight to first class (on a previous visit, this was dismissed and I was told it’s not possible).
This time, however, the lounge check-in agent took my boarding pass, saying he would find out the price and come back to me.
The lounge was quiet at this time, so I had a good chance to explore the facilities available. They include a business centre, prayer rooms for both sexes, multiple washrooms, a kids play area, private family rooms and a “nap room”.
The nap room contained six leather day beds with wrap-around curtains though there is actually seating directly in front of the day beds, so they aren’t all that quiet.
Seating is widely available throughout, and I have a hard time believing Oman Air is ever able to fill this lounge.
There are two buffet areas/ restaurants, though the second was roped off and not in use.
Oman Air has a full service alcohol bar manned by a bartender, as well as a juice bar and a cigar lounge.
Wi-fi access is accessed by entering a password and there are plenty of U.K.-style plug sockets around.
Overall, the internal signposting isn’t great. There are corridors that lead to nothing and you have to walk from section to section to figure everything out and where you need to go.
After some time the lounge agent came to find me and informed me it would cost USD 2,476 to upgrade to first, so I politely declined.
Based on the high amount, and how specific a figure this was, it sounds like this was a straightforward fare recalculation, rather than the kind of “special offer” upgrades many other airlines offer shortly before departure.
Upstairs, there is a separate lounge area for first class passengers, though I am yet to visit.
Lounge bathroom facilities
The bathroom facilities are pretty good, and there are cleaning attendants working the whole time to maintain standards.
I dread to think what scenes prompted these signs to go up:
It’s also possible to take a shower if you wish.
Food and beverage
With plenty of time to kill before my flight to London, I had some food in the main restaurant area, including some nice pasta and vegetables.
The buffet included an excellent Rogan josh, an Omani chicken dish, pasta dishes, salads and cooked vegetables.
As well as a coffee machine (which made decent cappuccino and espresso), dotted around the restaurant area there were stations with cheese, bread and pastries, meze, desserts, fresh fruits and popcorn, if that’s your thing:
As I found on board, there was little in the way of interaction with the staff in the lounge. There are plenty of employees milling around, But they won’t ask if you’d like a drink from the bar or make any effort to converse with you.
The lounge never really got busy, even later on the evening, though the tranquility of the restaurant was periodically disturbed by passengers having phone calls or watching video clips on speaker.
What with the strange beeping noises, walkie talkie chatter and regular prayer music, it’s not exactly a peaceful experience.
In my opinion, this lounge perfectly replicates Oman Air’s on-board business class product: it’s new and looks great, but the service is totally lacking.
There’s no warmth or interaction from the staff and you are very much left to your own devices. This lounge is perfectly fine for a short visit, but I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about spending another long stretch over there.
Oman obviously has the cash to invest in great products, so it’s frustrating that they don’t finish the job and up their game in the service aspect.
Have you used the Oman Air business class and first class lounge? What did you make of the facilities and service?