I have had a lot of emails over the last few days about a Qatar Airways deal which has appeared on Groupon.
As with many Groupon deals, the headline becomes a lot less interesting once you have read the small print. The question is whether there is still value even if you are prepared to jump through all the hoops.
You can buy:
- a £9 voucher giving you 25% off Economy Saver fares
- a £19 voucher giving you 50% off Business Saver fares
The first thing to note is that Promo fares are excluded. This means that you cannot access the cheapest Qatar Airways deals.
Here are the other restrictions:
You can only use the voucher for flights starting in Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham or Edinburgh – no cheap ex-Europe tickets are possible
You can only fly to Jakarta, Colombo, Bali, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Yangon, Ras Al Khaimah, Krabi, Abu Dhabi, Windhoek, Nagpur, Maldives, Bangkok, Dar Es Salaam, Entebbe, Hanoi, Phuket, Muscat, Nairobi, Perth, Adelaide, Seychelles, Bengaluru, Kochi, Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Tokyo (Narita International Airport only), Phnom Penh, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland
The discount is applicable only to the airline fare and does not include taxes, airports costs, surcharges. This means that, for economy tickets, you will save a lot less than 25% because the taxes out of the UK often make up the bulk of the fare. It has a smaller impact on business class tickets.
The list of valid dates is tight – you cannot fly out between 9 – 28 December 2016 or 28 March – 10 April 2017 which knocks out Christmas and Easter
Note that, whilst Business and Economy Saver tickets can usually be changed for a fee, your ticket cannot be modified or cancelled
You cannot fly back between 31 December 2016 – 11 January 2017, 9 – 26 April 2017
All travel must be completed by 30 June 2017
Let’s look at a couple of random pricing examples.
London to Singapore, 11th – 18th February (half term for many)
Economy Value standard price – £863
Price with discount (25% off the ex-taxes number) – £726
The ‘real’ saving is 15%. It is obviously still a decent return on the £9 cost of the voucher. However, £726 for an economy return flight to Singapore still feels high. Expedia, on the same dates, has Vietnam, Turkish and China Southern at well under £500.
London to Sydney, 1st – 15th March
Business Promo standard price (cannot use voucher) – £3,576
Business Value standard price – £4,260
Price with discount (50% off the ex-taxes number) – £2,444
This is not too bad. £2,500 is the base level price I tell people to target when buying Sydney business class tickets from London. That said, fares under £2,000 are often available. For the same dates, Vietnam Airlines wants £1,711 for a brand new Boeing 787 on both legs. Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines, which are also both oneworld partners, are around £2,500. To be honest, I would choose Qatar over Cathay and Malaysia, but the point I am making is that the voucher is not getting you an extra-special deal.
If you think this deal is going to get you an exceptional bargain, think again.
On the other hand, if you have some specific travel plans in mind – and you can work around the date and destination restrictions – it is worth running the numbers, primarily for Business Class.
The Qatar Airways home page is here. Remember to ignore any ‘Promo’ fares.
To see the taxes element, which is not discounted, you need to click on ‘Price Breakdown’ which is an option on the summary pricing page.
If, and only if, you think there is a deal, you can buy your Groupon voucher here.
It is not clear when the Groupon offer will end but the vouchers expire on 30th October.
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