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Qatar Airways introduces ‘basic business class’ with NO lounge access

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Last year, Emirates unbundled its business class fares and started offering a basic fare that came without lounge access.

Qatar Airways is now following and is segmenting its fares into three categories: ‘Classic’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Elite’. It is also simplifying its economy fares.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the new options are already bookable, although they don’t appear to be available on all flights.

Here is what you get in Business Class in each of the three buckets:

Classic

  • Base level Qmiles
  • 40kg checked luggage
  • 2 pieces of hand luggage
  • Higher cancellation fee
  • Seat selection at check in

Comfort

  • Higher number of Qmiles
  • Same luggage allowance as Classic
  • Lower cancellation fee
  • Seat selection at booking
  • Lounge access

Elite

  • Even higher number of Qmiles
  • Same luggage allowance as Classic and Comfort
  • Free cancellation
  • Seat selection at booking
  • Lounge access

Can business class without lounge access really be called ‘Classic’?

Qatar Airways has decided that its lowest offering will be called ‘Classic’. This fare, however, removes some traditional business class perks such as airport lounge access and seat selection at booking.

Calling it ‘Classic’ when no previous Qatar Airways business class ticket came without lounge access seems like a bit of a misnomer.

Whilst adding a new unbundled fare is a positive move to the extent that it gives the passenger more choice, the nomenclature is a little misleading and might result in misunderstandings. Calling this ‘Basic’ or ‘Lite’ might more accurately represent the offering.

The losers are likely to be business class passengers who, by company policy, are obliged to take the lowest fare quoted. This will leave them without lounge access or free seat selection. It is worth noting that – whilst the cost differential in my example above is not huge – this is not always the case.

The elephant in the room is that free seat selection does not have a huge amount of value at the moment. Business class cabins are unlikely to be full for some time and the chance of not being able to sit with your partner or colleague is slim. Qatar’s closed-door Qsuite product in Business Class also means that it simply isn’t that important.

It isn’t clear, if you have oneworld status – such as a British Airways Executive Club Silver card – whether you would still be allowed into the main Qatar Airways lounge complex. You may be shunted off to one of the inferior satellite lounges used by other oneworld airlines, even if flying in Qsuite.

The real test will be whether this means genuinely lower business class fares in Classic or whether ‘lounge access’ fares are now more expensive than they would have been previously.

Classic fares will, it seems, book into ‘R’ class and still earn Avios and British Airways tier points if credited to British Airways Executive Club. I would imagine, based on precedent, that Qatar Airways flights booked using Avios WILL continue to come with lounge access and seat selection.

PS. It is not clear what happens to existing bookings, but I would assume that ‘R’ class discounted tickets will continue to receive lounge access and free seat selection.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (October 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a special 30,000 points sign-up bonus until 9th November 2021.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (100)

  • Vin says:

    Be interesting to see if they offer different OW Tier points based on the fare booked – which is one of the big factors in choosing QR over BA as a route to status, the avios earned being of (relatively) less importance.

    • Andrew says:

      But that is for BA to decide not QR. BA set them number of TPs you earn based on the route you fly not set by the airline you fly. If you credit your flights to QR it’s far less lucrative as they set the equivalent TPs to reflect that most people are on a connecting flight. BA’s TP structure is based on most people flying direct which is why flying QR is so lucrative as BA treat it as two long haul flights.

      • Charlieface says:

        Not quite. BA base it on how much QR pay them for the miles, which will depend on the fare class and is decided by QR.

        • Andrew says:

          Incorrect. Tier Points are different to Avios. BA set a standard 140 Tier Points for ALL long haul routes (with a few exceptions for ultra long haul to Australia which are 160). This is regardless of the airline you fly or how much you pay for the ticket.

  • tony says:

    Seems like a potential own goal to me. People will buy through travel agents and feel they have been mis-sold to, others who might have paid a price between classic and comfort will veer towards a different carrier.

    Didn’t Lufthansa try something similar maybe 5 years back?

  • Matthew says:

    It bugs me when companies charge more for a service only to advertise the extra benefits as ‘free’. Pay £300 more and get ‘free’ lounge access?! Clearly it’s not free!

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    I would argue that the cost differential in your example is other than “not huge”.

    Would I really get £300+ of value from sitting in a lounge? I would either need to consume a lot of ‘free’ food and drink (without spoiling the inflight offering) or really value sitting on a slightly better chair. If more than one is traveling this hurdle gets even higher. £600 would go a long way towards paid food and drink elsewhere.

    • tony says:

      The screen grab given in the article seems particularly kind to QR. I just looked at LON-HKG and it was close on a £1000 difference each way, with the difference being most pronounced when you take the cheapest fares (5 day minimum, Saturday night etc). I then looked at EK who were charging about £100 more each way – and that included a car to take you to the airport! Eye-popping to say the very least.

    • mvcvz says:

      It would indeed.

  • Rob Collins says:

    I think this is what people mean when they refer to ‘First World problems’.

    • mvcvz says:

      Perhaps. But they relate to “first world prices”. So not seeing your point.

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Due to the current boom in travel, we have had to come up with a way to make our lounges less crowded!

    BA went the other way, offering lounge access to economy passengers on BA Holidays bookings, didn’t they.

    Seems that Qatar and BA are on different planets.

  • Ian M says:

    If you have BA Silver/Gold status, will you receive free seat selection at time of booking regardless of which category you book?

  • LewisB says:

    Wow. CWL > DOH on April 15th, 2021. Classic is £1993. Comfort is £1618. Elite is £2070. Now that doesn’t make much sense!

    • Track says:

      It does as some travel agents are bound to book into lower booking classes (in pecking order).

      Those would normally be the cheapest fares, but do not have to be.

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