This morning, Qatar Airways has officially adopted Avios as its frequent flyer currency. Qmiles are no more.
You can now link your British Airways Executive Club account with your Qatar Privilege Club account and move Avios back and forth at a 1:1 ratio. Our ‘how to’ guide to account linking is here.
If you think ‘so what?’ because you could already book Qatar Airways flights via British Airways Executive Club, then you need to think again.
This is such a big topic that it’s going to take us a number of articles over a number of days to explore its nuances. In this introductory piece, I want to highlight a few things that should get you excited, or at least intrigued.
There are two additional articles today:
- We have a step-by-step guide to linking your British Airways Executive Club and Qatar Privilege Club acounts
- You can get a generous bonus with a Qatar Airways ‘cash and Avios’ promotion – read more here and book here
Qatar Airways reward flight pricing has changed, irrespective of where you book
Historically, if you booked a Qatar Airways flight on ba.com using Avios, it priced off the ‘partner reward chart’ which you can see in this HfP article.
This is no longer the case.
From today, Qatar Airways and British Airways flights will cost the same number of Avios irrespective of whether you book them on qatarairways.com via Privilege Club or ba.com via Executive Club.
I do NOT mean that you will use the same number of Avios to fly to the same city on British Airways or Qatar Airways. I mean that there is no Avios arbitrage between the two websites:
- a British Airways off-peak flight to New York in Business will cost 100,000 Avios via Executive Club on ba.com or Privilege Club on qatarairways.com
- a Qatar Airways flight to Dubai in Business will cost 100,000 Avios via Executive Club on ba.com or Privilege Club on qatarairways.com
Qatar Airways has lower taxes than British Airways
When comparing British Airways and Qatar Airways redemptions to the same city, you should find that taxes and charges are lower on the Qatar Airways flight.
You can’t use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher or a Barclays upgrade voucher on Qatar Airways redemptions, of course. Your flight will also involve a connection in Doha.
It doesn’t matter which website you book on. For most destinations, you will pay a similar level of taxes irrespective of whether you book Qatar Airways redemption flights on the BA or Qatar Airways websites.
There is a difference when you book Business Class and your connecting flight from Doha is on a short-haul aircraft. This is what you would get if you booked London – Doha – Dubai for example.
This is down to how the BA website handles the connection, which is on a two-class aircraft featuring just Economy and First Class. It means that you pay £50 more to book the routing above on ba.com.
Qatar Airways redemption flights starting outside the UK are great value
Qatar Airways has a broad network of departure points across Europe, allowing you to save a substantial amount on Air Passenger Duty and UK airport charges.
Again, we’ll look at this more closely in a few days but here is an example (remember that you ONLY see this pricing if you book on qatarairways.com):
- London to Bangkok, Business Class, on Qatar Airways – £526 of taxes and charges
- Dublin to Bangkok, Business Class, on Qatar Airways – £295 (€355) of taxes and charges
- Amsterdam to Bangkok, Business Class, on Qatar Airways – £318 (€383) of taxes and charges
- London to Bangkok, Business Class, on British Airways – £759 of taxes and charges
The real difference is availability, however. In practice there are ZERO dates you can get Club World seats to Bangkok over the next year. Qatar Airways is wide open.
Qatar Airways also has a superior Business Class product to British Airways, especially if you can secure flights with Qsuite:
and, especially good for families:
Our most recent Qsuite flight review is here and we plan to run a fresh one in the next few weeks.
Avios requirements on Qatar Airways are often cheaper too
In our Bangkok example above, Qatar Airways wants 150,000 Avios return. British Airways wants either 150,000 or 180,000 Avios depending on date.
Look at Sydney. British Airways, in the unlikely opportunity that you can find a seat, wants 250,000 or 300,000 Avios return in Business Class.
Qatar Airways has decent availability for 180,000 Avios and under £600 of taxes and it flies to multiple cities across Australia.
Remember that Avios transfer to and from British Airways Executive Club to Qatar Privilege Club in a 1:1 ratio.
Qatar Airways will guarantee Avios seats in all cabins on all flights
Like British Airways, Qatar Airways will be guaranteeing Avios seats in all cabins on all flights. The exact amount will vary by cabin and by aircraft type, but there will be at least two Business Class seats available.
This is not a ‘big bang’ change. For practical reasons Qatar Airways hasn’t been able to open up every flight in the schedule from today, but it will happen.
You can use ‘cash and Avios’ to get cheaper cash tickets on Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has adopted ‘cash and Avios’. This allows you to use your Avios to save money on a cash ticket, which means you get around issues of award availability.
You can now earn and spend Avios on new airlines
Qatar Airways has partnerships with a number of airlines outside of the oneworld alliance. You can now earn and spend Avios with new airlines – see here.
We will look at this in more detail on another day, but I am most excited by the opportunity to redeem Avios on Oman Air, especially as British Airways no longer flies to Muscat.
Unfortunately, you cannot redeem with partner airlines online, but I believe it is in hand to launch later this year.
You can now earn and spend Avios with new hotel and car partners
This is also an article for another day, but a lot of new Avios earning options with partners are now available (as long as you open a Privilege Club account).
Europcar, Hertz and SIXT car rentals can now you earn Avios, for example – see here.
None of this applies to Iberia Plus members, unfortunately
It appears that you can only link British Airways Executive Club accounts to Qatar Privilege Club.
You can’t link Iberia Plus, Vueling Club or AerClub accounts.
This isn’t a huge problem but it is a bit annoying. You can use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move Avios from Iberia, Vueling or Aer Lingus into a British Airways account, and then on to Qatar Airways.
We will have a lot more on the benefits of this new partnership over the next few days.
The bottom line is that if you don’t think there is anything in it for you, you’re wrong.
Even if you never fly with Qatar Airways, you’ll be grateful for this partnership next time you use an airline, hotel or car rental company which works with Privilege Club but doesn’t work with British Airways.