Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

NEW: Spend and earn Avios on duty free at Doha’s Hamad International Airport

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An interesting new way to use your Avios for a non-flight redemption has just launched.

You can now use your Avios to pay, in full or in part, for purchases at virtually every shop and restaurant at Doha’s Hamad International Airport – over 170 of them.

In a radical move which is a global first, Qatar Airways will now award your Avios on cash flights TWO HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE – allowing you to spend them in Doha during your transit!

Qatar Duty Free use Avios

To receive your Avios at check in before your flight, you need to be crediting your flight to a Qatar Privilege Club Avios account. If your flight is being credited to a British Airways or Iberia Plus Avios account, the points will turn up a few days later as they do now and so won’t be available to spend immediately.

One interesting possibility here is to use the Avios earned on your first flight to upgrade your onward leg after your stopover!

You will also be able to earn Avios on virtually all purchases at Hamad International.

From a UK point of view, the only catch with all this is that your Avios need to be sitting in a Qatar Privilege Club account, or you need your British Airways account to be linked to your Qatar Airways one.

This HfP article shows how to link your Qatar Privilege Club and British Airways accounts.

How does the process work?

Full details are on this page of the Qatar Airways website.

This really is an incredibly slick process, and you can only dream of the day that British Airways could set up something like this. Of course, it helps when the airport, the duty free operation and the airline are under the same ownership!

As I noted above, you will receive your Avios around two hours before your flight departs if you are crediting them to a Qatar Privilege Club account.

During your transit in Doha – assuming you are in transit – you simply scan your boarding pass when buying anything in the airport. The cashier will instantly see how many Avios you have in your Qatar Privilege Club account, and you can choose to use some or all of them towards your purchase.

(If you are crediting your flight to British Airways Executive Club or another programme and your Qatar Privilege Club number is not on your boarding pass, you can show your Qatar Privilege Club membership card on your phone instead.)

You earn Avios in the same way – scan your boarding pass to bring up your Qatar Privilege Club account number, or have your membership card scanned.

For security reasons, Avios can only be redeemed from an account which matches the name on the boarding pass.

Qatar Duty Free spend Avios

What is the Avios earn and spend rate at Qatar Duty Free?

The spend rate is not fantastic, to be honest.

You will get 0.65 cents per Avios redeemed, which is currently 0.53p.

This is weaker than transferring your Avios to Nectar and spending them in Sainsburys, Argos or at eBay.co.uk.

It is, however, a very easy way of spending them.

To be honest, the target market here is less the hardcore HfP Avios collector and more the casual flyer.

Imagine that you check in for your Business Class flight and get a notification saying that you now have, say, £30-worth of Avios credit which you can use during your transit.

It is fairly compelling offer, especially as it allows the occasional flyer to burn 100% of the Avios from their flight during the flight itself. No more sitting around with an orphaned balance which may never be redeemed.

It is also a great way of getting new members involved in the loyalty scheme, especially as research shows that members become more loyal after a successful first redemption.

The Avios earning rate on purchases at Qatar Duty Free is 1 Avios per 5 Riyals (£1.08). These need to be credited to a Qatar Privilege Club account but can be easily moved over to a linked British Airways Executive Club account.

You also get a Qatar Duty Free discount when using Avios

What may tilt the balance is that you will also get a discount on your purchases at Qatar Duty Free when you pay with Avios.

You save:

  • Burgundy members: 10% discount (this is the ‘no status’ level you get for signing up)
  • Silver members: 15% discount
  • Gold members: 15% discount
  • Platinum members: 20% discount

Factor in the discount on top of the 0.65 cents per point redemption rate and it looks a lot more interesting.

The discount only applies to purchases in the main duty free store and not to purchases at branded retailers or food and beverage outlets, although you can earn and spend Avios at virtually all outlets in the terminal.

If you are passing through Doha on a flight soon, it is worth signing up for Privilege Club membership and paying with Avios at duty free purely for the discount.

If you aren’t concerned about earning British Airways Executive Club tier points from your flight, you might as well credit it to your QPC account and benefit from the instant crediting of your Avios too.

The Orchard Doha airport

Hamad Airport now has a new shopping complex

Back in November 2022, although we didn’t mention it at the time, Hamad International opened The Orchard.

This is billed as a 60,000 square foot rainforest-like atrium, surrounded by new eating and shopping options. It claims to have 300 trees and 25,000 plants, with some trees reaching 50 feet high, and a large water feature.

As you can see above, it has elements of the ‘Jewel’ garden and fountain unveiled at Singapore’s Changi Airport a few years ago.

The new area includes the new oneworld airport lounges which we covered in this article, as well as a new hotel.

Get 4,000 Avios for joining Qatar Privilege Club and taking one flight

Qatar Airways is still offering a sign-up bonus to new members of Privilege Club. Via this link you will receive:

  • 2,000 bonus Avios if your first credited flight is in Economy
  • 4,000 bonus Avios if your first credited flight is in Business

If the bonus credits along with the Avios from your flight, you would have an extra 2,000 or 4,000 Avios of credit to spend at duty free during your transit.

More to follow ….

As it happens, I will be in Doha in a couple of weeks to meet the Avios team.

I am hoping to get the chance to take a look at The Orchard and the new oneworld airport lounges, as well as trying out this new ‘use your Avios at duty free’ process. Keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, if you are passing through Doha in the coming weeks, remember that you now have the option of using your Avios in the duty free stores and restaurants.

You can learn more about earning and spending Avios at Hamad International on the Qatar Airways website site.

Comments (49)

  • Andrew. says:

    “You will get 0.65 cents per Avios redeemed, which is currently 0.53p.”

    Presumably the prices at the airport are tax free? So should multiply that value by 1.2 to compare buying, for example, a new Ipad in Argos with one in Doha?

    Doing that makes the value staggeringly close. 0.53p * 1.2 = 0.64p. Convert one Avios to Nectar to spend in Argos = 0.66p

    • Rob says:

      This is where your human emotion brain overtakes your economics brain, which I think is part of the Qatar strategy.

      The answer is No because you could pay cash and make the same saving.

    • John says:

      Apple prices are not the same everywhere. US may be cheaper. Australia is cheaper than many countries despite including 10% GST. And you are supposed to pay duty when bringing it to the UK, of course.

  • NorthernLass says:

    Is there a good guide to the shops and prices? I’ll be returning from DOH for the first time in late December and might need a few last minute Xmas presents!

  • Arch says:

    If we all agree that spending Avios at 0.53p/avios is poor value, then don’t be fooled that getting a 10% discount (or even 20%) is good value.

    At 1p/avios rule-of-thumb value, 100 avios is worth £1, right? But spending £1 (equivalent) at the airport will cost you 189 avios at 0.53p/avios value, so you are actually spending around 89% more by using you avios here. Even if you get a 20% status-discount in the DF shops (not the restaurants), you’d still be spending 151 avios/£1, therefore you are paying 51% more than if you redeemed your avios for 1p/avios value elsewhere. And if you can easily get better value at Sainsbury’s etc. as a floor value, why would you waste them here?

    • Rob says:

      You probably wouldn’t. As the article says, it’s not aimed at you though.

      On the other hand, if – say – KLM introduced this, you didn’t normally collect Flying Blue miles but you had a one-off flight with them, then I reckon you would like the idea of picking up some free stuff in the airport rather than sitting on a few thousand orphaned miles you’d never use.

      • Bob Bilby says:

        This to me is the fascinating bit of economics/sociology, Rob. If I was offered this use of avios in T5 at this rate I would baulk at it, but if I was offered the same at Tel Aviv on an El Al flight that I’ll never gain enough miles to redeem for flights I’d bite your arm off.

        Whether that would make me more likely to be “loyal” to the airline making this provision is definitely a matter for debate. One could argue it is more likely to reduce those orphaned miles that expire in their millions every day – at a cost to the organisation.

        • lumma says:

          When you used to get 100% of your miles for cheap economy tickets on BA (so around 1000 Avios per flight), I loved the fact that I could usually cash these in for around a tenner off my next flight.

          I didn’t attach any real valuation to the points (and why should I as I was earning them all from flying)

          • Arch says:

            Rob, it was actually your comment “Factor in the discount on top of the 0.65 cents per point redemption rate and it looks a lot more interesting” that got me thinking of the poor value regardless, and any casual traveller wouldn’t have the status, while any seasoned traveller is unlikely to waste the miles. But in general, point well made – not aimed at us and I can certainly see the benefit to the casual traveller of burning what would be orphaned miles before even earning them. And that possibility would certainly be of interest to many of us earning miles we can’t use elsewhere or won’t build a usable balance of.

            @Bob Bilby – I agree with your scenario too, and you raise a good point re orphaned miles no longer expiring and being a cost. But if that “cost” generates repeat business – even if only once – due to the casual traveller’s perceived benefit, then it has actually been a worthwhile investment, given that another flight purchased is worth far more than a handful of miles.

            @lumma – the sociology/psychology is interesting when considering how different people approach this game. You attach no value as “earning them all from flying”, yet I see points as just another currency I hold and have earned (I don’t “buy” my miles or my salary, I earn the latter one way or another too), and hence has value and it spent accordingly. I guess that’s what makes points a worthwhile program for companies – while some will be thrifty and spend where they see value, others will see bonus and blow accordingly. This makes the average redemption value very much stacked in the program’s favour and hence the program worth running.

  • YC says:

    Can you part pay with a small amount of avios to get the discount?

    • Rob says:

      I believe so although this was not actually in the small print – the same question crossed my mind. I will find out in a couple of weeks.

      • Arch says:

        Same crossed my mind too. If you hold membership or better yet, status, can trigger the discount, yet only waste a handful of avios on a purchase, then there are definite savings to be made.

  • Dev says:

    Presumably, you can transfer Avios across to Qatar Privilege Club in advance and spend in Doha whilst still crediting your flights to BA for the Tier Points?

    You’ll need a balance of Avios in advance and ignoring the actual value proposition.

    Similarly, if you earn Avios via work travel so less likely to be bothered about value.

    You could make some quality high end purchases for free? Watches, bags, designer gear, etc

  • GS says:

    Good afternoon
    Can anyone please confirm if BA companion voucher triggers if some of the spending is still pending on renewal day?The spend is met but some still pending,will the voucher still triggered even if transaction charged 1 day day after the renewal day?Amex not very clear and I can not remember or find out from my research

    • NorthernLass says:

      The spend has to clear before the renewal date to count but this is completely the wrong place to be asking about this!

  • Lady London says:

    What is it about these weird stuffed-animal type monster sculptures like the one in the first picture? It’s really offputting getting off a plane between two long flights in Doha and being confronted by that.

    • blenz101 says:

      I think you are in the minority, Most first time visitors can be seen taking photographs next to the Urs Fischer sculpture which has become iconic for the airport.

      It welcomes guests to Doha (well, their duty free!) with a playful childhood memory at scale. Never heard anybody refer to it as ‘a monster’ before let alone be put off.

      Does the waterfall at Changi conjure up images of drowning? Does the jungle at KUL make you think you will be attacked by a chimp?

  • George K says:

    This has been in place at DOH when Qmiles was the QR currency – I had accumulated a stack of miles from when QR wasn’t part of oneworld which were going to expire, and managed to clear out my balance in exchange for a considerable amount of bags of sweets and tat from duty free.

    • blenz101 says:

      I think the innovation here is awarding the miles in advance of your flight so you can spend them in the airport prior to departure. Also the airport wide option rather than just at the common owners duty free outlet.

      • George K says:

        You’re absolutely right – I should have been clearer that this was only a limited redemption option at the time!

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