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)

  • Rob H not Rob says:

    Transiting though Doha to Perth next Weds via a Qatar airways business class ticket purchased via avios pts redemption (cheers Hfp)..

    Anyone clarify the lounge options in Heathrow & Doha?

    I’ve read some lounges restricti certain business tickets.

    Never straightforward eh.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Avios tickets will have the usual business class lounge access. This will be the premium lounge at LHR T4 and the Al Mourjan Business Lounge in DOH. You should also be able to access the frequent flyer lounges that are intended for those who have status but not a qualifying business ticket.

  • Andrew J says:

    “This really is an incredibly slick process.” – of course the reality might not be.

    • blenz101 says:

      No reason to think it wouldn’t be. Spending Emirates Skywards at DXB works well with staff able to pull up your balance in the duty free outlets by scanning your boarding pass and allowing instant redemptions.

      This just extends that concept airport wide and brings forward the issuing of points.

      • Andrew J says:

        I was really meaning it’s odd to refer to a process as slick which hasn’t been tested.

        • Save East Coast Rewards says:

          A bit like the amazing Krug serving Chelsea lounge in JFK where effectively AA/BA scammed the press by saying that this lounge was going to have the most amazing food and champagne menu and then a few days after the press had been invited quietly scrapped it.

          So it’s best to ignore the marketing department and press trips and see how things are in practice before describing things as amazing.

          • Andrew J says:

            Yes exactly – imagine if Which? wrote their reviews based on PR spin.

          • Rob says:

            As noted, I will be in Doha and will do a ‘how to’ guide to how it works. I’ve told Qatar that if they comp me the Avios I’ll give the duty free away in a HfP competition!

          • Ian M says:

            Wow I didn’t know about that, they dropped the Krug?!? Was that covered on H4Ps?

          • Save East Coast Rewards says:

            @Ian M – yes, looking at FlyerTalk opinions of the Chelsea lounge have been disappointing. The Krug disappearing within days of opening, lack of windows and nobody quite sure on the access requirements (BA’s website says GGL can get in when flying BA or AA but people have been turned away flying AA domestic). The food menu is also limited compared to what it was at launch.

            Going back on topic, seeing the process work on a trip where you’re invited by Qatar Airways still might not reflect reality. If it turns out not many people use this option there could be issues with staff just not having a clue what to do. I’ve encountered this with my Heathrow Rewards card at WH Smith. In Italy we have “Lotteria degli scontrini” which enters you in a free lottery if you scan your barcode before paying, but so many people just don’t know how to process it that I’ve given up on it.

        • Rob says:

          I think you’ve been indoctrinated into the BA way of IT!

          • Tom says:

            The QR app and website are both incredibly buggy, IT is really not QR’s strength and I would say BA’s IT is actually better overall (albeit the bar is very low!). I used to be Platinum but gave up on Privilege Club a few years back and now just credit everything to BA Executive Club which allows me to largely avoid dealing with QR’s infuriating back office and systems…

  • blenz101 says:

    The system does raise the question what happens if you offload yourself after being awarded the Avois and then spend them on luxury at the airport. I’m sure some would be tempted to buy a fully flex first class during a long layover, get the points and then offload themselves before continuing their planned itinerary. Negative balance on a throwaway account?

    If BA introduced such a system you can bet this would happen given people currently book tickets in this way just to go an sit in the lounge let alone have the chance to collect and spend Avios on physical goods in the process.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      If the points post so quickly and presumably if you spend they’re deducted instantly (otherwise you could spend your points multiple times in different shops) they could see you’ve already spent the points and perhaps they can ask for you to pay for the items before they refund your ticket.

      • Rob says:

        I discussed this with them. Basically it’s a cost they are willing to absorb to make the scheme work.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    When you say you’re going to meet the Avios team in Doha do you mean people who work for AGL/IAG loyalty/whatever it’s called or is it the Qatar Airways loyalty team?

    If it’s the former it’s be interesting to know their thoughts on the disaster that is the BA branded prepaid Mastercard. Earlier in January transactions were failing for a couple of days, then they started working but a few days later top ups stopped working. Now almost two weeks later they’re still not working. Other people on FlyerTalk reported that since they received their new cards (most original cards expired on 12/22) that contactless and Apple Pay weren’t working either, I don’t know if that’s still the case as I can’t top up.

    Yesterday BA sent out an email mentioning the issue with the top ups and they’re going to waive the monthly fee for a few months. I’ve never actually been charged the monthly fee. If I had I would have probably cancelled it because even before the issues this month the card was disappointing.

  • Amy C says:

    Hmmm I’m likely to be in Doha in a couple of weeks too. Might give it a whirl. Wonder if it excludes alcohol and cigarettes as so many things do.

  • John says:

    Is anybody else locked out of their BA-linked Qatar Privilege account (“account restricted, please call us”)? Calling hasn’t resolved anything….

  • Vit says:

    Urgh, bad timing again. Was getting a pair of 👢 from RL while transiting in DOH. Didn’t know about this. Can it be credited retrospectively on my way back? I still have receipt. 😅

  • Willmo says:

    Can you spend Avios on the airside hotel in DOH?

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