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It goes without saying that people are afraid of booking travel right now. We are unsure when to book or if it’s even “responsible” to book. And with so many unanswered questions airlines will continue to suffer the consequences.
I’ve said several times over the past few weeks that airlines will have to be creative to boost confidence and put passengers back in the seats.
Qatar Airway is taking on the challenge but is their new policy TOO GOOD (to be true)?
“TRAVEL WITH CONFIDENCE” POLICY
We’ve seen a handful of airlines implement flexible booking options but nothing really worth mentioning…until now!
On Wednesday, Qatar Airways announced their new “travel with confidence” policy to reassure passengers that “when you need to fly, you can rely on us” as they plainly outlined it on their website.
Per their website, when you book a ticket on the airline and change your plans, here are your options:
- You can hold on to your ticket value for 2 years from the date of issuance, thus allowing you to travel whenever you want
- You can change your travel date or destination free of charge, as often as you need, for travel until 31 December 2020. You can change your origin to another city within the same country or any other destination we fly to within a 5,000 mile radius of your original destination.
- You can exchange your ticket for Qmiles, with each USD worth of airfare getting you 100 Qmiles (valid for 3 years).
- You can exchange your ticket for a future travel credit, and get an additional 10% bonus
- You can rest assured that if your flight gets cancelled you can receive a cash refund to the original form of payment.
Let’s discuss these one-by-one…
Option #1: You can pay now and hold the ticket for two years. That’s cool.
Option #2: This is bananas!! We’ll discuss this more below.
Option #3: Qatar’s frequent flyer program in weak in my opinion so I, personally, wouldn’t pursue this option but for 1 cent per mile, I can see this being appealing to some.
Option #4: A 10% bonus is cool particularly if you’re planning to book a future flight on Qatar anyway but still doesn’t make me want to put my money on the line.
Option #5: A cancelled flight and I get my money back? Every airline is doing that (well, except United Airlines). Nothing to be excited about with this one. I’ll pass.
DIVING DEEP INTO OPTION #2
Let’s look at the frame work of Option #2.
- All travel has to be completed before 31 December 2020.
- I can change my dates as much as I want, as often as I want, and are free of charge.
- I can change my origin airport to another city in the same country OR; change my destination to anywhere within a 5,000 mile radius of the original destination.
After reading this announcement, two routes immediately came to mind…New York (JFK) to Kyiv (KBP) and Philadelphia (PHL) to Kiev (KBP). These are two well-known US “sweet spots” with roundtrip business class fares generally running around $1600.
Clearly, these are two niche flights but we’re only concerned about the price because remember we can change the destination to within 5,000 miles.
For simplicity, 5,000 miles = 4344 nautical miles. Don’t worry, there won’t be any more math in this post. Using GCmap.com, I can determine the 4344 nautical mile radius and change my destination to any airport found within the light blue section.
In other words, I could now fly from Philadelphia to the Maldives (via Doha) for ~$1600 roundtrip in business class.
Just a few more examples…Kigali (KGL), Seychelles (SEZ), Hong Kong (HKG), Bangkok (BKK), Seoul (ICN) …the possibilities are endless.
Here’s the truth about flying in business class, it’s often a lot cheaper if your origin is outside the US. The quoted prices departing the US are always insane. But let’s examine a few options outside the US.
One sweet spot that comes to mind is Oslo-Bangkok (via Doha). This route often goes on sale and I’ve seen this route as low as $1100.
But if you want to change your destination, hello Sydney!
It’s also worth noting that the Oslo (OSL) – Doha (DOH) segment is (or at least was) serviced with an A350 and the Doha (DOH) – Sydney (SYD) segment is (or at least was) serviced by the A380. You’ll get to experience two different products and possibly experience the A380 bar. Here’s my review of the A350.
Let’s take a look at Muscat to Delhi (via Doha) in business class…
…hello Australia (again)….
I have to give it to Qatar, this policy is EXTREMELY generous!!
It’s worth noting that this only applies for new tickets, or previously booked tickets issued for travel before the end of 2020. However, tickets have to be booked by 30 September 2020.
Although I love what Qatar Airways has done (and I LOOOOVE ME SOME QATAR AIRWAYS), I’m not sure if I’m willing to bite…yet.
Although I’m optimistic, my trepidation is in the fact that travel has to be completed by the end of the year. I’m not sure what travel will look like by the end of the year so I’m not willing to lay down money in advance.
But if this sounds good to you, go for it.
There are several data points where passengers bought tickets, called Qatar Airways customer support in the US (at 877-777-2827), and were easily able to change origin (i.e. Philadelphia to Los Angeles) AND destinations within minutes of buying the ticket.
Is anyone going to book something using Qatar Airways’ new flexible policy?