Qatar Airways adopts Avios: 17 big questions answered — including how to find Qsuite availability
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Qatar Airways Privilege Club now uses Avios as its loyalty currency and you can transfer your Avios from British Airways Executive Club to Privilege Club in either direction.
The news opens up all sorts of great ways to use your Avios — here are your questions, answered.
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1. Can I transfer my Avios in both directions as often as I want?
Yes. Unlike transfers from Membership Rewards to airline and hotel loyalty programmes that are one-way only and cannot be reversed, you can transfer your Avios between Executive Club and Privilege Club as often as you want in either direction at a rate of 1:1.
2. Can you now redeem Avios for Qatar Airways operated flights?
You have been able to redeem Avios in your Executive Club for Qatar Airways operated flights for many years, as Qatar has been a fellow member of the oneworld alliance. The big change recently was that Qatar has adopted Avios as their own points currency (replacing Qmiles), so you now have the option of redeeming your Avios through Executive Club, or Privilege Club with the ability to easily transfer Avios between the two programmes at a 1:1 rate.
3. How do I know if my Qatar Airways flight has Qsuite?
Unfortunately, when you search for Avios redemption seats in Privilege Club (or Executive Club) it is not obvious whether your flight will be equipped with Qsuite or not.
The good news is that if you search for cash fares on the Qatar website, it will show which flights have Qsuite with a rose coloured ‘Q’ in the top right corner of the search result price.
If you have found an award seat available you can then check the same flight as a cash fare to confirm it will be Qsuite.
Otherwise check the seat map – a staggered 1-2-1 layout indicates Qsuites, a straight 1-2-1 layout is the older (but still very good) business class product. Some 777s and A330s have the even older 2-2-2 product that does not have direct aisle access.
Related: How to read an aircraft seat map
4. Can I move all my Avios to Qatar Airways Privilege Club?
Yes, and you can move them all back at the same 1:1 rate if you wish — that’s one of the great things about the new partnership. You won’t lose any Avios, or have them stuck in one account, unable to move them again.
5. How can I search for Qatar Airways award availability?
You can see Qatar Airways flights available through Executive Club, though if you have a complex itinerary that does not touch the United Kingdom, the Executive Club search function may not return the results you want. In this case, it is better to search through Privilege Club directly which will show more comprehensive Qatar operated flights.
6. I’m flying to Qatar for 16 hours next month. What is the best part of the Qsuite experience?
Having just done several long-haul flights in Qsuite, for me it is how tailored the flights are to each individual passenger. You will be offered your choice of welcome beverage from anything on the menu (no tray of pre-filled glasses shoved in your face), and you are encouraged to dine at any time you wish.
There are no trolleys rolling down the aisle – if you want to go to sleep straight away and then dine later it’s completely up to you.
Enjoy your flight and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, when you want it — the crew will be very happy to help.
7. How much is a London to Doha redemption?
If you’ve never tried Qatar Airways this is a good route to use your Avios on as the multiple daily flights mean it is relatively easy to find availability. You will need the following Avios for the same Qatar Airways operated flight, regardless of which programme you redeem through, per person, one-way:
- Economy is 21,500 Avios plus £168.36 in fees, taxes and surcharges; and
- Qsuite business class is 43,000 Avios plus £296.06 in fees, taxes and surcharges.
8. Can I use my Companion Voucher for Qatar Airways flights?
This is the most common question we have been asked about the new partnership.
The answer is unfortunately not — as always you can only redeem Companion Vouchers for British Airways operated flights.
9. Why has Qatar adopted Avios?
Good question. The airline has not revealed a reason but it may be because they are a major investor in International Airlines Group which owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling (among other airlines) who all use Avios. It’s a popular points currency that has already been tested by millions of travellers – this may have been attractive for an airline looking to revamp its loyalty programme.
10. What is the cheapest way to fly Qsuite with Avios?
In terms of lowest Avios, plus fees and taxes, if starting in the U.K. it would be a Europe to Doha business class redemption. One of the longest would be from Dublin (DUB) to Doha (DOH) which would still only be 43,000 Avios oneway but only £61 in total fees, taxes and surcharges — more than £200 cheaper than starting your journey in the U.K as you won’t be charged that pesky Air Passenger Duty.
11. How do I combine Avios with my old Qmiles?
Any Qmiles you earned before the Avios adoption was announced will now have been automatically converted to Avios at a rate of 1:1. You can check this in your Privilege Club account and then follow these instructions to combine your Avios with any other programmes you might have.
12. What’s the best way to use my Amex Membership Rewards points to book Qatar flights?
This will depend on the route you are looking to fly — for direct flights it may be the same Avios cost regardless of whether you redeem your Avios through Executive Club or Privilege Club. For connecting flights on Qatar Airways, it may be cheaper through Privilege Club — we have crunched some numbers here.
13. Do you get lounge access when you book a Qatar business class flight with Avios?
Absolutely. Redemption tickets have not been affected by Qatar’s unbundling of some business class revenue fares.
14. Does British Airways or Qatar Airways have a better product?
Qatar Airways does not have premium economy on any flights, and only has (proper) first class on a handful of routes, and only on their Airbus A380. As for economy and business class — the two classes both carriers operate — Qatar Airways has won numerous awards for both products.
Their Qsuite business class is widely regarded as the world’s best business class (and a key reason they do not offer first class on most of their routes). Having flown both Qatar Airways Qsuite and British Airways Club Suite in the past few months, both are great products but Qsuite is better — there is much more privacy with the higher walls. It’s like having your own tiny hotel room on the plane and if you are travelling with someone else you can make a private, and awesome double bed.
15. Do both programmes charge more for connecting flights than direct flights?
Yes. If you are looking to travel to the Middle East beyond Doha, redemptions through Privilege Club are particularly poor value, as Qatar market the short Doha to Middle East hops as ‘first’ class (not business), and price the second leg as much, making a London to Dubai (DXB) via Doha (DOH) redemption very pricey.
16. Do either programme charge booking fees?
Qatar Airways recently and without notice introduced a pesky booking fee which will make the total fees, taxes and surcharges for redemption booked through Privilege Club sightly higher. BA’s Executive Club has sky-high fees, taxes and surcharges already, but to their credit does not charge an additional booking fee like Privilege Club now does.
Where possible, check your desired routing through both programmes to see which offers the lowest total Avios, plus fees taxes and surcharges option. You can then move your Avios between the programmes to make sure you get the best redemption option.
17. Will I see the same redemption availability through both programmes?
For Qatar Airways operated flights, yes. Oneworld partner airlines flights should be the same through both programmes too.
As for British Airways operated flights, for everything beyond long-haul business class, the availability should be the same regardless of which programme you search through. Remember that last year British Airways promised additional Club World/Club Suite seats for newly earned Companion Voucher redemptions, so BA availability should be higher if you have one of these vouchers to redeem compared with if you were searching for the same flights through Privilege Club.
It’s great to see Qatar adopt Avios as it gives more options for British travellers to maximise their travel. While there is now some standardisation of redemption amounts, and fees, taxes and surcharges across both programmes, you may be able to make your Avios go further by choosing the right programme to redeem through.
The ability to transfer back and forth between Executive Club and Privilege Club at a 1:1 is fantastic and means there’s no risk of your Avios getting stuck in the wrong programme.
Featured image courtesy of Qatar Airways
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