In the miles & points world, there are all kinds of rites of passage. Have you redeemed for an overwater villa in the Maldives? Have you visited the Lufthansa First Class Terminal? Have you showered on an Emirates A380? Have you flown Qatar Airways Qsuites?
Of those, redeeming for travel on Qatar Airways is probably the most widely useful and interesting redemption option. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at how to most efficiently redeem miles for travel on this popular Gulf carrier.
In this post:
Why you should care about redeeming on Qatar Airways
Let’s start with the very basics. Why should you even care about redeeming for business class travel on Qatar Airways? The way I view it, there are two main reasons this is valuable…
Qatar Airways has an amazing business class
Business class products really don’t get more well-rounded than Qatar Airways business class, between the seats, service, dine on demand concept, amazing food and beverage selection, entertainment, reasonably priced Wi-Fi, amenities, and more.
There’s not an airline that I’ve found to be as consistently high quality in business class as Qatar Airways, and I know that’s a sentiment shared by many.
Qatar Airways has a global route network
A great business class product is of course nice, but what’s most important is that it can take you to the places you actually want to go. Qatar Airways has a massive global route network.
The airline flies to a dozen destinations in the United States, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington. While all flights route through Doha, there are all kinds of amazing destinations you can access in one stop.
For the purposes of routing efficiently, you can’t beat flying Qatar Airways to places in the Middle East, India, and Africa, in particular.
The best programs for booking Qatar Airways business class
One of the tricks to maximizing points is to understand airline partnerships, because the airline you want to fly with and the airline you want to redeem points through often won’t be the same. Airline partnerships create some awesome arbitrage opportunities, and that’s especially true for travel on Qatar Airways.
What are the best ways to redeem for travel on Qatar Airways? Below are my favorites, roughly ranked…
One of my favorite uses of American miles, and also one of my all-around favorite award sweet spots, is redeeming AAdvantage miles for travel on Qatar Airways. While you can redeem for travel on Qatar Airways globally, my favorite one-way business class sweet spots are as follows:
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to the Middle East or India for 70,000 miles
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to Africa for 75,000 miles
Those are spectacular values, especially when you consider just how far you can travel. For example, you could fly from Chicago to Doha to Johannesburg for 75,000 miles in business class, which is an amazing value.
These awards can be booked directly on aa.com, and there are no fuel surcharges.
Alaska Mileage Plan
There are lots of great uses of Alaska miles, and one of those is redeeming for travel on Qatar Airways. You can only redeem for travel on Qatar Airways in select regions, with one-way business class pricing being as follows:
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to the Middle East or India for 85,000 miles
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to Africa for 120,000 miles
As you can tell, the pricing is higher than through American AAdvantage. One benefit of booking through Alaska Mileage Plan is that you’re allowed a free stopover, so if you’d like to spend a couple of nights (or more) in Doha, then this would be the better value. Otherwise I’d generally recommend booking through American AAdvantage, assuming you have balances with both programs.
These awards can be booked directly on alaskaair.com, and there are no fuel surcharges.
How do you earn Mileage Plan miles? Alaska often sells miles at a discount, and you can also rack up miles with the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card (review) and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review).
British Airways Executive Club & Qatar Airways Privilege Club
It might seem weird that I’m grouping British Airways Executive Club and Qatar Airways together, so let me explain:
- In May 2022, Qatar Airways adopted Avios as its rewards currency, which is the same currency used by British Airways, Iberia, etc.
- It’s possible to instantly transfer Avios for free between the various currencies, so you can move Avios all you’d like between British Airways Executive Club and Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- American AAdvantage and Alaska Mileage Plan don’t partner with major transferable points currencies, so this is a way to book Qatar Airways awards using flexible points
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club is transfer partners with Citi ThankYou, while British Airways Executive Club is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase Ultimate Rewards
You’ll largely find that award pricing and availability is aligned between the two programs, though at times there will be discrepancies. The beauty of Avios is that you can always compare prices between the two programs, and then transfer points to whichever program offers a better value.
While British Airways doesn’t publish its award pricing for Qatar Airways awards, you can find the Qatar Airways Avios calculator here. Regardless, you can ticket awards on either of the carrier’s websites.
Here are some of the one-way business class award redemption rates:
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to the Middle East for 70,000 Avios
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to India for 80,000 Avios
- Book Qatar Airways from the United States to much of Europe (via Doha) for 85,000 Avios
There are some mild fuel surcharges on these redemptions, though they’re hardly that high. The main selling point of these redemptions is the ability to book with transferable points currencies. Furthermore, we sometimes see transfer bonuses of 20-40% when transferring points from programs like Amex and Chase, which can get you an astonishingly good deal.
What is Qatar Airways award availability like?
It’s one thing to know the best award redemption values, though the biggest question is what award availability is like. After all, an award sweet spot is only worth so much if there’s no availability. So, what’s Qatar Airways business class award availability like?
As is the case with many airlines, it seems to vary significantly. Sometimes there’s not much availability at all for the entire schedule, while at other times the airline opens the floodgates of award availability, making it super easy to redeem.
Like many things in life, snagging Qatar Airways business class awards is all about timing, and I try to note on the blog when the airline has a lot of award availability.
Personally I think the easiest way to keep tabs on Qatar Airways availability is through aa.com, since the airline has a useful award calendar that lets you quickly search availability for months at a time. Specifically, I recommend searching availability for one nonstop route at a time.
For example, say you want to search availability from Washington to Doha for flights in October 2023. Just do a search as you usually would, and select the “Redeem miles” button.
When you get to the next page, click the “Calendar” button at the top right of the page.
Then you’ll be brought to a calendar that shows you availability for a month at a time. Just select “Nonstop only” and “Business / First,” and then you’ll see a calendar with all dates that are available. You can also toggle between months, and search an entire year within a minute or so.
You should find that availability matches with other programs, including Alaska Mileage Plan and British Airways Executive Club.
Qatar Airways offers one of the world’s best business class products, which can take you to points around the globe. Fortunately it’s also possible to book with miles, with some of the best redemption values out there.
Whether you have AAdvantage miles and want to travel 25+ hours in business class from the United States to Africa, or have transferable points currencies and can take advantage of a transfer bonus, the opportunities are endless.
If you’ve redeemed miles for Qatar Airways, what was your experience like?