A Qatar Airways Privilege Club Award Sweet Spot

A Qatar Airways Privilege Club Award Sweet Spot

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Qatar Airways offers the world’s best business class product, with its amazing Qsuites. There are lots of partner airline frequent flyer programs that allow you to redeem miles for travel on Qatar Airways, and in very few cases do I actually book through Qatar Airways’ own Privilege Club program. Well, I just stumbled upon what I’d consider to be a pretty awesome sweet spot for the program.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club has improved considerably

Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club program has improved significantly in recent months, though I think the program still has so much more potential. Privilege Club recently lowered award redemption rates and also eliminated “junk” fees on award tickets, all of which is awesome. Privilege Club finally has somewhat competitive redemption rates for travel on Qatar Airways.

I’m hopeful we’ll see more positive program changes in the coming months and years. Despite the significant improvements, though, there still aren’t many cases where I find that it’s worth booking through Qatar Airways Privilege Club over American AAdvantage, even when trying to redeem for Qatar Airways Qsuites:

  • Qatar Airways makes all the same award space available to partner airlines as to members of the Privilege Club program
  • In almost all cases business class redemption rates are the same or cheaper through American AAdvantage than through Qatar Airways Privilege Club

Qatar Airways’ business class is excellent

Fly from the US to Europe on Qatar Airways

I’ve finally come across a practical situation where Qatar Airways Privilege Club offers significantly better value than American AAdvantage. Specifically, if you’re looking to travel between the US and Europe, Qatar Airways Privilege Club has quite attractive award pricing.

Why? Because Qatar Airways Privilege Club will let you travel from the US to Europe via Doha on a single award, while American AAdvantage would require two awards for that.

If you redeemed American AAdvantage miles from the US to Europe via Doha you’d pay 112,500 miles one-way in business class, since you’d have to book two separate awards. You’d pay:

  • 70,000 miles for business class from the US to Doha
  • 42,500 miles for business class from Doha to Europe

Meanwhile you can redeem 85,000-90,000 Privilege Club miles for a one-way award from the US to Europe (you can find Qatar Airways’ award calculator here, as there’s no award chart).

Now, you could take this to the extreme, and redeem 90,000 Privilege Club miles for a one-way business class ticket from Los Angeles to Doha to London.

That represents a huge detour, so would only be for someone who truly loves flying.

I’d say there are other more practical uses of this. For example, say you want to fly from Chicago to Mykonos. Rather than flying British Airways through London, you could fly from Chicago to Doha to Mykonos, and get a business class flat bed the entire way for 85,000 Privilege Club miles.

This is also useful for parts of Europe that aren’t as easily accessible from other major European hubs. For example, you could redeem 85,000 Privilege Club miles for one-way business class from New York to Doha to Tbilisi, Georgia.

Or you could redeem 85,000 Privilege Club miles for one-way business class from Houston to Doha to Yerevan, Armenia.

This certainly won’t be for everyone — if you’re looking for the fastest route, this isn’t the way to go. However, in many cases this will be the most comfortable way to fly. Also note that Qatar Airways Privilege Club doesn’t allow stopovers on these itineraries, so you’d either be connecting right away, or would spend just one night in Doha (and keep in mind that Doha is closed to most foreigners right now). Furthermore, any positioning flights to gateways on partner airlines would cost extra.

With the exception of the Los Angeles to Doha to London itinerary above, I’d gladly take any of the other routings over your typical routing via Frankfurt or London or Paris.

If you enjoy Qsuites, this could be a fun way to travel

How do you earn Qatar Airways Privilege Club miles?

Qatar Airways Privilege Club is transfer partners with Citi ThankYou, and points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. If you want to maximize the Citi ThankYou points you can earn, you can’t beat the Citi Premier® Card (review). The $95 annual fee card has a welcome bonus of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of card membership, and it offers 3x points on dining, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel, and hotels.

If you really want to maximize your points, it makes sense to pick up a no annual fee card complement:

Personally, I think it’s hard to beat the combination of the Citi Premier and Citi Double Cash, as you’ll earn 3x points in five categories, and then 2x points on all other purchases.

There are lots of ways to earn Citi ThankYou points

Bottom line

I like calling out award chart sweet spots as I find them. While most people agree that flying Qatar Airways is great, there are lots of ways to redeem miles for travel on Qatar Airways that don’t include Privilege Club.

One fantastic Qatar Airways Privilege Club sweet spot is being able to redeem miles for travel between the US and Europe via Doha. For 85,000-90,000 miles one-way in business class, you can travel to almost any of Qatar Airways’ destinations in Europe.

While this probably isn’t that useful if your final destination is London, Paris, or Frankfurt, this could really come in handy if you’re considering going somewhere like Mykonos, Tbilisi, or Yerevan.

Could you see yourself redeeming Privilege Club miles for travel between the US and Europe?

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  1. eponymous coward

    Some of those routings have interesting definitions of "most comfortable way to fly", like 14 hour airport transits during COVID entry restrictions that don't allow tourists to enter Qatar. I was already seeing the DOH transit hotel completely booked up for some dates in May.

    I'm not sure I'd be a huge fan of a long transit as a US citizen trying to get back to the USA when you need to present COVID test results that expire at 72 hours after taking the test.

  2. Davistev

    Finnius Fog would love this award routing.

  3. Andrew

    Yea, this is perfect for a honeymoon or romantic vacation. The lounge and Qsuites are great for two people. If you’re with a family or by yourself, it’s probably not worth it.

  4. Billiken

    @ Neil, call me shallow! 2 legs on QR and time in the lounge? I'm in!

  5. Deb Belcore

    Can you pay to add a stop over in Doha before continuing on to final destination?

  6. Neil Gibson

    5 star Airline or not, you can fly JFK to London in 6 hours whereas with Qatar you show total time 31 hours. Would you prefer a aircraft bed over your own bed and your own surroundings. Basically you are losing 24 hours of your life to travel in a aircraft, you must have a very shallow outlook on life if you go this way. There are other airlines that fly between USA and Europe and they are not all 2 Star LCC as claimed. FYI Doha is not a inspiring city.

  7. STEFFL

    @Fernsie
    you keep forgetting, this airline SURE did deserve there 5* rating even on there smaller aircrafts!
    As already told, A320's of QR DO have lie flat beds in there fleet!
    Luxurious 79-inch long, 21-inch wide 180° lie-flat bed, 12 seats in a 2-2 configuration
    (on there flight QR 311 DOH-JMK they DO fly there A320 with 12C+120Y seats = CONFIGURATION-
    320 J 12 Y 120 = totally lie flat...

    @Fernsie
    you keep forgetting, this airline SURE did deserve there 5* rating even on there smaller aircrafts!
    As already told, A320's of QR DO have lie flat beds in there fleet!
    Luxurious 79-inch long, 21-inch wide 180° lie-flat bed, 12 seats in a 2-2 configuration
    (on there flight QR 311 DOH-JMK they DO fly there A320 with 12C+120Y seats = CONFIGURATION-
    320 J 12 Y 120 = totally lie flat seats in Business!)
    May17 - Septemper27 2021, it's the A320 with 12C lie flat seats 3x per week!

    @Ben
    So i guess we will see you guys this summer in Mykonos?
    DURCHSCHAUT ;-)

  8. Max

    @Fernsie
    Most Qatari A320s have fully lie-flat seats (Collins Diamond). After all it's not a third-world airline like BA, Air France, Lufthansa, Delta or United.

  9. Ryan

    Sounds terrible. No one in the real world would ever do that

  10. Fernsie

    Lucky-The routing ORD-Doha-Mykonos would not be entirely on a flat bed. The 4 1/2 hour flight from Doha to Mykonos is on an A320 which is with recliner seats. Probably still worth it for some people but not completely comfortable.

  11. Lukas

    Great for those of us on the east coast who could use sleep on the way to Europe :)

  12. DLPTATL

    @Lucky - How accurate is their website? I just looked up Georgia (ATL) to Georgia (TBS) and it shows that I could book in First Class. Even pre-pandemic I don't think either city was served by the A380 with First Class.

    Any word on what will happen with the Al-Safwa Lounge in DOH if they retire their A380s and with it their First Class cabins?

    Thanks for the article, for travelling to the Med...

    @Lucky - How accurate is their website? I just looked up Georgia (ATL) to Georgia (TBS) and it shows that I could book in First Class. Even pre-pandemic I don't think either city was served by the A380 with First Class.

    Any word on what will happen with the Al-Safwa Lounge in DOH if they retire their A380s and with it their First Class cabins?

    Thanks for the article, for travelling to the Med it isn't too inconvenient to route through Doha and the longer red-eye going eastbound makes for a better night's sleep.

  13. profan

    Are positioning flights (on aa or alaska?) to a qr gateway included in the award?

    1. Ben

      @ profan -- Nope, pricing is totally different (and not good) when partner airlines are included.

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eponymous coward

Some of those routings have interesting definitions of "most comfortable way to fly", like 14 hour airport transits during COVID entry restrictions that don't allow tourists to enter Qatar. I was already seeing the DOH transit hotel completely booked up for some dates in May. I'm not sure I'd be a huge fan of a long transit as a US citizen trying to get back to the USA when you need to present COVID test results that expire at 72 hours after taking the test.

Davistev

Finnius Fog would love this award routing.

Andrew

Yea, this is perfect for a honeymoon or romantic vacation. The lounge and Qsuites are great for two people. If you’re with a family or by yourself, it’s probably not worth it.

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