New Qatar Airways Booking Policy: Too Good To Be True?

Filed Under: Qatar

Update: Qatar Airways has modified their rebooking policy. See here for everything you need to know.

Yesterday I wrote about a Qatar Airways policy that seemed too good to be true, but it appears that this in fact the policy, so I wanted to update this post to reflect what we know.

Qatar Airways recently announced that they’ll serve 52 destinations by the end of May, and 80 destinations by the end of June. Obviously a lot of people still don’t want to travel, and even those who want to travel are apprehensive. What happens if your flight is cancelled? What happens if it’s not safe to travel? Are you going to be out-of-pocket for thousands of dollars?

That’s why I’m impressed by Qatar Airways’ new “Travel With Confidence” guarantee. We’ve seen all kinds of airlines introduce flexible booking options, though Qatar Airways’ new policy is in a different league, in my opinion.

Qatar Airways’ reassurance to passengers

Qatar Airways is giving passengers an impressive amount of flexibility if they book by September 30, 2020, for travel through December 31, 2020.

If you book a ticket on Qatar Airways and change your plans, you have the following options:

  • You can hold onto your ticket value for two years from the date of issuance, so you can travel at a later date
  • You can exchange your ticket for a future travel credit, and get a further 10% bonus
  • You can make unlimited changes to the travel dates and destinations free of charge; not just that, but you can change the origin to another city within the same country, or can change the destination to fly to anywhere within a 5,000 mile radius of your original destination
  • You can swap your ticket for Qmiles, with each USD worth of airfare getting you 100 Qmiles, so that’s a rate of one cent per mile
  • If your flight gets cancelled you can receive a cash refund

Qatar Airways has a new “Travel With Confidence” policy

Qatar Airways’ lucrative rebooking options

I have to give Qatar Airways credit for the sheer number of options they’re giving customers. Three in particular stand out.

First of all, being able to convert tickets into Qmiles is a cool option, as this is basically a way of buying Qmiles for a cent each. Personally I think Qatar Airways’ frequent flyer program is among the weakest oneworld programs, though some may still find it worthwhile to pick up miles for a cent each.

Second of all, it seems like you should be able to book a ticket and then immediately exchange it for a voucher worth 10% more. If you’re actually going to book a Qatar Airways ticket, you might as well book a cheaper ticket first and then pick up a 10% bonus (though in fairness there will be some hassle associated with all of this).

The third option is perhaps the most interesting, given how much flexibility they’re allowing to change your flight. You can change your destination by up to 5,000 miles and there’s no additional charge. At first I assumed that they were just waiving the change fee and that you’d have to pay the fare difference, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

What does this mean in practice?

  • You could book a ticket from Delhi to Doha to Hong Kong and then change it to a ticket from Delhi to Doha to Sydney at no cost, since Sydney is within 5,000 miles of Hong Kong
  • You could book a ticket from Doha to Athens and then change it to a ticket from Doha to New York at no cost, since New York is within 5,000 miles of Athens

That sounds too good to be true, eh?

Qatar Airways is letting people change destinations by up to 5,000 miles

Is there a catch to these options?

One has to wonder if there’s more to the story, if this is was a typo, or what. Interestingly the terms listed on the promotion page support this working as expected:

“Rebooking fees will be waived if reservations are amended before departure (for travel on/before 31 December 2020).

Rerouting is possible from the same origin within 5,000 miles internationally at no additional charge.”

But now there’s an added piece of proof that this policy is actually intended to work this way. Check out Qatar Airways’ new passenger guidelines, intended for travel agents, published on May 13, 2020. If you read this document then you’ll see:

  • The generous rebooking option applies not just to involuntary changes, but also to voluntary changes
  • It’s made very clear that when rebooking the airline will “waive difference in fare, taxes, fees, charges, surcharges, rebooking penalty”
  • It’s also made clear that passengers “may reroute within same country as original embarkation point and/or within 5,000 (five thousand) mile radius from original disembarkation (turnaround) point”

This is pretty cut and dry, there’s not really any question as to whether or not this is the rule. What’s less clear is:

  • If Qatar Airways intended for this rebooking policy to be so generous, and as a result if they could backtrack
  • How Qatar Airways phone agents will handle this in practice

Personally if booking a ticket I would be going through a savvy travel agent, as they should be able to rebook based on the guidelines given to travel agents.

An example of how generous this could be

Qatar Airways has ~$1,600 roundtrip business class fares from New York to Kiev via Doha.

You could book that fare, and then could change the destination to anywhere within 5,000 miles of Kiev.

To show that on a map, the lightly shaded area is what would be possible for rebooking:

As you can see this would allow you to rebook to most points in Europe, most points in Africa, most points in Asia, etc.

Just for fun, you could also book Muscat to Delhi via Doha roundtrip for $900, and change the destination from Delhi to Perth.

Bottom line

While most airlines are trying to get customers comfortable with the idea of booking flights again, I have to give Qatar Airways credit for their new policy.

They have a lot of different choices for customers to choose from, including converting tickets into miles at the rate of one cent per mile, and even changing your destination by up to 5,000 miles.


While this does seem too good to be true, I’m actually going to say that I think this could potentially be a really smart promotion. Many airlines are more or less writing off 2020, so if this gets people engaged and booking, it might not be a bad option.

Personally I’m going to skip this opportunity (at least for now) despite how generous it is, since travel does have to be completed by the end of 2020, and I’m just not very confident in global travel before the end of the year.

Comments
  1. I wouldnt assume they are waiving difference in fare without explicit written confirmation.

    Based on terms, you may be able to get 10% additional value by booking a flight, cancelling and rebooking with credit. I am not sure the 10% additional value requires them to have cancelled the flight.

  2. They really need cash and don’t think their planes will be full to any destinations in the next 2 years.

  3. Then again you can’t travel to the destinations as Singapore for example , doesn’t allow foreigners
    Nor does the US And Spain has a mandatory 14 day quarantine So who is planning on taking these flights as until restrictions are lifted , it’s impossible

  4. So let me get this straight . . . I can book a flight and Qatar can cancel it and give me a refund, but if my own plans or needs change I can’t get a refund but can only get a credit for Qatar scrip, or re-jigger my travel dates or airports? So Qatar can leave me high and dry if the circumstances suit it, but they keep my money if things change for me?

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong but that still sounds rather one sided to me.

  5. Are they still charging difference in fare? I assume they’re just waiving change fees. If they were also waiving difference in fare this could open them up to a lot of gaming.

  6. I think 5k is a typo, normal QR policy for disruption allows a change within 500 miles, which makes a lot more sense

  7. First reaction, find the T&C…

    Rebooking fees will be waived if reservations are amended before departure (for travel on/before 31 December 2020).
    Rerouting is possible from the same origin within 5,000 miles internationally at no additional charge

    These two lines seem most relevant to the ‘Unlimited Change’. Do the terms suggest only penalty waivers for change of date and designation? Only change of origin will be allowed free of penalty and fare difference?

  8. @lucky I’m with you. That Athens (swap for NYC) seems waaayy to good to be true. I can think of a few other examples that are kinda mind blowing but I’m scared to book bc again i keep saying “that can’t be true.”

  9. @Mak, don’t forget that QR also sells refundable tickets—in fact many of their business class fares, even the cheap ones, are fully refundable. (I was scheduled to fly KTM>DOH>BOS in June, and they refunded me without issue.) If you aren’t willing to take the risk, just buy a refundable fare.

  10. I say it once again: Once the EU is lifting internal border restrictions, a domino effect will happen and most other countries will also lift their border restrictions in a timely manner.

    No one wants to be left behind when tourism and the economy are restarting.

  11. 1. @Mak if your own plans change what right do you have to get a cash refund for a no refundable fare? What new world are you living in?

    2. Nowhere in the T&Cs does it imply that fare differences are waived. I think they are specifying the two conditions of change fee waiver: time of flight (before Dec 2020) as well as change of destination within 5000 miles.

  12. I have a reward flight scheduled for November 2020. I booked Qsuites through AA. You think this new booking policy will apply to Qatar Airways award flights booked via their One World partners?

  13. The first two rules are generous but makes sense. The third cannot possibly be what the terms seem to imply. It’s either a typo (500 rather than 5k miles) and/or a mistake in regards to the terms (e.g. only change fee is waived, but not fare difference).

    I would be happy to be proven wrong though.

  14. Just an FYI for travellers, I had a recent biz itinerary with Qatar which was cancelled a few days ago. After digging around to find a process / number to file for a refund, was instructed there is a 10 week processing period.

  15. And this is why businesses don’t enact customer friendly policies regularly. As soon as Qatar publishes these, there’s a blog post on how to exploit them by buying a ticket the passenger never intends to use to immediately exchange it for a 110% voucher or change the destination to a more expensive flight. Good faith dealing is a two-way street.

  16. Consider these absurd flights if Lucky’s assumptions are correct about the 5k rule:
    You could book Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh on a fifth freedom Qatar flight and then change the destination to Doha.
    You could book Muscat to Doha then change the destination to LHR.

    There’s no way the third rule means what is being interpreted by Lucky.

  17. yes the guidelines for TA clearly state 5,000 miles “change entire travel before 31dec 2020”

  18. Waive fare, taxes, fees, charges, surcharges, rebooking penalty.Tickets remain non-refundable

  19. SORRY , But I just do not trust al-Bakar enough in what you are reporting on your blog. I agree that Qatar have a great business class product, but having been burnt more than once in the past with QR non inflight cabin experiences , i.e. ground, reservations, supervisor, management issues, I have to take with ” a grain of salt ” any press etc etc statements from QR. Traveler be aware.

  20. @Mantas – exactly!
    My October MIA-SYD was canceled arbitrarily a few days ago. A pretty rare QSuites fare of $4200 RT. I watched GoogleFlights alerts for over two months to seize that dip. Currently, it’s back to $8-9000.
    Like you, I am severely ticked off, especially as they are waiting 4-6 weeks to process the refund.

  21. Well, it’s says 5,000 mile rebooking so no re ticketing? Then no price difference 😉

    But still 🙁 Qatar has parked A380s so my July RTW20 Birthday Extravaganza can’t even be rescheduled. Have I missed this PER – DOH – FRA Double 1st with 24+ hours at DOH 1st Lounge?? Horrors! 😉

    I’m trapped until a vaccine in any event due to my sick hubby:-(

  22. Can someone try it so we know?

    Especially those saying it cannot be.

    I don’t see people saying it will work with such confidence. Burden of proof is on the accuser.

    To me the 10% bonus sounded a lot more lucrative. Theoretically, one could book the cheapest possible ticket, and keep reissuing to unlimited value. Buy for £300, keep reissuing until it’s worth £30,000?

    Don’t forget it doesn’t cost Qatar anything extra to send you to another destination, there is only an opportunity cost of not filling the seat with a more expensive fare.

    I note one commenter mentioned that their flight got cancelled, this is probably due to a low revenue yield on that flight. Seeing as he mentioned getting a cheap fare it is likely that flight was not projecting as profitable.

    Put it this way, Qatar can cancel whichever flights don’t look profitable, so if a DOH-LHR flight is full of people who have booked DOH-MCT tickets and had them reissued DOH-LHR, then can just cancel that flight.

    It’s not a loss or risk to them at all if you consider that the ball in still in their court.

  23. @K4 I am a TA and this is clearly documented so you should just go ahead. I don’t see any bonanza of a $200 changing to a $10K one , but this could be feasible if the flight is busy or you book close in dates.

  24. @lucky Do you know if you can change to a destination within 5K miles AND change the date or does the date have to stay the same?

  25. @applesa

    Can you provide the exact documentation provided to TA. Especially any other restriction or limitations. Do you need to call in or can do it over GDS. Does it work with QR marketed but operated by partner?

  26. @K4
    “I note one commenter mentioned that their flight got cancelled, this is probably due to a low revenue yield on that flight. Seeing as he mentioned getting a cheap fare it is likely that flight was not projecting as profitable.”

    Mike here again – if you were referring to my post, sorry, I should have clarified that ALL Qatar flights out of MIA were canceled from last week until further notice. Passengers must now route via AA to DFW, BOS etc and change terminals.

    Personally I don’t want to fly domestic AA anywhere. Any time. The whole point of getting Qsuites point-to-point was for me to insulate myself as much as possible. Changing from domestic to int’l terminals in DFW or wherever increases physical contact uncomfortably for me.
    It also adds about 8-12 hours to the overall length of my trip (already 15 hours each leg).

  27. If this is really the case and Qatar sticks with their T&C , QR may be the only airline that wouldn’t be flying empty planes for the rest of 2020.

    By the way , we( frequent flyers) have a whatsapp groupchat created for error fares etc . If you are down , send me a whatsapp message and will let you know how you can join .

    +17788293305

    Horace – Vancouver BC

  28. So if I understand correctly, you can buy a ticket for December, then rebook it for Summer 2021?

  29. @Eskimo – its actualy on the QR website I tried to post it here but its “under review” the doc’s I have are more complete vs what the public sees but you get the idea

  30. @MikeA

    Hi, sorry yes it was your post, should have scrolled through and reminded myself.

    The fact they cancelled all flights from MIA, I guess means they didn’t cancel the flight due to low revenue, but I do feel its an option for them.

  31. Qatar are price gouging . On 29th May a Qatar economy flight one way from Hong Kong to Athens is Euro1064, Turkish is Euro 352- Three times the price .

  32. Hi, I have booked 2 way qatar airways ok in Jan 2020 from travels, in India. Mumbai to Atlanta came in the month of March. Ad per plan I am supposed to move on September 2020 Atlanta to Mumbai.

    I got a mail saying ticket which I hold id not valid and I need to approach by travel agent.

    My question is will travel agent will give me refund,,,? Still I am not able to contact Indian travel agent ( make my trip) from Atlanta.

    In case during September flight move normal will qatar airways will give me seat with out any additional charges?

    Can in get relocation Atlanta to Chennai?

    Pl share your views on the same. How to proceed.

  33. So let’s say i want to fly from doha to new york. Almost all of Europe is less than 5,000 miles from the east coast of the US so why wouldn’t I book the cheapest flight to any city in Europe on the cheapest date and then immediately change it to my preferred flight? Not in the spirit but seems valid.

    Emirates just added a similar policy with 2 major differences. Alternate destination must be in the same region and flight has to be disrupted in some way by COVID-19 before the flexibility kicks in.

  34. I’m not booking anything with Qatar Airways until they start offering x2 or x3 QPoints.

  35. Qatar’s offer & policies sound great on paper, but reality is faaaar different:
    My flight was cancelled by Qatar, giving me the option to cancel for full refund or voucher +10%.
    BUT none of that is online & automated. It took four weeks for them to acknowledge the receipt with a message to NOT contact them further, basically saying in a nice way to shut up and wait… For several more months to approve and process the refund.
    Good luck trying to change your flight according to the rules – the marketing sounds great, but Qatar had done NOTHING to operationalize any of it… It’s all manual.
    I’m unlikely to book with Qatar again anytime soon, regardless of whatever promises they make…
    Companies who have failed to invest into modern IT systems make for bad business partners, more so in the CoVid era…

  36. @Experienced Traveller

    What in the heck are you on about?

    Flights are priced from origin to destination, and always priced in the departure country’s currency.

    What you are saying makes 0 sense.

  37. I tried to apply those possible changes but was told that like Kevin stated above that the booked flight or airport has to be disrupted in some way by COVID-19 before the flexibility kicks in.
    The 5,000 miles radius was confirmed though.

  38. Confirmed no fare difference if changing to another destination and/or date, as long as all travel completed by 31 December 2020. If changing to 2021 then a fare difference would apply. (I asked QR)

  39. I booked my flight on Qatar Airways on Apr 28 from Lax-Dallas-Doh-Lahore. When I got to Dallas and tried to board on Qatar Airways for Doha. The staff didnt let me board. I asked them why and their reply was your country has stopped all incoming flights and we cannot take you. I was just devastated at Dallas airport. It was late night and I had to wait almost 12 hrs for my next flight back to my home Palm Springs.
    I filed complaint for my refund of ticket but hasnt got any answer from the QA.
    What do I do??

  40. Damn I have a Flight 15 Dec 20 and rtn on 5th Jan 21. Means I can’t change my destination without all the change, fare difference fees charged as per rules. I was hoping to fly into MIA and out of JFK instead of into/out of JFK.

  41. I was to travel on 3rd March to Australia Business class as a special treat. We checked if our home bound flight would be guaranteed if we flew out. Qatar could not guarantee a return flight so we were left with no option other than cancel which cost us £1580. Absolutely devastated to lose such an amount of money especially when you are on the Old age Pension and Qatar did not fly on the date we were to come home. We would have been stranded in Australia like so many others so I feel we made the correct decision an as a goodwill gesture in these abnormal times should refund our complete fare. We are nio different to now except it is later on in the pandemic.
    Qantas please reconsider and make the role the same as the current rule.

  42. Simple rule of thumb…when something sounds too good to be true…it usually is.

  43. Maybe it’s tru but at this day i am still waiting for voucher for my cansel flight on Mars 19.. so you will need good patience whit there service Office.

  44. I’m still waiting for a refund from a cancelled trip scheduled for 3.21.20 MIA-DOH-DEL-DOH-MIA about $2600. They owe me cash because the flight didn’t operate…

  45. The trouble is just that you can’t reach them. US call center opening hours are reduced and my call got disconnected after waiting for 30 minutes… When trying to make the change online the fare difference and change fee apply.

  46. I just got through on the US hotline wanting to change my dates of travel. I was told the guarantee applies only if the original flight was disrupted! This is a massive scam. I even read the passage to the agent on the phone and was basically told “no”. There is nothing you can do as a consumer except pay the fare difference. Buyer beware!

  47. @Gabriel “Confirmed no fare difference if changing to another destination and/or date, as long as all travel completed by 31 December 2020. If changing to 2021 then a fare difference would apply. (I asked QR)”

    -> Can you please post proof of this? They are charging the fare difference on the phone for simply changing the dates of travel!

  48. If Qatar are so good at customer care with these new rules!! Why haven’t they paid the refunds for the flights they have cancelled already and making people wait or even denying,they even cancelled flights without notification to customers and left them abroad stranded.Sort these customers out without delay and these will come back to them without having to offer other offers that might not happen.

  49. @Dave they told me this: “As long as the customer completes all travel (out and inbound) by 31 December 2020, it’s free – no fare differences will be charged. For all or part of the new travel date falls on/after 1 January 2021, fare rules apply.” Either you got a bad agent or something is getting confused internally there. Maybe try another call? If you’re told same again I’ll follow up with them.

  50. To all,

    I can confirm it’s true, since i just booked a Business ticket from PHL to KBP for $1638, and changed it to ORD – HKG for free

  51. @Ryan, Gabriel

    Thanks for the input. Which hotline did you use? Or which channel of information?

    Kind regards
    Dave

  52. Where are you still seeing the PHL/KBP still at $1638. I can’t seem to find it for under $2100.

  53. @Dave,

    Congrats! I just called the Qatar US hotline 877-777-2827

    @worldtraveler303

    I can still see PHL/KBP ticket around late Oct/ early Nov

  54. The only problem I see is that the policy is subject to change.
    Right now everyone is salivating because they can rebook to destinations like HKG or Australia. However that is no good if the government of those countries doesn’t allow you to enter. Australia in particular has hinted at not letting international travellers in for a while. That could mean getting stuck with a worthless ticket

  55. QR are cash strapped, so enticing people to book flights now at a lower fare brings in much needed liquidity. As brilliant as it may sound, I wonder if QR are really doing themselves any favour, as they, as a result of this new rebooking policy, may lose out on customers paying higher premium fares on certain routes along the way. Wonder how long this policy will work, before first changes will be made to the T&Cs.

  56. All flights have to taken by year end?? Could possibly book that $900 optometrist and VOLUNTARILY change your destination 5000 miles further 15 minutes later and rebook?!! That would be WILD!!!???

  57. @ Ben — I have a ticket previously booked for Dec 2020 LAX-DOH-BKK-DOH-LAX for about $2,500. I am right that I could cancel that and get a voucher for $2,750 good through Dec 2022, and then rebook as above for $1,600?

  58. Lifting a band to enter Doha for non Qatari need to be speed up. Only then you can see the flow of ticket booking by foreigners. Without that please don’t imagine to have numbers of passangers.

  59. What about the 2 yr extension? If u change ur destination, can u then then claim for the 2 yr extension?

  60. Lucky says: You can make unlimited changes to the travel dates and destinations free of charge; not just that, but you can change the origin to another city within the same country, or can change the destination to fly to anywhere within a 5,000 mile radius of your original destination

    Mystery question #598: you don’t state if anywhere within a 5,000 mile radius is subject to price difference.

  61. The problem with Qatar Airways is if you have to ring them, you are on hold forever and it costs a fortune. 2 phone calls and my bill could have paid for a separate flight

  62. NOT TRUE, Qatar Airways, have cancelled my familys orignal return flight and rebooking after 6 weeks, Qatar Airways told me they can’t rebook the tickets and I have to get a fresh rebook a new ticket so they can charge me extra. They want me to accept a travel voucher so will have to pay extra to return home.

  63. @Lucky – please can you recommend ways to find out the accurate mile radius between two airports? Thanks

  64. $1600 for a Q-SUITE seat is GREAT… But how can we find the BEST PRICE ITINERARY from CANADA: cities and dates??? I want to buy NOW?? Can we book on their website??

  65. Wow, that is GREAT, I think I’m booking right now… Thanks, I let you know when done!! Thanks. P.S. What tool did you use to do your search? I was lost when I started looking and NOTHING this good!!! YOUR Secret? You’re a PRO????

  66. @Alan, I use ITA Matrix (matrix.itasoftware.com). It can take a few rounds to do an exhaustive search as it can only search a month at a time and a 2,000 mile radius but you can get good results on the first search. You can get similar results with Google flights but ITA is much better for this type of search.

    Origin: YYZ, YVR, YUL
    Destination: All airports within 2,000 miles of Bangkok
    Advanced controls: QR+ in first box, -codeshare in second
    Dates: See calendar of lowest fares, 10/01/2020 and a month later, 5-9 night stay
    Adults: 2
    Cabin: Business class or higher
    Stops: No limit

  67. Qatar airways did this to lure people to book early so later they refuse to refund customers. At that point customers would not be able to file a charge back because most banks give you 60 days after transaction is made in order to dispute it. As you said , I too give it to them because they will take customer’s money early and wait until it is too late for the customers to dispute the transaction. Be careful

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