Qatar Airways Modifies Generous Rebooking Policy

Filed Under: Qatar

This post is just a quick update on what has become a very popular opportunity.

I’ve written about Qatar Airways’ insanely generous rebooking policy, allowing you to change your destination on a ticket by up to 5,000 miles. Readers have had incredible success with this, and if you check out the comments sections of the previous posts you’ll see just what has been possible.

The promotion lasted in its current form for a few days, but Qatar Airways has now added some major restrictions to this. It’s still potentially a good opportunity, but there’s more risk.

Here’s the addition to the terms & conditions that people should know about:

Rerouting for voluntary purposes (i.e. where there has been no flight disruption) is possible 14 (fourteen) days after making the booking. New flights must be booked in the same booking class (RBD), be operated by Qatar Airways and can be changed within the same country of origin and/or within a 5,000 (five thousand) mile radius from the original destination booking. If the same booking class is not available, a fare and taxes difference may apply.

Rerouting is not possible free of charge if the original booking was on a fifth freedom route not touching Doha (such as PNH-SGN and vice versa; GRU-EZE and vice versa).

In other words:

  • You can now only voluntarily change your destination 14 days after making your booking; you can’t make a booking and call five minutes later to change your destination and save thousands of dollars
  • The same booking class needs to be available, so you now need to find alternative flights that have the same fare class available as what you originally booked; previously you could be rebooked as long as there was any availability, even if the fare class was much higher
  • You can’t reroute if you book a fifth freedom flight; for example, you can’t book Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City and reroute from Phnom Penh to Doha to Sydney

Frankly I don’t consider any of these conditions to necessarily be total deal breakers — you can still make a booking and make a change in 14 days. There should still be plenty of availability, and it shouldn’t be impossible to find your original fare class for most dates.

Of course this assumes that Qatar Airways doesn’t change the rules again, which isn’t implausible…

Bottom line

While this Qatar Airways promotion isn’t quite as generous as it previously was, it’s still ridiculously generous. You can voluntarily change your destination by up to 5,000 miles, but you just can’t do so within 14 days of when you made your booking.

  1. Fare class difference within the same cabin right?
    Even in the beginning you could book economy and rebook in business?
    Now if you book in R (lowest business) you can’t change to for example, C or J right?

  2. Thanks lucky. Thanks for being part of the reason this promotion landed 3 days. Some terrible people take advantage of goodwill gestures and ruin it for everyone. You communicated this in a manor which taught others to “beat” a system that was designed for those in need. Then you blame the airlines for doing terrible things to customers. Reason is they get taken advantage of anytime they try to do something nice.

  3. What happens if you purchased the ticket on May 15 when the May 13 guidelines were in place? I’m particularly interested in the provision that stated you may book into the lowest RBD (booking code) in your cabin. I booked an R fare knowing I could use I/D/C/J if required. I can void my travel agency issued ticket up until tomorrow. I consider this a deal breaker if they don’t keep the original terms. On a regular day R can be tough to get on QR. Now I would think they will keep it virtually impossible to obtain even pricing their lowest business fares in I class to make it difficult for people to make changes.

  4. Booked (R) fare class Friday night, was going to wait until Monday to change. But seems like Qatar is indeed zero’ingout all inventory in that class. What a bait and switch

  5. @Gary Leff

    Incorrect. The original terms doesn’t explicitly exclude 5th freedom.

    This can be found on some other blogs (L…..Lobby has the original verbatim).

  6. @Eskimo 5th freedom exclusion was in the terms several days ago, I wrote to mutliple people about this restriction Thursday and Friday, it was clear as day on the Qatar Airways public website for the offer. I should perhaps revise my statement, I do not know that it was in the ‘original’ terms but it’s definitely not new yesterday or today.

  7. Just called a few minutes ago and successfully changed a PHL-KBP booking to LAX-KUL without any pushback (and KUL is actually slightly more than 5000 miles from KBP). Booked into I class (originally R).

  8. The biggest change is that you can no longer book JFK/PHL-KVP. There are no longer any fares filed by QR for these routes, so the $1,600 sweet spot is gone. In addition to the new restrictions, you’d have to spend 2x that for a biz class route ex-US (at least I haven’t seen anything cheaper than ~$3k from just a few spot checks).

    It also looks like discounted booking class availability has been severely limited, especially considering their bookings should be very low.

    They’ve essentially killed this deal – or at least limited it to people who would normally spend for premium cabins and just need piece of mind. It sounds like this might have been their original intention, or at least realized that $1600 biz class bookings to most of their destinations was too rich after a flood of bookings.

  9. I was thinking about KUL… I don’t know how they decide on the distances. I was told LAX-PNH was too far

  10. @AG – what number? The US one is down and I tried the Qatar one from my work Teams and it said the number was out of service. Maybe I need to use Skype?

  11. Second @Darin’s comments.

    I’m not seeing any fares at least on Google Flights or QR’s website itself (note I didn’t do an exhaustive search). Seems like they pulled that fare to prevent cheap tickets ex-US to half the world?

  12. Called the Qatar number, someone picked up immediately. But they have zero’ed out all R fares and doesn’t seem possible to change the ticket to anything ex-US.

  13. Then will use the coming two weeks to remove all attractive fares from the system and adjust fare class availability. As a matter of fact they have already tripled or quadrupled some published fares over the weekend (well Sunday is working day in Doha) that were candidates for the best options, now killing them even for people who wanted to actually fly on those routes without rerouting. Eventually this may hurt them even more as the higher fares are not attractive and changing the T&Cs multiple times during the promotion plus playing game with blocking fare classes is not creating trust and encouraging bookings. Should have thought that through before the launch.

  14. As an update – got through to the Qatar number and the gentleman changed PHL-KBP to IAD-MLE no questions asked. Rebooked in R even though it didn’t show as available on EF. Booked my original ticket last night.

  15. The deal is still very generous, the question is what qatar airways will do about KBP fares. The flights still exist, they’ve just temporarily discontinued any US bookings. To anyone paying attention @Gary Leff, how will this situation resolve. Will they just keep the fares offline, or will they start offering them again at slightly less generous prices like in the 2000-2500 dollar range rather than 1600. Also has anyone tried to buy a KBP fare by phone, what do the agents say.

  16. We got off easy considering the assholes who called in 5 minutes later. Ya’ll could’ve waited a day at least.

  17. I love how people are referring to it as a deal! As if it’s a discounted fare or something!

  18. I am due to fly to HKG early July. If the 14-day quarantine rule still applies in HK by then, will I be entitled to cancel and ask for a refund? I know I can always change the dates to later in the year, and pray.
    Any answer would help me. Thanks.

  19. @Ryan – You just don’t get it.

    QR put these generous options out there in hopes people would speculatively buy. There was nothing unscrupulous about those that took advantage of this. This was not a mistake fare.

    QR needed money. QR has a lot of seats in business that will go out empty (by virtually all estimates) now through the end of the year. Planes are going out mostly empty. The vast majority of people that bought tickets were not going to buy on QR between now and the end of the year.

    What a great way to raise money. It is essentially free money. Maybe as much as $20-$30 million.

  20. @Tom Smith – yes they hoped people would speculatively buy because there was protection against COVID-19 induced restrictions affecting their travel. They did not plan for people to use it to buy a cut price ticket from C-D having booked a cheap ticket from A-B.

    Continues to amuse me that the same people who happily exploit a technicality in clear violation of spirit or intent will then be up in arms if an airline points out a technicality that impacts in reverse. If you want to do this, then accept that it cuts both ways and you might get burned by it someday. The notion that airlines are charities existing to fund our desires is ridiculous.

    So sure, by all means take advantage of this loophole. But don’t whine if an airline then devalues your miles with no notice – they also technically have a right to do so.

  21. Unfortunately my BKK flights got booked into R. I used random dates in November to set up the ticket. I’d caution anyone to plan well ahead for the holidays if you’re in this more restricted fare class. Maybe I’ll try search for dates where R isn’t available and find an agent not yet aware of the policy and try to get it bumped up to B or C.

  22. It was clear this was going to happen…

    An airline introduces a generous and market-leading policy meant to offer maximum flexibility to us travellers. People book 10 GRU-EZE tickets and try to change them to GRU-DOH-LAX because each ticket then gives them 640 tier points.

    The so-called “deal” is not dead because of the new restrictions but because all the cheap fares (PHL-KBP $1680, VIE-NRT $1700, HEL-DOH $1000) are gone.

  23. It’s like vultures squabbling over a carcass and then complaining bitterly when there’s nothing left. It’s unseemly and vulgar…

  24. I’ve been part of the error fare, 3x/1x fuel surcharge, etc world since the early 2000s, when booking engines were less sophisticated and you were happy to save one- or two-hundred dollars here or there. But this has just gotten so disgusting! Yes, it’s a great and potentially intended way for the airline to raise money incredibly cheap, incredibly quickly. Yes, they probably anticipated some abuse. No, it’s not sufficient for the author and especially the commenter to just say: So what, they get what they deserve. Someone who is a self proclaimed aviation enthusiast (I purposely don’t say professional because you’re not) that reports on and mooches off the airlines, should know better. It’s disgraceful and should and WILL be remembered by the airlines once things go back to some sort of normality, to question your integrity and not give you any lavish treatment any more. Really unprofessional for a page like this, in a time like this.

  25. I have been trying all day to book BOS-DPS 7/3-7/15 using Amex Travel and Chase Travel, no luck. It keeps saying the flight is no longer available once I hit “buy”. Is anyone else having this problem?

  26. “There was nothing unscrupulous about those that took advantage of this.”

    That is what we keep telling ourselves, at any rate…

  27. Of course Qatar wanted people to buy tickets so it can increase cash flow. That’s clear. But they did so by telling people they can book with confidence and offer maximum flexibility in case their plans change. They didn’t do so, with a view that people will find their cheapest fare and then change their flights within 24hours to something entirely different. If that was their aim, why would they not just launch a sale?
    What they have now made clear by pulling all cheap fares from many of their gateways, is that it was not intended to be used the way it has been.
    I think it’s great that those who managed to book, got a good outcome out of it. It was a legitimate change policy. But the updated rules (within only a couple of days) send out a strong message as to how that was intended. Those convincing themselves that Qatar intended the policy so they can book PHL-KBV and change it to LAX-SYD are just fooling themselves!

  28. I knew they would move the goal posts , and I said so on this blog a few days back, it was too good to be true .
    And they will change again if too many take advantage .
    Qatar are price gouging at present , I have gone off them

  29. The only thing is the DOT already scolded American carriers for not refunding. If QR goes back on American buyers, you can bet the DOT will have American consumer’s backs.

  30. @Ben- Just curious did you end up picking up one of these tickets? Also if QR does retract the tickets people were able to change, and if the pax is US based, what will be the remedy for us if they revert back to our Ukraine tickets? I am going to want a refund which I doubt they’ll offer.

    Therefore would the DOT be the best remedy? Have you spoken to anyone within QR to find out more on what upper management is thinking? In so far as how this change policy was implemented, or if they’re regretting it? Also what happens if travel spills into 2021?

    The large number of unknowns about these tickets, and the fact that it’s QR we’re dealing with has me uneasy.

  31. I am still trying to get a refund 3 months after applying. I have COPD and can’t fly according to my doctor. I now have to get my credit card company to try and get the money back. Qatar Airways is a nightmare.

  32. Hello,

    just successfully changed my PHL-KPB ticket to ATL-BKK.

    It took a while until someone picked up the phone but no questions asked and flight was changed. It does not show online on their homepage but for my November travel from Atlanta the route has Qsuites now. So all 4 of my legs are in QSuites.

  33. Just called to change the date on a flight I booked last Friday. Got denied and told to wait 14 days from the date of booking.. have a feeling they’re going to nerf it within the 14 days. I see that they’ve put prices up for the rest of the year

  34. Whether its QR or EK or EY etc etc lets just not forget the time tested so true maxim when you all pull out your cc to finalize the booking…… BUYER BEWARE, amen.

  35. I see they’ve completely removed all availability for the class I booked my ticket into for the rest of the year.. Suddenly, it’s impossible for me to change anything on my ticket (even the date) without paying 80% of the ticket cost. Crooks

  36. laughing hard at all those greedy spivs who tried to game this and now face getting their fingers burnt!

  37. @Moe I called the US number.

    I booked the ticket on Friday and had no problems changing it today.

  38. And this is why we can’t have nice things. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a loophole for traveling. I mean, that’s what 99% of the miles and points game is all about. It’s about squeezing every last drop of value out of mileage runs/promos/redemptions.

    The problem starts when folks advertise the “deals” for clicks and practically give step by step instructions to the masses on HOW to take advantage of customer friendly policies. Policies that were intended to restore confidence for those that were on the fence about travel given the virus, widespread cancellations, and airlines dissolving before our eyes. Of course these policies start to evaporate when the unintended fallout is that MANY people don’t act in good faith and take advantage in a way that wasn’t intended.

    Reminds me of when I used to work a low wage job out of high school. It didn’t matter what it was, but if something was free (food, drinks, trinkets, promo materials, etc.), a majority would swarm on it like locusts and leave hardly a scrap for anyone else. It’s such a bizarre mentality. “It’s free so I want it (even if I don’t) and I also care about only myself, so to hell with anyone else that may have a legitimate need/right to this”

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