Qatar Airways Privilege Club’s MASSIVE Award Chart Devaluation (Without Notice)

As much as I commend Qatar Airways for the onboard product they offer, just about everything else about the airline is a complete #&*%show. And that includes their loyalty program.

Qatar Airways has just introduced a massive devaluation to their award chart, and they provided exactly zero notice of these changes.

Several days ago I wrote about how Qatar Airways is adding a new booking fee to award tickets. Specifically, as of May 27, 2017, Privilege Club is adding a $25, $50, or $75 booking fee per one-way award ticket in economy, business, or first class. Given that you can exclusively book award tickets on their website, this is a very clear money grab.

As it turns out, this is only the beginning of negative Privilege Club changes. Qatar Airways said that they’d be making some changes to their points earning and redemption structure, but they didn’t actually provide any details of what those changes would look like. Instead they said we could see on May 27, when the changes go live.

Well, it’s May 27, and these changes are not pretty at all. A vast majority of redemption rates — in both economy and premium cabins — have gone up significantly. They didn’t give us a preview of what the changes would look like, and really they emphasized more that there would be changes to the number of points earned, rather than big changes to redemption rates.

Even now there’s not a “before and after” comparison of rates. Rather there’s the Qcalculator that shows the new redemption rates, but you can’t compare that to the old rates. Just to give a few examples:

  • A one-way economy award ticket from the US to Doha used to cost 35,000 miles, and now costs 50,750 miles
  • A one-way business class award ticket from the US to Doha used to cost 70,000 miles, and now costs 101,500 miles
  • A one-way business class award ticket from Frankfurt to Doha to Kuala Lumpur used to cost 75,000 miles, and now costs 125,500 miles
  • A one-way business class award ticket from Bangkok to Doha to New York used to cost 95,000 miles, and now costs 169,000 miles


Qatar Airways’ A350 business class

What a massive devaluation, especially when you consider that they’re adding on a redemption fee on top of that. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Interestingly Qatar Airways’ distance based partner award chart (which they actually publish) remains the same as before, meaning that at this point longhaul partner redemptions will almost always be less expensive than redeeming directly on Qatar Airways (which is some interesting logic):

Want to fly Frankfurt to Hong Kong roundtrip on Qatar Airways? That will cost you 251,000 miles roundtrip in business class. Meanwhile flying Cathay Pacific will cost you 170,000 miles.

Bottom line

As I said at the beginning of the post, I give Qatar Airways a lot of credit for their onboard product. They have the passenger experience down to a science to an extent I haven’t seen at any other airline. However, everything else about the airline seems like a huge mess, including this.

I know Qatar Airways is in a rough financial situation, but the solution isn’t to destroy the value in their loyalty program. The irony here is that they greatly increased redemption rates on their own flights, and at this point it’s cheaper to redeem on partner airlines. Similarly, there are lots of other loyalty programs Qatar Airways frequent flyers can credit to, so by encouraging that they’re losing a lot of loyalty certain passengers will feel towards them, not to mention they’ll have to pay partner programs for those miles, rather than award their own miles.

Let’s keep in mind that this is only their latest negative change to the loyalty program, as earlier this year they eliminated lounge access on tickets upgraded with miles, which is an unprecedented move.


Qatar Airways no longer offers lounge access on upgraded tickets

Also interesting is that the guy who ran Qatar’s loyalty program seems to have quit in March, and he now works for another travel brand, so that makes me wonder who was behind all of these changes.

Comments

  1. Just a word of caution that many programs have calculators that have no relation to the amounts you actually end up paying….for example Lufthansa
    So I would first wait to see people booking and how much they actually end up paying

  2. Any suggestions guys on how to quickly match from Platinum at Qatar to other Oneworld or Star Alliance program?

    Currently based in Europe but travelling very often. Stopped flying Qatar about 6 months ago given their lack of offers and continuous devaluations. Always felt my status better recognized while flying Cathay of Finnair than when flying QR

    Thanks

  3. As a Doha resident, that’s shocking! But that’s also why the last few years all my earned and redeemed miles go through AA!

  4. They attempted to deny me lounge access while travelling on an AA award business class ticket this week. Their comment both at an outstation and in Doha was that mileage tickets were not allowed access (we were not on the expected list at either location) and kept asking if I had upgraded since booking. Eventually they let me in.

  5. The best value for QR miles is to convert them into Accor points, and that’s a terrible value as well.

  6. Just checked today the latest “enhancement” regarding Qatar Airways Privilege Club, found out that my favorite redemption DPS-CDG doubled in Qmiles price (from 75k to 147k), notwithstanding the added per segment fee (100usd) and the absence of any reliable customer service.

    I think Qatar Airways just shot themselves ( in the head, not on the foot).

  7. That’s it for me with QR Privilige Club. I’m so glad I’ve redeemed my last Qmiles 2 months ago, 150k miles for BRU-CGK return in J. Now it costs 290k !!!!!!!

    I can understand their lack of deals considering their (assumed) financial situation, but insulting loyal customers like this is too much for me.

  8. This just sent off to Qatar:

    “Now I get why I couldn’t book this award last week. All the boxes ticked, but my award booking wouldn’t process and you lied to me by telling me it was a system error.

    You damn liars. Behind the scenes you were colluding to devalue the program. You thieving bastards.

    I‘m sick of you. I have just done my last QR flight. I am sickened by the fraud you bastards have just undertaken by devaluing the “Not So Privilege Club” program.

    You were ready to undertake the worst case of corporate fraud I have ever seen. You thieves. This fraud is against the law in the civilised parts of the world. Your management would be in jail.

    After all this, it seems Egypt, Saudia, Bahrain, Yemen got it right to blockade Qatar. They are not the only ones going to blockade you. Look at the backlash on the forums today. How dare you!

    And where is that gutless wonder who runs the FF program. Who is he? Where is he? What a piece of work he is! Let him be responsible to me and explain this away instead of hiding like a gutless wonder.

    Show this bloody angry email to the frauds that have run that company into the ground.

    How interesting this really is. The airline has lied for years about its profitability. And as soon as the agreement with the US has been reached demanding the airline show its books, it undertakes this fraud. New fees, new charges, program devaluation. Did you collude with the US carriers to also rip-off your passengers. Did they make you increase the costs for everything as part of the deal. I am betting they did, you gutless wonders.

    I hope the airline goes out of business and we never have to see it and its Middle Eastern bullyboy tactics again.

    I now regret ever going into business with a Middle-Eastrn airline. Friends warned me, but oh no I insisted, “Qatar are different”. But I was wrong. How dramatically wrong. Like your region, your people and your businesses, the civilized world cannot trust Qatar or the Middle East or anything to do with it. Look at the very way you treat people, especially the homosexuals and the women. My god. What was I thinking giving you my business.

    You damn thieving bastards. I’m done. Damn you.”

    Write your protest too, all senior management:

    membersvc@qmiles.com
    support@qatarairways.zendesk.com
    email@qr.qmiles.com
    sbennett@au.qatarairways.com
    ocosteira@us.qatarairways.com
    nshaikh@qatarairways.com.qa
    gsaurwein@us.qatarairways.com
    EAmin@qatarairways.com.qa ( No, this is not Idi Amin from Uganda ! )
    tell-us@qatarairways.com.qa
    https://twitter.com/qrsupport
    brian.ashby@agenda1789.com ( Head of Communications )
    Twitter: SpeedyVA

  9. @ chesterwilson

    Creepy profile. Its all modeling, mathematics and statistics instead of customer focus.
    I’m no longer surprised. They believe the world works as a spreadsheet.
    I have worked with these types and always tried to keep them on the straight path. Seems he needs a stronger boss to control him.

  10. An airline that should have never existed and has no point of existing, having never made a profit, being propped up by it’s tiny rich state to put their state on the map. That’s all it is.
    Oh and some little bling (which has almost all since evaporated) to put reviewers who get off on superficialities in a frenzy.
    The only ME airline with substance, whether one likes them or not, is Emirates. Not Etihad (almost dead already) or Qatar.

  11. I, like so many others, will be joining the exodus from this miserable programme. Qatar certainly know how to insult their customers and the latest surcharges and this further erosion of their loyalty programme is the final straw. Flying frequently on the same routes has also become tediously “same old, same old” boring with little variation or refreshment to menu choices and inconsistent and unpredictable service from an increasingly demoralised and demotivated cabin crew. I can’t help recalling “The Higher They Rise…The Harder They Fall” proverb and Qatar Airways has certainly got a lot more to worry about than Mohammed Bin Salman’s masterminded blockade and it’s subsequent consequences …

  12. To make “anhancement” after “enhancement” (in negative way) and to top ist with an unannounced MASSIVE devaluation, clearly show how QR honors it´s most loyal customers – they honor you NOT AT ALL!
    I hope the dissatisfaction of us, their loyal (in the past) customers, will let them feel the heat with leaving to other airlines.

  13. @ Robbo

    “You were ready to undertake the worst case of corporate fraud I have ever seen. You thieves. This fraud is against the law in the civilised parts of the world…”

    Blimey. If that’s the worst case you’ve ever seen, you really haven’t looked very hard. Does the name Enron ring any bells, for example?

    Mind you, I’m not sure anyone signing up to these FF programmes ever bothers to read the small print. If you did, you’d know it wasn’t “fraud” at all – merely you deciding to enter into an asymmetric contract with an airline because you’ve been distracted by the idea of a few free baubles. Why does no-one remember that if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably isn’t? Or that in capitalism you never get something for nothing?

    Anyway, I’m not sure the wrong-doing you perceived justifies the extraordinarily racist rant that then followed (anymore than Enron’s far greater crimes would justify wholesale racism against North American Christians – in fact, wasn’t Enron’s Chairman a Methodist lay preacher?).

    Still, if this sorry saga keeps racist ranters like you off Qatar’s planes, it means those of us who pay to travel on them can relax even more.

  14. Sign me up for the mass exodus movement from this miserable “Privilege Club” programme…… Qatar Airways certainly likes to throw the mush at their frequent flyer patrons and all these outrageous new “booking fee” surcharges and this further erosion of their already pitiful loyalty programme is the straw that breaks the camel’s (oryx ?) back.

    Apart from the Q Suite experience, the onboard product on Qatar has also been noticeably deteriorating over the last few years with tediously boring “same old, same old” menu choices and an obviously demoralised and demotivated cabin crew making a journey with Qatar nothing more than mediocre.

    MBS seems to have the iron will determination to continue the Gulf embargo but when Qatar continues to treat it’s loyal customers with such shameful contempt and disrespect then blockades from your neighbours is the least of your potential problems.

    As the normally quite vociferous Mr Al Bakr seems to be slowly retreating into the shadows, it’s impossible not to think of that “The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall” old adage.

  15. So I need a new OW program. My flights are mostly Asia, Europe, Middle East, South America.

    Any suggestions which program I should join now? Thanks

    To the Qatar guys: ‘I liked your flights so I thought I subscribe to your program eventhough it was not the best. Now after this I might as well forget you.’

  16. @ Lucky

    Why don’t you place that consent box more in sight. Every single time I miss to tick the box.
    Or alternatively make it an opt-out box instead.

  17. I would be very happy never to see another post on QR on OMAT. Or any of the other ME carriers. Maybe it’s time to stop giving them the free publicity?

  18. I have a hint for them if they want to survive…

    Start flying to places direct without going through Doha

    For instance, is Doha to DFW and Doha to Houston really so necessary?

    Take one of those flights and use it in LA to Sydney
    Or DFW/IAH to Europe

    All those East coast flights to Doha? Really?
    Move one US to Europe direct, then onwards to Doha

    Repeat with Europe

    I know you were trying to use QR to make Doha something but it won’t work
    Might as well save your airline

  19. Actually it may be ME1 soon – EY is in an even worse financial situation than QR. None of them are going to become insolvent overnight due the government backing they all enjoy, but I can see a situation where in the next couple of years EY is forced into becoming part of EK and QR has to massively scale back operations and abandon its global ambitions.

    I am QR Plat and I certainly won’t be sticking around to see what harebrained scheme QR come up with next to scare away yet more of their dwindling band of loyal customers. There are already A380s to BKK running half empty. I have taken three flights this year where I have been the only F passenger and four where I’ve been one of two. The blockade is tragic but QR is doing itself no favours.

  20. Instead to give the empty seat to the frequent flyer at normal X1 miles, they blocked it or made it X2 (double miles). Very hard to find award with X1 and spend the miles.

    Now they almost doubled the miles necessary and still keep the X2 system in high season/week end + Friday and some other day for unknown reason !
    Planes will be just MORE empty and frequent flyer will be no more interested by QR.
    So QR is just digging his own hole.

    In the same time QR invested hundred of millions for Air Italy ? It’s laughable/ridiculous.
    Somebody smarter need to manage this company.

  21. @Chris
    “Planes will be just MORE empty and frequent flyer will be no more interested by QR.”

    I’m genuinely mystified by your comment. I’m a pretty frequent flyer (roughly once a month, mostly long-haul, J class paid by my employee). And I couldn’t give a stuff about QR’s FF programme. Their J product is now so good that they get most of my business eastwards out of LHR (I’m OWE, through BAEC). Why would that change, because members of their FF programme have had a devaluation?

    Though as someone who likes tranquility, the emptier the plane, the better (the lounge at Doha has been delightfully quieter on my last few transfers). For about an hour earlier this month on a long layover I swear I could see only two other passengers (though at other times it got very full). I’d assumed that was boycott-related issues / reduction in local traffic.

    I’m sitting on a mountain of Avios which I guess could be “devalued” at any time. Use ’em or lose em.

  22. As you (the nice Paul) said, your company does pay for your flights. But here are a lot of people complaining, who did pay themselves for J or even F and they were taken their promised benefits.
    And I can tell you, I definitely will change the airline, because I do not give my money to a company who fools me. And yes, QR inflight product is good, but others are not far behind, if at all (not considering QSuite, which is not available on my routes)…
    Try to see it from this perspective.

  23. @Traveller999

    I do see your perspective. The issue I have with what you wrote is this:

    “they were taken their promised benefits”

    There was a contract between them and Qatar, and the terms said Qatar could devalue at at any time. And then they did. Given all the other devaluations that Lucky writes about every few minutes (it feels like), why would anyone expect QR to behave any differently?

  24. @ The nice Paul

    Yes in concern to “the contract” you do have right, even QR tends to not follow their own contract sometimes…
    However, I personally, never would act to a customer in that way, whatever the contract says. Especially not, when I want to keep him – or when I need him and this seems to be the case – losts, empty planes …
    When I do a contract, I trust that my client will treat me fair as my client can trust that I will treat him fair. This now is a way of, treating the contract partner fair (in my opinion), that’s why I am complaining.
    But yes, QR did not breach the “contract”, just misused it in a very bad way

  25. I had a change of travel plan few months ago. Was left with lots of Qmiles. Had to transfer in even more Thank You Points to fly from SEZ to LHR (original plan was Nairobi to Athens). I wish I had never transferred Thank You Points to Qmiles as it would had been cheaper to use Avios to fly from SEZ to LHR and be able to book first class instead of business class. The tale of change travel plans…sigh.

  26. Earlier this year I bought a QR r/t CMB-PHL. This purchase entered me into their Festival of Travel competition. I won one of 10 grand prizes, 100,000 QR miles. Yeah me! But part of the deal with winning I had to have a QR FF account (I opened one) and that number had to be placed on my booking. I had planned to credit the flights to AA to help requalify for AA EXP status. When checking in for the flights I changed the award account to AA but QR still credited the flights to QR Privilege Club. I got fewer award miles than if I had credited to AA. I was able to use 75k of the miles for a o/w award India to JFK in Qsuites. But am now stuck with 40k+ QR miles that have been devalued and I’m 23k short of AA EXP. Winner? Not so much.

  27. At least much more a winner than someone who sits now on 300k+ Miles Earned without any promotion – someone is me…

  28. Just tired to redeem a partner CX flight from LHR-HKG. Originally they said no availabilty on the dates I selected, so I said to them what about any dates during the month of October….

    And they still said none…

    So like many of you here, my QR Platinum will now be shredded and back to Marco Polo for me.

  29. I just realized this myself. I wanted to redeem CDG-CGK one way. It was usually 75000 miles. I can’t believe my eyes when I saw 145000 miles. I thought my eyes are deceiving me or there’s some system glitch. But this article confirms this!

    I used to be QR Platinum for several years and have used the mileage and Qpoints for many awards upgrade and redemptions.

    Thank God I switched to JAL last year but I still have 114000 miles on my account. Now I can’t even use them for a one way redemption. I’m thinking of using them as an upgrade though.

    Qatar’s agent in Jakarta botched my mileage redemption this year, which makes me and my husband lose 145000 miles. Now this! But OMG! They really can’t treasure their frequent flyer. Good riddance of the Privilege Club!

  30. That’s it!

    After years of being a loyal QR customer including six family members, I am definitely not going to swallow this bitter pill. QR should immediately reconsider their PR. It’s mess. You can’t deal with loyal customers in such a rude way.

    If anyone has suggestions for better options: Europe-Asia, most welcome.

  31. Qatar must surely now be realising the consequences of their fool hardy and ill advised decisions as their “Privilege” passengers now start boarding at an alternative departure gate.

  32. Their mileage program sucks. The only airline left where you can’t see award inventory for partner carriers online. Say what you want about United, but their Mileage Plus program is quite good. The increase in miles needed for an award booking — given their already paltry offerings of award seats — is just insulting.

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