I love flying Qatar Airways, though their Privilege Club loyalty program is actively bad. It’s strange, because when it comes to the onboard experience Qatar Airways is an industry leader and incredibly customer focused.
I also think that the Gulf carriers would benefit more than just about any other airlines from having solid loyalty programs, given that they serve a lot of people beyond their home countries. I know a lot of people enjoy flying Gulf carriers, but don’t care much whether they fly Emirates, Etihad, or Qatar, so a good program could make a big difference.
However, Qatar Airways has made negative change after negative change to their Privilege Club program, ranging from massive award chart devaluations, to BS redemption fees on award tickets, to not granting lounge access when upgrading. Of the “big three” Gulf carriers, I’d say they have the worst program.
Last year the airline made a change that I found downright bizarre. As of March 2018, the airline eliminated phone support for their Privilege Club loyalty program, moving their program completely online.
Even more outrageous, at the time the airline spun this as an enhancement:
As part of our continued efforts to enhance your online experience with us, we have listened to your feedback and are introducing steps to make managing your Privilege Club account online ever more seamless.
I have an aversion to getting on the phone, but it’s simply not realistic to completely eliminate phone support for a loyalty program. This is especially true for a program like Privilege Club, which doesn’t even have a good website.
Well, it took a year, but the airline is now backtracking on this policy. Qatar Airways Privilege Club is reintroducing phone support as of April 2019.
Per an email to members:
We are always looking for ways to improve your experience with us and reward you for your trust in us. At Privilege Club, you are our top priority and your feedback is very important.
Based on your valuable feedback, we have been reintroducing our member services at our contact centres, to be fully rolled out in the month of April. Our agents will now be empowered to assist you with any of the following services:
- Redeeming award tickets on Qatar Airways and partner airlines
- Award upgrades
- Date change of award tickets
- Refunding award tickets and Qmiles
- Retro claims on Qatar Airways flights
With your convenience in mind, we will continue to improve our online functionality, and some account activities will remain exclusively online for your security. These include: nominating family members, profile updates, buying, gifting, and transferring Qmiles, excess baggage redemptions, and extending or revalidating your Qmiles.
Our team is striving to provide you with the premium service that you deserve. Expect further improvements throughout 2019.
We thank you very much for your loyalty and appreciate the time and effort you take to make Privilege Club better.
I can’t believe it took Qatar Airways this long to bring back phone support. I had received so many complaints from readers who were negatively impacted by this policy. Though perhaps that’s largely on the people who choose to participate in the program — given that Qatar Airways belongs to oneworld, I simply can’t think of any reason to bother crediting flights to that program.
(Tip of the hat to @adrieltjokro)