Terrible: Qatar Airways Moves Their Loyalty Program Entirely Online

Qatar Airways has just announced a horrible “enhancement” (as they like to call it) to their Privileges Club loyalty program. As of March 2, 2018, all Qatar Airways Privileges Club services will be available online, and as of March 11, 2018, Qatar Airways will no longer be supporting account activities through ticketing offices, contact centers, or any other offline channels.

Not surprisingly, Qatar Airways twists this as a positive development:

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.

We have recently implemented a number of features and functionalities such as a new user friendly website, digital membership card, online redemption for hotel stays, earning miles with our online shopping portal Akruu and many more.

They note that as of March 2, 2018, you’ll be able to do things online that include booking award tickets, profile updates, excess baggage, refunds, nominating family members, cabin upgrades, award ticket date changes, and more. The catch is that most of those things are already possible online.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for loyalty programs offering the best technology possible so that members can self service their accounts. That’s fantastic. There are two major issues here.

The first is simply that not everyone is good with technology, and not everyone likes doing things online. I can’t personally make sense of it, but there are plenty of people who would rather pick up the phone than do everything themselves online. My dad can’t use a computer, so he wouldn’t be able to use the program.

But there’s a much bigger issue. If you’re going to bring your loyalty program online, make sure that all functions are actually possible online in an efficient way. Qatar Airways requires 96 hours to confirm award tickets and upgrades through their website. So rather than actually allowing direct online bookings, you’re basically submitting a request online that will be manually reviewed. Given how often award and upgrade availability changes, you can bet that a lot of people will be getting messages saying “sorry, your upgrade/award seat isn’t available anymore.”

Meanwhile it used to be that when booking by phone, you could confirm availability right away.

While I’m all for companies improving technology and bringing as many functions online as possible, eliminating the option to call excludes a lot of people. But the much worse thing is that Qatar Airways doesn’t actually have good technology here — it’s 2018, and requiring 96 hours to confirm an award ticket or upgrade (especially when it’s the only option) isn’t acceptable.

(Tip of the hat to beepee on FlyerTalk)

Comments

  1. No more QSuites for you Ben. At least Tiffany won’t be complaining about their nut ratios as she won’t get to fly.

  2. If one is computer illiterate, does this meant they can no longer be QR’s loyal frequent flyers? Doesn’t make sense as my old folks are dependent on the old school methodology.

  3. I’m Plat on QR (been so for 5 Years), redemptions are automatic on the website much like booking a revenue ticket. Upgrades on the other hand are not, I hope for 2 March this is done automatically via the website!

  4. @Melbourne

    It means they need to learn or take a class at a local community college. Honestly, by 2018, there is no excuse for not knowing how to use a computer (unless you’re over 100).

  5. Same-sex sexual activity is punished by up to 7 years in prison in Qatar.
    But of course Lucky focuses on what’s really important: a “horrible” change in the FF program.

    You’ve made your blog political. Now we want to know why prosecution of gays in the home country of Qatar Airways doesn’t matter.

  6. Very well written article Ben, agree with you Qatar online services are sub-par, and this new “enhancements” make their QRPC customer service as a whole miserable…

  7. @grrizzly – maybe if you weren’t a complete illiterate… you’d know this blog is about flying, not YMCA-politics…

  8. So many of the redemption flights are now classed at requiring x2 miles it comes across as deceitful advertising. They probably don’t want to listen to moaning from their clients. Not even a physical loyalty card for their Platinum Members and more. So much for ‘enhancements’.
    BTW, I think the word ‘enhancement’ is now a dirty word in marketing and should be banned.

  9. this is awesome! so they know lucky and tits the complaining bloggers are coming and they’ll make sure to deny your request.

  10. @grizly holy you’re a moron. Haha he made the blog political by talking about the NRA. It’s a talking point on a blog that’s about air travel. No wonder you guys are so easy to manipulate, someone mentions something you don’t like and you can’t handle it. Too many morons in our world.

    I don’t know how you put up with all these idiots Lucky.

  11. @Petter Niklas

    This blog is about joining the fascist mob demonizing a civil rights organization protecting our constitutional rights.

    Or you meant peddling sub-par credit card offers that give Lucky referral bonuses when better public offers are available?

  12. Oh look it’s the daily Qatar article.
    This time for a change not praising the unbelievable expensive $25/bottle Lanson champagne or the nuts.

  13. Oh, weird. A post about traveling and not Lucky’s far left political opinions. Something new and different.

  14. So have they quadrupled their email support team ? As it took bloody ages to get a response before and you’d usually need at least 4 emails to get them to realise what you were actually asking in the first email.

    This will be even more of a nightmare 🙁

  15. A monthly artical listing the routes and dates which have 1x QMiles biz redemptions available would be incredibly useful as they are few & far between.

  16. Hey lucky you know you’re doing something right when in the comments you’re simultaneously being called “Far left” and homophobic haha
    #balance

  17. I thought with Saudi Arabia/UAE/Bahrain and Egypt boycotting Qatar there woukd be more award space,looks like all Qatar award are 2×miles and you cant find a single economy seat London Doha when redeemong Avios??what tge point being in OW.

  18. This shift to online-only is essentially what LifeMiles currently does. You can get almost nothing done by calling; any request that can’t be handled on the web (and any request for assistance when their online booking system gives you an error, which is pretty much inevitable) requires you to email them and wait 1 to 7 days for a response. The good news is that their call center is easy to reach, with little waiting. But that’s probably because it takes an agent very little time to say “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that, please send an email.”

  19. Qatar sensibly stopped marketing themselves as “The World’s First Five Star Airline” some time ago and their tagline is now the less embarrassing and innocuous “Going Places Together”. Like Etihad (and Emirates to a certain degree), they are rapidly eroding their general product and cruising along on the strength of Lucky’s gushing Q Suites promotions, warm nuts and their premium offering. I allowed my elite Privilege Club membership to lapse some time ago as the programme was becoming less attractive or rewarding. When needing assistance in the past you were mailed in the following way :

    “Thank you very much for writing to Privilege Club. We shall start working on the request and a Service Request number will be forwarded to you for future reference.If your request is for a travel within the next 72 hrs, please visit your nearest Qatar Airways office or call our Contact center; they will be glad to assist you.”

    A more substantial reply would usually follow within a week or so but would normally be a generetic (often nonsensical) compilation of sentences that would totally fail to address the issue. I dread to imagine how their operation is going to manage with these new “enhanced online only member experiences” in which managing the Qatar Airways Privilege Account online “becomes ever more seamless”.

    Doha International Airport was the pits before Hamed International finally (after innumerable delays) opened it’s doors but still, according to Lucky, is still servicing many of it’s flights from remote stands.

    Today they emailed me with “Breathtaking Experiences. Extraordinary Offers. Savings of up to 35%”. Not only flights, companion offers (a favourite of theirs), double Qmiles and money off airport transfers but also 15% off lounge access and Al Maha services. I guess that things are getting pretty desperate over there.

  20. Rather than outright removed non-online redemption channels, won’t it make sense for them to at least offer these for a fee? At least, that’s the trend these days as with Singapore Airlines.

  21. Have booked online today two award tickets Adelaide-Manchester and return LHR-ADL in Y using Qmiles with immediate confirmation. All four sectors were exactly as we wanted. All good.

  22. I have been saving my airmiles and taking a number of trips to ensure that I have earned enough airmiles to upgrade from economy to business on my next trip. Having had the economy ticket booked by my employer, I logged on today to upgrade! After trying a number of times, I established that I couldn’t do this online! I must point out that I had previously checked that my ticket code and my route were valid for an upgrade. Anyway, I ended up phoning QA to determine the problem and after spending over 10 minutes waiting to speak to an agent, I was finally successful. The agent informed me that since 11 March, all upgrades now had to be requested and approved! So now I sit and wait to see whether my request will be approved! I think that’s pretty appalling that I’ve spent years building up my air miles only to wait for an approval! It’s pretty shocking that QR are moving the goal posts, especially as there’s nothing to indicate this on their website.

  23. confusing to say the least.i am trying to figure out what is going on in regards to privilege club membership for flights i have booked on qr for later this year.the travel agency consultant is busy and i do not know if they have a contact number to assist me out in australia.luckily i wrote down all contact details for everything but need copies of my booking references as well.maybe i should have paid the extra $400 and got me a fare that qualified me for qantas frequent flyer points on qatar.

  24. confusing to say the least.i have finally decided to cut my losses and switch any one world travel i do in the future to aadvantage.i get my points if i choose the cheapest fare classes on qatar and they are useful.i might only do the odd qantas,mas,cathay trip on the one world system but it is helpful to know i will get some use out of this.

  25. As a platinum member who has earned and used well in excess of a million miles the last few years, I can verify that the program has now become completely unusable.

    It has been particularly downhill the last two or more years – no award or upgrade slots available to most destinations other than at 2x Qmiles on schedules that a working a person could never use, and some destinations such as London offer no award or upgrade slots at all for business seats at any time.

    Now what was a good call centre is gone. Emails have not been responded to for weeks, telephone enquiries cannot be made, yet when I have done both email and telephone enquiries I have been told to do the other despite the change to ‘all on-line’. Qmiles for cancelled award bookings seem purposefully not to be recredited and there is now the endless runaround of uncontactables like all the other airlines.

    So I might as well just fly on other airlines when cheaper and more convenient now – which is most of the flights I take.

    I liked Qatar for their excellent product, but both their hardware and service are under the screws. Now, what I saw as the great benefit of their Privilege Club program no longer exists. This means miles are worthless because they can never be used, no-one can be contacted and ultimately one is completely ignored.

    As I said, that makes them no different to anyone else now. I’ll just use the cheapest and most convenient from now on and throw away all my loyalty cards.

  26. the miles or points earning system is a joke.only much use if one lives in qatar.i urge all of you who qualify for whatever BA,JAL,MAS,CATHAY PACIFIC,QANTAS or even American Airlines to name but a few one world members offer in terms of frequent flyer programs to sign up.you might not use them all the time but at least they can be used or donated to a worthy cause.

  27. They make it so complicated! I called to change the date of my ticket they told me you need to send a request online! I did! I received the reply after 3 days! And they replied “ Unfortunately, redemption seats are currently unavailable hence we are unable to process your request.“ and
    Asked me to write a new request !!!!!
    they change the status to RESOLVED!

    If they really what to improve it, do online chat !!! So i can get instant reply !!!!

  28. First time I needed to make an enquiry (to fix what appears to be an error on their part). After 10 minutes on a call to be told cannot help you unless you email. Emailed three times in the last two days. Automated response each time saying “We shall start working on the request and a Service Request number will be forwarded to you for future reference”. Hardly creates a feeling of recognition and reward. Wondering whether to just stick all my travel onto BA Exec Club.

  29. You would be better off getting your points elsewhere.i am only with Qantas because of the ANZ visa points but once I have paid that off in full my one world flying gets switched to aadvantage.i will use the qantas program still for Emirates but that is it.

  30. A complete crock of BS corporate spin
    I’d be a terrified to fly with them revenue or award if you can’t
    get through to someone in case of a problem or concern
    They might as well liquidate as far as I’m concerned as I will never be a customer
    That’s how TWA handled award requests right before they went out of business.
    Though there was no online in those days you had to mail in a request
    Perhaps they aren’t to far behind!
    Premium carrier lol Give me a break! Pathetic

  31. i agree with all of the above.do what i did if planning to fly qatar airways and get an aadvantage membership on the cheaper levels of economy fares.any problems they have a call centre in the country you are based in to assist usually 24/7 in many case.i called them up regarding qr cheaper flights in economy on what one earns points on and they were helpful.none of this run around and shit loads of emails nonsense.and above all someone who speaks english at the other end.

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