• Alexis Barnekow

Looking to book a last minute Oneworld redemption using Qatar miles? Then you’re out of luck

All of us know how difficult it is to master the art of redeeming hard-earned miles. First, you stay loyal to an airline and collect miles so that you can treat yourself to a nice flight now and again. Then, of course, you want to book a flight and pay for it using miles.


Well, Qatar just made that even more difficult.


Starting March 11th (2018), the Qatar Support Desk no longer helps you book award flights over the phone. Here's why that makes it more difficult to make use of your Qmiles.


I just spent a few hours trying to book an award flight from Qatar, knowing that there were seats available for award booking, but not being able to book.


This is why:


A client of mine travels all over the planet, mostly in paid Business, and has stayed loyal to Qatar for a long time. So much that he currently has 323,000 award miles with Qatar Airways.


He wrote us to get help finding a flight from Stockholm to Tokyo on Saturday which is 4 days from today. Having a look at award flights as we always do, we found availability on a OneWorld flight with British Airways, Japan Airlines and Finnair. A nice flight over Heathrow and back over Helsinki, in Business Class, for 200,000 Qatar Qmiles.


Award bookings at Qatar used to be made over the phone but is now done by filling in a form online.


But booking isn't instant, it takes 48-72 hours for the booking team to get back to you over email. So why is that a problem?


The problem is that most award tickets are booked or changed just days before the planned flight. Since airlines prefer offering unsold seats as award availability (Lufthansa, for instance, release award availability in 1st class only 14 days before departure), it's fairly common to book or change award flights just days before departure.


My client is choosing between buying a seat in Business Class and spending Qmiles. But if he can't immediately know wether or not he'll be granted a seat for his miles on the flight, he can't take the chance of NOT booking a ticket for money.


And he can't wait, because paid tickets are almost never fully refundable, so he has no choice but to buy a paid ticket.


Effectively, Qatar just made it a whole lot more difficult to book award flights using hard-earned miles.


My recommendation? Get your miles someplace else.

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