Qatar Airways has an exciting development for Canadian travellers to look forward to once international flying starts back up again: the airline will launch a new thrice-weekly route between Toronto and Doha, complementing its existing four-times-weekly service to Montreal.
This should open up quite a few new mileage redemption options via Avios, Asia Miles, and American AAdvantage as well, and give more Canadians the chance to sample Qatar Airways’s excellent business class onboard product – widely considered one of the best in the world – when travelling around the globe.
Qatar Airways Will Fly Toronto–Doha
Qatar Airways’s new route will launch almost immediately as of July 4, 2020, linking the capital of the State of Qatar with Canada’s largest city. The route will be operated three times per week using an Airbus A350-900, using the following schedule:
QR767 Doha to Toronto, departing 8:30am and arriving 3pm, Sa/Tu/Th
QR768 Toronto to Doha, departing 8:50pm and arriving 4:15pm, Sa/Tu/Th
This schedule is largely in line with that of the existing Montreal flight (QR763/764), which is also an overnight eastbound flight and a daytime westbound flight with roughly the same flight times.
The flight times generally optimized for connections in Doha to other destinations, but if you have a long layover, then you can take advantage of Qatar Airways’s complimentary stopover perks or indulge in the Al Safwa Lounge by purchasing access from a business class ticket.
Only the July 2020 flights have been loaded so far, and I’d expect the remaining flights in the schedule to be loaded relatively soon.
Note that while some of Qatar Airways’s A350-900 aircraft have been reconfigured with their famous Qsuites onboard product (which I’d consider the world’s best business class), it’s my understanding that the Toronto flights will not feature Qsuites just yet, but instead will offer Qatar Airways’s still very luxurious reverse herringbone seats instead.
Having said that, you’ll still have the opportunity to sample the airline’s award-winning soft product, including a highly customizable food menu and extremely attentive service; furthermore, the airline has been diligent in terms of fitting Qsuites onto its North American routes in recent years, so I would expect that Toronto may also get Qsuites sooner or later.
(If you really want the Qsuites experience, then you can always hop over to Montreal and catch your Qatar Airways flight from there, where both the A350 and the 777 serving the route are equipped with Qsuites.)
As reported by One Mile at a Time, Qatar Airways’s new route announcement comes as Canada and Qatar have expanded their bilateral aviation agreement to allow Qatar Airways to operate seven flights per week to Canada. Thus, they’ve chosen to add to their four weekly flights to Montreal with an additional three to Toronto.
How to Redeem Miles on the Toronto–Doha Route
Qatar Airways is among Oneworld’s best airlines; a flight on its business class is a highly coveted experience, while a flight in economy class is also head and shoulders above the rest. Luckily, you have a variety of options at your disposal to book Qatar Airways using several types of mileage currencies that are quite accessible in Canada.
At this moment, Qatar Airways seems to offer ample award space in economy class and four award seats in business class on every Toronto–Doha flight (and vice versa).
One of the easiest ways to book would be via British Airways Avios, which is a 1:1 transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and RBC Avion. Based on the distance-based award chart, a one-way flight in economy class would cost 36,250 Avios + $333…
…while a one-way flight in business class would cost a pretty hefty 108,250 Avios + $653.
Instead of using the regular distance-based chart, a better way to book Qatar Airways business class with your Avios would be to incorporate it into an Avios multi-carrier award, which may require fewer Avios. You’ll still have to contend with the fuel surcharges, though, unless your trip originates from a country with regulations on surcharges.
An alternative program for booking Qatar Airways would be Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. While it also uses a distance-based award chart, the specific award chart setup is different from Avios. Economy will cost 40,000 Asia Miles one-way, while business class will cost 75,000 Asia Miles one-way, which isn’t at all unreasonable for a 12-hour flight on Qatar Airways.
The added benefit of the Asia Miles chart is that the mileage amounts are “capped” at 90,000 Asia Miles for any one-way journey over 7,500 miles in distance flown. This means that you can continue onwards to any destination that Qatar Airways serves, and you’ll only pay 90,000 Asia Miles at most.
(Note that the system is currently showing 85,000 Asia Miles for this booking, which isn’t in line with the standard Asia Miles rules, which would normally charge 90,000 Asia Miles here. This is presumably because the Toronto–Doha flights have only just been loaded into the schedule.)
Based on historical searches on the Montreal–Doha flight, you can expect the fuel surcharges in business class to be around $700 on the outbound and $300 on the return.
To bring down the surcharges, you can consider originating in a country with fuel surcharge regulations, such as an itinerary of Tokyo–Doha–Toronto. This will still cost 90,000 Asia Miles, but the fuel surcharges will be minimal – when I flew Tokyo–Doha–Montreal earlier this year, I only paid an additional $90.
Finally, American AAdvantage miles can be used to book Qatar Airways as well. The trade-off here is that AAdvantage miles are tougher to earn in Canada (they can only be transferred from RBC Avion at a 1:0.7 ratio); however, they do not pass on any surcharges when redeeming for Qatar Airways, so your out-of-pocket expense may well be lower.
Some of the relevant mileage price points include:
40,000 or 70,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way Toronto–Doha flight in economy or business, respectively
40,000 or 70,000 AAdvantage miles for a flight from Toronto to the Indian Subcontinent via Doha
40,000 or 75,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way flight from Toronto to Africa via Doha in economy or business, respectively.
Meanwhile, AAdvantage’s strict routing rules prohibit flying Qatar Airways on your way from North America to, say, Asia or Australia.
Qatar Airways’s new Toronto–Doha route gives Canadians another premium redemption opportunity to look forward to when they begin travelling again. For Torontonians, it’s a comfortable and convenient direct route into the Middle East and beyond without having to connect via Montreal any longer, whereas for the rest of Canada, it’s a welcome second option for accessing Qatar Airways’s comprehensive global route network.
The airline has launched the route with a generous amount of award availability. Avios, Asia Miles, and AAdvantage will all offer you a way to book this flight for yourself, so you can tailor your redemption depending on which points currencies you hold.
Let’s just hope that Qatar Airways puts the new Qsuites product on this route sooner or later, and perhaps pray for some last-minute equipment swaps with the newer reconfigured A350-900s in the meantime.
(featured image by OneMoreWeekToGo)