While this isn’t quite an across-the-board hike of award pricing, you’ll now have to pay more for flights booked within 31 days of departure.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club Increases Last-Minute Award Pricing
As of late July 2023, Qatar Airways Privilege Club has increased the amount of Avios required for some last-minute business class award bookings. It appears that the increase only affects direct routes from North America or Europe to Doha, and only flights that depart within the next 31 days.
Between North America and Doha, the price for a last-minute award booking has increased by 35%, and between Europe and Doha, the increase is around 26%.
For example, from North America, a one-way flight in Qatar Airways Qsuites business class usually costs 70,000 Qatar Airways Avios at the “Saver” level.
Indeed, this is still the case if you’re booking over a month in advance, and a flight from Montreal–Doha in business class costs 70,000 Qatar Airways Avios, if you can find availability.
However, if you book a flight within 31 days of departure, the same business class ticket now costs 94,500 Qatar Airways Avios. This is a 35% increase over the “Saver” cost, which is significant.
As for flights from Europe, regular “Saver” awards in business class from Warsaw to Doha previously cost 43,000 Qatar Airways Avios at any time.
Now, for flights booked within 31 days of departure, the amount of Qatar Airways Avios required has jumped to 54,000 Avios. This represents a roughly 26% increase.
Likewise, a business class flight from Frankfurt to Doha saw the exact same increase as from Warsaw. It used to cost 43,000 Qatar Airways Avios, and now costs 54,000 Avios when booked within 31 days of departure, representing the same 26% increase.
This price hikes are also reflected if you try to book through British Airways Executive Club. Therefore, you wouldn’t be able to book the same flights with lower prices by using other flavours of Avios.
It’s important to note that passengers connecting in Doha to another destination don’t appear to be subject to this last-minute surcharge.
For example, a flight from Montreal–Doha–Bangkok costs the same 95,000 Qatar Airways Avios as it did before, whether you’re flying within the next 31 days or months down the road.
Likewise, Qatar Airways’s “Q2” or “Flexi” pricing also is not affected by this change. You’ll still find direct flights between North America or Europe and Doha available at twice the “Saver” cost, regardless of date.
Look to Other Programs for Last-Minute Awards
It’s always unfortunate to see a change like this, especially when it’s given without any warning or notice.
In fact, it’d actually be quite difficult to notice the change, since award availability between North America and Doha at the “Saver” level is quite limited across the board.
Last-minute award flights were previously one of the better ways to score a ticket on Qatar Airways Qsuites from North America, since award seats often showed up at the last minute on many routes.
Now, there’s essentially a last-minute surcharge of up to 35% added to these same bookings, which is unfortunate.
Aside from using Avios of any kind to book flights in Qatar Airways business class, both Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and American Airlines AAdvantage are good alternative programs. While they don’t seem to have the same amount of availability as through Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the last-minute surcharge shouldn’t apply in these programs.
It’s also worth noting that while this is most certainly a negative change, it could’ve been a lot worse if award pricing had increased across the board, such as the recent global devaluation to United MileagePlus.
If you’re able to book seats far in advance or that connect to other destinations, this change won’t affect you at all. However, if you tend to wait until the last minute, you can expect to pay more going forward.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club has quietly added a surcharge in Avios for last-minute award tickets in business class.
It’s important to note that this surcharge only applies for direct flights between Doha and Europe or North America. It doesn’t apply to flights booked 31 days or more in advance, or to flights that connect onwards to other destinations.
There is an increase of around 26% if you’re flying to and from Europe, and 35% if you’re flying to and from North America.