Business Class Fare on Qatar Airways: 7300 Miles for $250

Last week when it erroneously appeared that American Airlines was going to start adding fuel surcharges onto all international award tickets, and that there might just be a short window to make bookings before the change was fully implemented, I hurriedly grabbed a first class award on Cathay Pacific with onward business class segments to Cambodia and Vietnam.

It turned out the whole scare was a false alarm. but I did have an award ticket to play with an I started to ponder what I might do in Southeast Asia.

I was looking at airfares between Cambodia and Vietnam and found that Qatar Airways had a ‘tag flight’ between Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

I’ve never flown Qatar, so I was interested. And it’s a really short flight — just 132 miles — so unsurprisingly there are quite reasonable fares for purchase.

But there’s something special about this flight, or rather the airfares that have been filed between the two cities. They were allowing connections in Doha…!

And that’s a whole lot more miles.

So How Do You Find This Fare?

Just try a multi-city booking at QatarAirways.com: Phnom Penh to Doha, Doha to Ho Chi Minh City.

You should be able to add a stopover in Doha for additional cost if you wish (as an add-on charge, rather than causing the fare to price as Cambodia – Qatar plus Qatar – Vietnam).

With random dates next week here’s the itinerary that came back:

And how much would it cost?

Relevant details of fare ZOWKH:

  • One-day advance purchase
  • Books into Z fare bucket
  • $40 cancellation charge

Why Would You Want to Do This?

I realize that this fare is going to be of limited use to most folks, since it requires starting in Southeast Asia.

But having found it, I figured it wouldn’t do anyone any good if I didn’t write about it.

And there are some interesting uses for it.

Qatar Airways is scheduled to join oneworld next month meaning that if all goes as planned they will become an American Airlines partner.

They are already a mileage partner of British Airways which is sponsoring their entry into oneworld (BA got pretty well stuck when Qantas exited their joint venture to go separately with Emirates).

Presumably you will be able to mileage run quite cheaply for American Airlines status, this is about 3.5 cents per flown miles. We will have to wait to see what sort of bonus ‘points’ will be awarded for paid discounted business class on Qatar, until the earning chart is posted there are no guarantees in that regard, but it could be even more useful than just flying ~ 7500 miles for ~ $250.

These fares earn 125% of miles flown in the British Airways program though they do not yet earn elite-qualifying tier points. We’ll have to wait for oneworld membership for that to become active.

Will it Be Honored?

As we any fare offering outsized value, there’s always the risk that the travel provider decides they don’t want to honor what they’ve offered.

In general I suggest not booking any non-refundable arrangements surrounding such great fares right away, to wait and see what the airline does. And since this fare doesn’t originate or terminate or even connect in the U.S. there aren’t any of the US (or even European, for that matter) consumer protections that apply.

I don’t see any reason straight away that this will not be honored, but there’s not a guarantee. So my advice is to book if interested and then wait a bit to see what happens.

So… Is this just too far out to be of any use to you, or does it get the juices flowing on this Saturday morning?


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. One question for Gary or others …

    What do you guys think would be thought of doing a couple of these back to back? Would Cambodians understand traveling to get miles?

  2. “what would the point have been in keeping quiet about it?”

    @Gary, so your premise is that since you were the first person to blab about it on a blog, you were in fact the first and only person to find out about it, and nobody could have booked it before you posted about it?

    Interesting….

  3. Thanks for sharing, Gary. Booked myself a PNH-DOH-SGN itin with a 20-hour stop in DOH to check it out. Not until late January, but hopefully QR will be in OW then so I can use my EXP/Emerald benefits on the ground.

  4. By the way, I’m guessing we’re seeing fewer and fewer “fat finger” mistake fares and more fares like this where the routing rules allow for more miles, or fluctuations in exchange rates allow for favorable dollar purchases. Do you sense the same?

  5. Thanks for sharing Gary. Not often us S/SE Asia guys get a deal like this, just so you know you have at least one avid reader and supporter here in Hong Kong.

    Comes in around $430 for me just after CNY – just need to figure out the other ends, and as I’m OWE, lounges are sorted.

    Never been to doha – so another stamp in my passport collection. Cheers

  6. @Jesu, how are you getting a 44 hour stopover in DOH without paying the stopover fee? I might reconsider this fare if I can stop in DOH (even though there is nothing of real interest to see, sorry Qatar!)

  7. Gary love the blog!!! Thanks for this great find, I booked for April, not I just need to get there to start the trip from NA. Hopefully I can find a good way to get there.

  8. From someone who lives in Doha there is not much to do during the summer March-Nov. But when it cools down there are things to do which can fill 1-2 days in Doha; dune bashing, inland sea, souq.

    One thing not mentioned thus far with the access to the preminum term in Doha with a business class ticket. Some say it rivals LH FC term. You can comfortably wait out an 8 hour layover in the PT.

    QR has been known to do some shady stuff in the past such as bump business class ticket holders to economy for higher fare ticket holders and for Qataris. You shouldn’t need to worry about the Qatari factor on this route though.

  9. This fare has been around and booked by some FTers even before this blog posted about it — substantially before this blog posted about it going by ticket issue dates I’ve seen.

    About mileage running in Cambodia, well, I’d say that Cambodia is less the issue than other countries, including the US especially if you are a single male pax returning to the US after one of these trips.

  10. Amol,

    I am not sure that there are fewer “fat finger” fares. What happens is that the “fat finger” deals get shut down far faster than used to be the case — although the airlines shifting to fuel surcharges being a more major part of the total ticketed fare may be part of an explanation for a decline in “fat finger” fares remaining available for long. The airlines and their contracted partners are in a much better position now to find out about anomalous booking and pricing patterns and/or to shut them down once they become aware of them.

  11. Wandering Aramean,

    So you posted about this on some private board somewhere and then it was picked up by folks there? I want in and want to know who and what gets out. 😉

  12. @Lee if anyone had shared this fare with me and requested I not write about it I would not have. As far as I knew I was the first one to come across it. Are you suggesting that anything I figure out I should never write, because someone somewhere might already be using it? When I have no way to know or verify this?

    And as for a fare like this, why would those unnamed and unknown people be entitled to continuing future use of a fare, when it might get pulled anyway?

    If you are suggesting others were already using this, who were they and where was this posted?

  13. @Amol – the reason we see fewer fat finger fares, as I have written in the past, is that ATPCO introduced software tools to help guard against fat finger fares. It’s only airlines usually now that don’t really care to learn how to engage those tools that wind up with fat finger fares. That’s why such fares were a lot more common 3+ years ago than they are today, and it’s generally Central and South Asian airlines (and no doubt others like African carriers) that wind up posting fat finger fares, which are not searched for as frequently either so often go unfound.

  14. @GUWonder – FTers were booking it? Link?
    @GWWonder – there are fewer fat finger fares, as ATPCO folks have explained to me
    @GUWonder – I believe Wandering Aramean was saying he posted this deal in private, citing this blog post

  15. Gary, you aren’t aware that some FTers participate on private boards and other restricted channels where such types of fares come up before they come up on FT threads or boardingarea.com blog entries (if they even make it to FT threads or boardingarea.com blog entries)? Come on, neither of us was born yesterday. 🙂

    Do you really expect me to draft FTers to put up links with this deal’s ticket issue dates preceding your blog entry date by at least a day or two? I am not going to do it, but I want in wherever these fare deals first come up, even if not always here. 😉

    I am rather well aware of what ATPCO and some other industry partners have done. Some years back I was amongst the first on FT to indicate that ATPCO was going to (and has since managed to) knee-cap the chances of getting in on great fare deals.

    This isn’t to say that you didn’t discover this fare on your own that you weren’t the first to publicly post this deal. We stumble into various deals when we search more and more, and the more you search, the more you find. And you do search a lot. However that doesn’t necessarily make us the first to know about a fare deal and/or be involved in getting it ticketed first. I don’t know all of what happened with this fare, but there are ticket issue dates that predate this fare’s blog entry being published by you.

  16. @GUWonder You referred to “Flyertalkers” booking these tickets, so I asked where on Flyertalk this had been posted. I don’t think you mentioned above that the discussion was going on in a private forum.

    I don’t think I’ve claimed that I’m the first person ever to find this fare. how would I know this? I just shared how I came about finding it, I booked a ticket to fly into Cambodia and out of Vietnam, and I was looking into airfares in the region and found the Qatar flight (which I hadn’t realized existed) and was curious, read the fare rules, played around with the fare on the Qatar website and thought “cool” !

    I had not seen the fare publicly posted anywhere (or privately posted anywhere) prior to my blogging it. That’s all I was saying — I’m not doubting you when you say that you and others knew about the fare before I did. I have no way to know whether that’s true or not, but certainly believe you when you say it is, I haven’t ever known you to be disingenous.

    But that leaves me guessing, what could be your point in claiming others knew about the fare first? Was I supposed to know that the secret therefore somehow belonged to someone else and that I thus shouldn’t have written about it? Even if I wanted to honor someone else’s secret, how would I find out it was someone else’s secret??

    Now, you say “you weren’t the first to publicly post this deal.” If that’s true, then I probably shouldn’t be criticized for posting it if it was already out there. Though I’m genuinely confused at this point, if it was publicly posted already before I came up with it, wondering why no one has shared such a link.

  17. @Gary, don’t worry about these complainers who think everything should be shared exactly to the point it reaches them, then should be forever secret from everyone else. Ignore them.

  18. Thanks, another moron blogger ruining another great fare, that has been around for years for secret societies.

  19. @moron blogger — Maybe it’s “moron secret societies” because if you shared these fares with me on the understanding that I not post them, they wouldn’t get out! 😉

  20. Gary, I said the following:

    “This isn’t to say that you didn’t discover this fare on your own that you weren’t the first to publicly post this deal.”

    I would say that you were the first to publicly post about this fare.

    These two sentences of mine aren’t mutually exclusive.

  21. I believe we’ll have a green light on this one. I went to the Qatar Ticket office in Bangkok today to make payment. The agent said I couldn’t change the cities due to “market condition” of the ticket however I could change the date one time for free. I wanted to see if I could fly into BKK instead of PNH. She and her co worker looked three times at my double DOH routing but they took my credit card for payment and printed the receipt.

    There was a notice on my reservation hold when I went back the next day to pay that stated the online reservation could not be modified and to contact the Qatar ticket office. That is why I went in person to make the payment at the ticket office. After payment at their office, I can change the seats online. Everything look good.

    Thanks Gary! You the man.

  22. I think the deal is dead now. I’ve been trying (I live in KUL so its close) and it Qatar Airways website keeps giving errors if you try to route through DOH.

  23. I had the same issue as Danny, and needed to go to a ticketing location.
    The closest one for me was the Chicago office, located in the Hancock Building. I didn’t have an issue getting my ticket for November confirmed. Showed them the printout indicating I had to complete the purchase in person; and didn’t have any issues. I had a harder time getting into the Hancock Building than I did with the ticketing.
    Thanks for the heads up on this one!!! Here is hoping that Qatar is in One World by then.

  24. Well done you absolute idiots for going into a Qatar airways office and getting the staff there to query whether it was a valid fare.
    Why not just stand outside the office and waive a big flag that says “I’m a dickhead and I’m going to ruin it for everyone because I don’t know how to use the internet”

    It’s gone now.

    Cheers,

    Disgruntled

  25. @ noondog

    We were in Round One sale which allowed you to hold the reservation for 48 hours before you had to pay. When we went pay to pay it stated we HAD to make the payment in the Qatar ticketing office. That was our only choice.

    Don’t you think they were alerted to the situation when they saw thousands of tickets being sold on their online system rather than a few passengers paying for tickets in various offices?

    On the humorous side I received an email from Qatar notifying me that the sale [Round Three} had been extended for another 2 days.

    “Experience the Qatar Airways 5-star journey at a fraction of our usual fares. You have only 3 days left to save on select Economy and Business Class fares throughout the expanding Qatar Airways network.”

  26. Hi! I was about the book SGN-PNH on QR Redemption Easy Deals, however, there seems to be an error in the site! I was able to book successfully a QR flight from BKK-HANOI on U with only 7,500 miles. Taxes were about 2200THB only. Good deal. So now, I’m wondering the difficulty or the system glitch of the SGN-PNH route. I verified with QR over the phone and they said the direct short route is openly available. Any explanations? I sent an email to the club already.

  27. Okay system glitch. But I decided not to get through the direct flight booking redemption on phone which takes a lot of time. My solution: I’m taking the 6-hour bus from Saigon to PNH. 13$ fare on A/C bus with free wifi on board, breakfast and bottled water, much sweeter deal than to through hoolabaloo with QR people. 🙁

  28. My circuitous routing via Doha has been canceled/changed to a nonstop. Too bad, I was already making plans to travel to Cambodia!

    Dear Customer,

    Changes to Your Itinerary ******

    You recently purchased a ticket at qatarairways.com for travel within South East Asia, including a transfer through Doha.

    This itinerary through Doha was quoted to you for a price that is intended only for short haul direct flights in Asia. This happened due to an error in our system, outside the control of Qatar Airways.

    If you did not realize the error prior to this email we would like to apologize for any inconvenience the incorrect routing display may have caused. We would like to offer you the following options to demonstrate our appreciation of your loyalty and understanding:

    1/ For your convenience, we already rebooked you on the direct non-stop service to your destination, and would like to offer you 10 000 Qmiles as compensation to offset any inconvenience this may have caused. To have the miles credited, please confirm your Privilege Club membership number and reply to this email to opt in. Please note that miles will be credited after your flight is completed, and only one passenger per booking is eligible to receive the compensation.

    2/ In case the new routing does not fit your travel needs, we would like to hereby apologize and offer a full refund on your ticket. To apply for the refund, please confirm in a reply to this email, or submit the refund request form at qatarairways.com/refund
    Unfortunately we are unable to offer further compensation in this case.

    3/ If you would still prefer to travel on your original itinerary through Doha, we hereby offer you a 15% discount on Business class, or 10% discount on Economy class. Please contact the Qatar Airways office in the country of your departure to make a new booking, and submit a refund request at qatarairways.com/refund

    The discount is applicable on the lowest available net fare, excluding taxes and promotional fares, and miles will be credited to you based on regular class and tier eligibility.

    Please note that you can only choose one of the three options from above, and you need to respond to this email within 28 days, otherwise the above offer will be withdrawn.

    We would like to apologise again, and we look forward to welcoming you onboard soon.

  29. I received this dreadful email just a few mins ago. A one way Pnh to Sgn is simply not good for me. I had a 3night stop over in Doha in the itinerary before returning to Sgn. What to do next? Any suggestions? Your replies would be of great help. Many Thanks.

  30. Shame on Qatar Airways! Very bad experience. I bought this ticket on September 5, while on a trip in Vietnam, for a ticket PNH-DOH-SGN on September 23. Everything fine. Just took a bus/boat for SGN-PNH. Then in PNH, I checked in online for the whole trip, printed my boarding passes, both PNH-DOH and DOH-SGN, went to the airport, no pb. When in the lounge, waiting for boarding, a rep for Qatar came to show me a letter, dated September 17 (!) they said they sent me the same morning (September 23!) by email and that I could not board. I said I have a valid ticket and valid boarding passes for the whole trip, and they have no right to deny me boarding, whatever mistake they made. A stand off ensued, but at the end I was denied boarding, and no compensation, not even hotel bill, nor miles, nothing just the refund. What a joke of an airline!!!

  31. Did anybody manage to get the ticket honored? Was I the first or even the only one denied boarding on the spot? This was a horrendous experience with Qatar Airways, as I had changed my itinerary to go to Cambodia and set up a couple of meetings with acquaintances in Doha and could not even go back to SGN that day as I had no more visa to Vietnam. All that was ruined. Even United did honor their mistake tickets recently. Qatar Airways is a shameful airline. Please share your experience, if any.

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