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Two and a half years ago Qatar Airways devalued their Privilege Club program by about 50% without notice and I stopped paying them much mind. I’ve heard a lot out of Doha that this was a mistake, and the pandemic has changed the way airlines are looking at their loyalty programs.
Even airlines that viewed frequent flyer programs as necessary evils, and put up a half-hearted ‘me too’ effort, now see them as an important tool to attract, incentivize, and compete for customers. Frequent flyer programs are the most successful marketing innovation in history and the primary marketing engine an airline has. And airline executives have looked into the abyss, they’ve been reminded of that.
So it’s simultaneously shocking and not at all surprising to see Qatar Airways reverse its 2018 devaluation of award prices once again without notice. (HT: Mainly Miles) This is important for U.S. frequent flyers for two reasons.
- It’s a great window into the direction world frequent flyer programs are headed, and another signal to programs in North America to step things up.
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club is a Citibank points transfer partner. Citi Premier® Card, with its 80,000 points after $4,000 spend in purchases within the first 3 months and 3x on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airlines, and hotels, just became more valuable.
QSuites Business Class, Credit: Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways Privilege Club doesn’t publish an award chart per se, but they have a calculator that shows the pricing of each route. There are no fuel surcharges on Privilege Club redemptions for Qatar Airways flights.
- 70,000 miles one-way in business class between New York JFK and Doha;
- 85,000 from New York JFK to Male, Maldives in business class
- London or Paris – Doha is 43,000 miles one way.
We’re looking at roughly 35% reductions in pricing, which is almost unheard of. (I’ve only ever seen such a reversal of a devaluation once from Thai Airways that I can recall.)
American AAdvantage miles are another great way to redeem Qatar Airways flights, with low mileage prices and no fuel surcharges as well. In the first quarter of next year, when Alaska Airlines joins oneworld, expect them to offer favorable redemption pricing as well. But to see competitive pricing from a foreign program that’s been uncompetitive in the past is truly great news.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® Earn 65,000 AAdvantage miles.