Qatar Airways Pulls Kiev Fares, Imposes 14 Day Wait For Changes Using Most Generous Airline Policy Ever

The insane Qatar Airways airfare deal is one of the most generous I’ve ever seen, at least where there hasn’t been a mistake. You can book the cheapest flight you can find from the U.S. and then change the city you fly from and change where you fly to – just pick somewhere within 5000 miles of your originally booked destination.

The most popular itinerary for people to book has been Philadelphia – Kiev (via Doha) because there was a business class far of $1639 roundtrip. Then they’d change to their home city (if it has Qatar service, or a nearby city that does) and change to anywhere they’d want to go. For instance some people booked Los Angeles – Bangkok, or Chicago – Maldives, or Dallas – Nairobi.

It’s best to book your tickets on Qatar’s website (if you book through a site like Expedia you have to make changes through that site’s customer service) and when you’re ready to make a change call during the U.S. business day to avoid rolling over to the Philippines call center where readers have had some challenges.

One Mile at a Time notes that Qatar is now imposing a 14 day waiting period after purchasing tickets before you can make these voluntary changes.

In addition when you rebook it must be into the same booking class. For instance if you booked a business class R fare, you need to rebook into R on the new flights. That way they won’t sell seats they know will go empty and rebook people into seats they might actually sell for cash.

The other change that’s going to impede some people from taking advantage of this is that while Qatar Airways is still flying to Kiev per their schedule, from what I can tell they’ve stopped publishing fares between the U.S. and Kiev. That seems an odd way to prevent people from using the cheapest long haul business class fare they were offering from the U.S., $1639 Phiadelphia – Kiev.

The changes that Qatar has made have a great silver lining – it underscores they know what we’re doing, that it’s intentional (after all they’re the only airline selling a lot of international business class tickets for 2020 travel right now). They made changes but kept the core of the rules in place. This is no mistake, and there’s no abuse.

Key details to know:

  • Changes on tickets are free and unlimited: change your dates and destinations without charge
  • You can change your origin city to another airport in the same country, and change where you’re going to anywhere within 5000 miles of your original destination.
  • This policy doesn’t apply to booking 5th freedom routes like Phnom Pehn – Ho Chi Minh City (you can’t buy that cheap short flight and change it to fly to Europe).
  • Travel must take place by December 31, 2020
  • When you rebook it must be into the same fare class as your original ticket
  • You can cancel and take a voucher good for two years and get a 10% bonus if you prefer
  • Or instead of taking a voucher you can convert your ticket into frequent flyer miles at a rate of 100 miles per dollar (buying miles at 1 cent apiece)

This is still an amazing deal. You just have to wait 14 days after booking your ticket to make changes, and you have to book into the same fare class which at this point shouldn’t impose great challenges. And you may need to find another initial fare to book besides Philadelphia – Kiev, which presents limitations because I’m mostly seeing $2500+ fares on the routes I’d normally check.

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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  1. Not sure how this is going to work in practice. If almost everyone purchased the cheapest fare and then tries to change it to the more expensive routes and there is a time limit to fly then it seems some people may not be able to find seats on flights they want or the dates they need. Guess it depends on how many people tried to do this with the goal of switching flights.

  2. Those who booked a ticket before this rule change aren’t subject to it, are we? We should still be able to :
    – call within 14 days
    – book any business class fare level

  3. Only one data point, but I bought PHL-KBP yesterday and managed to change to ORD-BKK today with no fuss.

  4. I too was able to get my November JFK-KBP flight changed to JFK-BKK. Was also able to change the return date as well.
    I tried for HKT (Phuket) but the agent rejected it saying it was over 5000 miles but she could not tell me much the exact mileage (google says it is 4800 mi).
    Booked my ticket directly with QR, put on a free 24-hr hold on Friday (May 15) and paid $1657usd on Saturday (May 16)
    What’s the best program to credit mileage to?

  5. I don’t trust QR, based on past experience. Don’t be surprised if they alter the deal after the fact.

  6. @Tom, that is exactly what this post is about. QR indeed HAS altered the deal, as of today. But as gleff notes, the altered terms are not very onerous w/r/t the original deal terms.

  7. Funny I called the Qatar number in Qatar and they said have to wait 15 days. Maybe different call centers have different rules.

  8. If you purchased on May 15 with their May 13 guidelines, do you still have to comply with their revised rules?
    In particular, I bought this knowing I could change later to J-C-D-I if there was no R.
    Now the terms are totally different and R is blocked pretty much everywhere for the rest of 2020.
    My travel agent sent me the PDF which clearly shows it allows same cabin lowest code available.
    I can still void my ticket Monday but only if I have to follow the new rules and not my ticketing day rules.

  9. Does this mean this ‘deal’ will stop getting passed around the circle jerk blogosphere echo chamber? I’d feel bad for the people who actually paid real money for this, but if you have money to light on fire then I guess there’s nothing to feel bad about.

  10. The issue is not with the 14 days. The issue is that the class of service has to be available. I just spent an hour on the phone with the supervisor and PHL-KBP tix was a class of service that is not widely available. Both the 14 days and same class of service policy change was instituted after some of us bought our tickets. They said that we took advantage of the policy and therefore a policy change is within their rights. I requested a full refund but was denied.

  11. “My travel agent sent me the PDF which clearly shows it allows same cabin lowest code available.”

    Al: could you please post link to the pdf to which you refer. (Or otherwise make it available to the rest of us?) . Thx.

  12. R bucket seems to be available for most of Africa and the subcontinent (I just checked for dates in September as a test)

  13. I was rebooked in C for a return portion (BKK-DOH-JFK) today. Initial booking all in R. First call (US #; connected to Doha) – no change till 14 days after booking. Called back 5 minutes later (same US #; US agent), rebooked with no questions asked. I was told no refund if canceled by them/can be rebooked for future dates, including 2021, if no travel possible by the end of 2020.

  14. My question is, what happens if we can’t fly in 2020, are we all just gonna be stuck with low(ish) value vouchers for Qr?

    I’m bummed because they don’t fly to YVR or SEA. So my closest QR city would be SFO.

    I don’t really have any need for travel in 2020 because so much is still up in the air. I have big plans for 2021. Here’s hoping they extend this even to like the first 3-4 months of 2021

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