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.