Qatar Airways is a great option to target using Asia Miles, Qantas Points and AAdvantage miles, and will become an even more attractive prospect with the introduction of its updated Business Class product from mid-2017.
The new ‘Qsuite’ Business Class product
Qatar Airways has unveiled a long-awaited upgrade to its Business Class product at the travel trade show ITB Berlin this week.
With the intelligent slogan ‘First in Business’ – referring to a product which really combines elements of both a First and Business Class seat – the Qsuite will feature sliding privacy doors, much like you can currently experience in Singapore Airlines and Emirates First Class Suites as well as on Korean Air’s Boeing 747-8i aircraft.
The two middle seats will convert into a double bed, again just like in Singapore Airlines First Class Suites.
And there will be removable row dividers in the middle row to convert four adjacent middle seats into a family room.
As we see it, the pros are:
- a high level of privacy for solo travellers
- a more intimate flying experience for couples, groups and families
- beautiful finishing touches
The cons could be:
- slightly more cramped seat due to an increase in overall space with addition of door
- family room is great for families but could be a noise concern for solo travellers
- still no word on whether there will be inflight wifi
Here’s the Qsuite introduction video from Qatar:
as well as a 360° tour of the Qsuite:
Which routes will be the first to feature the Qsuite?
- Doha to London will be the launch route from June 2017 on a new Boeing 777-300ER
- Then you can expect routes to be serviced by the new A350-1000 (of which Qatar is the launch customer) next, as well as a retrofit of Qatar’s Boeing 777 (servicing Perth) and Airbus A350-900 (servicing Adelaide) aircraft – that’s good news for travellers from Western and South Australia
- Finally, routes serviced by the Airbus A380 (Sydney and Melbourne) and Boeing 787 Dreamliner are down the priority list as both need tweaks to the design to adapt to these aircraft – the A380 has curved walls and the 787 a narrower body
While the 777 is in dire need of an upgrade, it is actually quite surprising that Qatar is planning on retrofitting any of its A350, A380 or 787 aircraft as they already feature a fantastic Business Class product but if I were a passenger travelling on one of these aircraft with the new product I wouldn’t be complaining!
In this guide
Part I of this guide explores the different Business Class offerings between the A380 (on flights from Sydney and Melbourne), A350 (Adelaide) and 777 (Perth).
In Part II, we’ll go into detail on redeeming Qantas Points, Asia Miles and AAdvantage miles for travel from Australia to Doha and beyond.
As Qatar generally make a decent number of frequent flyer redemption seats available – and are Qantas Frequent Flyer redemption partners – understanding how to use your points for Qatar flights to the Middle East and Europe is a very useful part of your points redemption knowledge.
What to expect from Qatar Airways Business Class
A380 services from Sydney and Melbourne
On the A380 (as well as onward flights from their Doha hub to destinations served by the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner), Qatar has a herringbone 1-2-1 configuration in Business Class.
There is also a full-service onboard bar on the A380.
First Class – pictured below – is available on A380 flights but not on other aircraft. Qatar First Class award redemptions are usually readily available from Sydney to Doha – a great use of Qantas Points.
In addition to Sydney and Melbourne, Qatar also operates A380 services to Atlanta, Bangkok, Guangzhou, London and Paris.
A350 service from Adelaide
The A350 is the world’s newest commercial aircraft and Qatar was the first airline to fly it, launching its Doha-Adelaide service in May 2016.
The A350 has 36 fully-flat beds stretching to 203cm when flat with a 17-inch personal entertainment screen, as well as a seemingly airier cabin with large windows.
As opposed to the A380’s full-service bar, the A350 has a self-service snacks and drinks bar.
777 service from Perth (due to change to A350?)
From Perth, Qatar operates 777-300ERs with a 2-2-2 full lie-flat beds Business Class configuration. It is probably a slight improvement in seat offering than Qantas’ similar layout on their A380s and refurbished 747 aircraft, but inferior to the two other Qatar offerings above.
Researching award availability for Qatar Airways redemptions
Qatar Airways flights show up in the British Airways booking engine, and then, of course, also in Award Nexus. They can also be booked using Qantas Points and online using Asia Miles.
Qatar’s route options from Australia to Europe
Qatar Airways fly direct from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth to Doha, connecting to a multitude of European cities – Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, Larnaca, London, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, Venice, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb and Zurich.
Using points/miles to book from Australia on Qatar Airways using points
Here’s a summary of the main oneworld program costs for the Australia flights Qatar operates to Doha:
|From||Qantas Points||Asia Miles||AAdvantage miles|
Using Qantas Points
Qantas charges 112,000 Qantas Points for one way Business Class on the Sydney and Melbourne routes, which is considerably more expensive than the comparable Dubai flights flown by Qantas or Emirates at 96,000 points.
The same case applies to the other two cities, with Qantas charging 104,000 points from Adelaide to Doha and 92,000 from Perth, which is 20,000 points more than it costs to fly to Dubai on Qantas or Emirates. Qantas passes on full taxes and surcharges too.
If you are flying all the way onto Europe with no stopover, you’ll get more out of your Qantas Points by aiming for a redemption on Qantas/Emirates flights as this will come in at 128,000 points in total.
By comparison, partner award costs are pieced together flight by flight, costing you Sydney/Adelaide/Melbourne/Perth to Doha, plus the cost of the flight from Doha to your final destination.
Using Asia Miles
Asia Miles award charts are distance-zone based, with Sydney to Doha falling into the more expensive Zone E and the other three destinations into the cheaper Zone D.
For Asia Miles redemptions in Business Class from Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne to Doha, flights cost 70,000 Asia Miles one way, or 120,000 miles return.
Flying from Sydney costs 85,000 Asia Miles in Business Class one way, or 145,000 miles return.
If you are not flying from Sydney as your starting point (e.g. from Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Hobart), it may be worth booking your Qatar Airways redemption from Adelaide, Melbourne or Perth, instead of Sydney, when redeeming Asia Miles, and tagging on a paid, connecting domestic flight to one of the three.
Asia Miles also pass on all taxes and surcharges on partner redemptions, so out-of-pocket costs in cash will be similar to using Qantas Points.
Using AAdvantage Miles
Qatar Airways is probably one of the better uses of AAdvantage miles for Australian travellers, given the better-than-average redemption availability.
While AAdvantage only lets you redeem miles for travel between Australia and Europe on Etihad with two separate awards, Qatar will let you redeem with one award.
This means that you can take advantage of the reduced cost of 85,000 AAdvantage miles one way in Business Class to Europe, or 80,000 AAdvantage miles to Doha. Granted, these amounts were increased substantially from 60,000 and 45,000 miles respectively in AAdvantage’s March 2016 points devaluation.
By comparison, AAdvantage redemptions on Etihad will be much higher as you will need to redeem two awards, one to Abu Dhabi (80,000) and another to Europe (42,500) = 122,500 in total.
It’s great to have Qatar flying from four major Australian cities (hopefully Brisbane will get service in the near future too) and adding some competition on the Middle East routes, especially with Australian travellers being able to experience their newer A380 and A350 aircraft.
Asia Miles and AAdvantage award redemptions on Qatar seem to represent the best value for flights to Doha and beyond to Europe, with Qantas Points making more sense for connections through its Dubai co-hub with Emirates.
Supplementary images courtesy Qatar Airways.