In a move that's almost certain to polarize opinion, Qatar Airways has modified the health and safety rules enforced onboard its aircraft to include a requirement for Economy Class passengers to wear both a mask and a visor for the duration of the flight. Business Class passengers will continue to be asked to wear a mask and/or shield at their own discretion.
Qatar Airways offers arguably the best all-around Business Class product in the world and it's a product that's better than a number of First Class cabins that I can mention. It also currently only offers its own First Class product on its Airbus A380 aircraft which the airline has already said it will be retiring...so will Qatar Airways really introduce a brand new First Class cabin?
Qatar Airways has grown to be the largest airline in the world during the current crisis, primarily due to the fact that it has continued to serve a variety of routes while most other large airlines have dramatically shrunk their capacities. Now, as airlines around the world begin to ramp up their services once more, Qatar Airways has confirmed that it now offers over 270 weekly flights to over 45 destinations...and the numbers keep growing.
Qatar Airways has been the only big Middle Eastern carrier that has kept a number of services operating to the United States throughout the current crisis and now, as the airline enters an eight week period during which it hopes to get as many as 70% of its routes back online, it has announced plans to resume flights to four major US cities.
The CEO of Qatar Airways gave a live interview to a British news channel yesterday afternoon and, as is always the case with Akbar Al Baker, he didn't mince his words and he wasn't short of a few opinions. The interview covered a broad spectrum of aviation issues and Al Baker revisited some old ground, but one of the more interesting revelations to come out of the interview is the fact that Qatar Airways wants to push back deliveries of new aircraft by up to a decade. That's incredible.
Back in February, American Airlines backtracked on two key positions it had taken in recent years. First, the airline did a u-turn on its relationship with Alaska Airlines and the two are now best friends and, just a few days later, American Airlines forgot that it had been calling for Qatar Airways to be banned from operating services to/from the US and announced a strategic partnership with the Middle Eastern carrier. The first stage of that partnership has now kicked into action.
Last Thursday, we discovered that Qatar Airways had introduced one of the most amazing cancellations/rebooking policies most of us have ever seen which opened up a wealth of possibilities for anyone willing to book speculative travel for later this year. Within 24 hours of this policy being confirmed, we started to see the airline taking measures to limit how easy this policy is to game with a number of rule changes and, over the weekend, it looks like the airline went even further.
I'm delighted to be able to hold my hands up and say that I was wrong. Earlier, when I wrote about the latest changes to Qatar Airways' cancellation policies, I stated that I thought one of the options was far too good to be true and that I would be very surprised if the option worked as a number of people suggested it would. Well, not only am I very surprised, I'm stunned!
Yesterday afternoon, Qatar Airways issued a number of updates to its current cancellation policies and based on the terms and conditions supplied and if taken at face value, it appears to be offering one of the most incredible cancellation policies I have ever seen....but is that really the case?
This is a fare that first appeared at the beginning of March (just as the current crisis was getting going in the US and Europe) but now it’s cheaper than ever, availability has improved, and the fare is still widely available well into 2021 – you’re unlikely to find a cheaper way to try out one of the world’s best Business Class products on a route originating in the US.