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As I noted yesterday, Qatar Airways has revamped its fare codes and, in the process, has introduced an unbundled Business Class fare that offers customers less than what most Business Class fares offer. The Qatar Airways website has now been updated to show the new fare options (on most routes) and in researching the latest changes, I noticed something that I wasn’t expecting to see.
A Quick Recap
Qatar Airways has launched what it’s calling “new, simplified fare families across all travel classes” which means that it now offers three different fare options for each of the two cabins that it currently sells.
- Business Class fares: Classic, Comfort, and Elite
- Economy Class fares: Classic, Convenience, and Comfort
The ‘Classic’ fares are the cheapest fares that the airline offers and in the case of the Business Class Classic fares, passengers are no longer given access to free seat selection at the time of booking* nor are they given access to the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha or the airline’s lounge in London^.
Right now, it is not clear if all or some of these restrictions will also apply to oneworld Emerald and Sapphire flyers whose elite status usually gives them lounge access and access to free seat selection at the time of booking.
*At the time of writing it is still possible to choose seats for free when booking a Business Class Classic fare but this is almost certainly only because the Qatar Airways website hasn’t yet been fully updated for all the changes.
^Other lounges may be excluded too – Qatar Airways has yet to confirm a lot of the details surrounding its new Classic fares.
A Possible New Downside
All the information that I saw yesterday (when this news first broke) suggested that the new Qatar Airways Classic Business Class fares would book into the airline’s cheapest Business fare code (R), and that the remaining Qatar Airways fare codes would represent bookings for Business Comfort and Business Elite fares.
I, mistakenly (apparently), assumed that this meant that if an ‘R’ fare was not available to be booked, the next cheapest fare would represent a Business Comfort booking which includes free seat selection and entry into all Qatar Airways Business Class lounges. Well, this doesn’t always appear to be the case.
Earlier, as I was testing to see what Qatar Airways was offering, I made a dummy booking for a Business Class fare for roundtrip travel between Los Angeles and Doha. These were the fares offered:
I chose the ‘Classic’ fare for both the outbound and inbound flights and this is what I was presented with:
The Classic Fare booked me into the “I” fare code so this appears to disprove the suggestion that Classic Fares all book into the cheapest fare code that Qatar Airways offers (R).
In this case, rather incredibly, it means that a flyer could pay almost $7,500 for a Business Class fare and not be given free seat selection at the time of booking and would not have access to the main Business Class lounge in Doha. To ensure lounge access and free seat selection (amongst other things), a flyer would have to pay over $1,300 more for a Business Class ‘Comfort’ fare which, from what I can see, always books into fare code ‘D’.
Up until now (and yes, I realize that it has only been a day), most people appear to have been under the impression that the new Qatar Airways Classic Business Class fares will only book into the airline’s cheapest fare class (R) but, as I think I’ve just shown, that’s not actually the case. Classic fares will also book into the airline’s more expensive ‘I’ fare code and this will almost certainly mean that just about all good Business Class fares that we see from Qatar Airways from now on will not offer advanced seat selection or access to some of the airline’s Business Class lounges.
Unless I’m missing something here (always possible!), this makes yesterday’s news even worse than some of us thought.