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Phew! British Airways didn’t drop the hammer when Qatar Airways refreshed its Business Class fares


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The title of this post probably should read “…and breathe” because ever since we heard that Qatar Airways was refreshing its Business Class fare structure for the thousandth time, I’ve been holding my breath and waiting for British Airways to destroy what is undoubtedly one of the easiest routes to earning valuable elite status. Fortunately, my fears appear to have been unfounded.

Background

British Airways and Qatar Airways are both members of the oneworld alliance and this means that travelers can credit any Qatar Airways flights they take to the British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) and earn Avios and Tier Points (elite status credits) for those flights.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary with this, but the way the BAEC awards tier points combined with the nature of Qatar Airways routes and Business Class fares, opens up the door for travelers to earn British Airways elite status economically and without too much trouble. Here’s how:

Qatar Airways frequently offers truly fantastic Business Class fares for travel between Europe and Asia (roundtrip fares can sometimes price up at under $1,500) and not only do these fares usually offer flyers one of the best Business Class experiences available, but they also usually offer members of the BAEC 140 Tier Points per segment in a four-segment itinerary (all Qatar Airways trips between Europe and Asia require a stop in Doha).

That’s 560 Tier Points from a single trip and as 600 Tier Points is enough for BAEC Silver status (oneworld Sapphire status), one great value Business Class trip booked with Qatar Airways will get a flyer most of the way to incredibly valuable elite status (Business Class lounge access on all oneworld flights, free seat selection at the time of booking, bonus Avios, etc,…).

This is a big reason why Qatar Airways is so popular with members of the British Airways Executive Club and it’s why a lot of members would have been more than a little worried when, towards the end of September, Qatar Airways announced that it would be changing its Business Class fare structure.

A change in fare structure means an opportunity for airline loyalty programs to reassess how many redeemable miles/points they award and how many elite staus credits they hand out, and with Qatar Airways changing its Business Class fare structure, the BAEC was given a chance to reassess how many Tier Points the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class fares would earn.

Qatar Airways Business Class Fare Changes

I’m not going to go back over the changes that Qatar Airways put into effect in great detail (you can read the details here) but what you need to know is this:

As of 1 October, Qatar Airways has separated out its Business Class fares into four new “fare families” where each family gives customers a slightly different set of benefits. The fares are called EliteComfortClassic, and Lite, and the airline’s cheapest deals now book into fare code “P”.

The Business Class “Lite” fares are the key fares in this discussion as they’re the fares that most people looking to earn BAEC status by flying with Qatar Airways will be booking, and as soon as these fares were announced, we found out that their earning rates would be worse than the earning rates the old Business Class fares offered.

Specifically, we were told that the new Qatar Airways Lite (P Class) fares would earn fewer miles and elite status credits in the Qatar Airways Privilege Club, fewer miles and elite qualifying dollars in the American Airlines AAdvantage program, and fewer Avios in the British Airways Executive Club.

What we didn’t know, at the time of the announcement, was what effect these changes would have on the Tier Points that British Airways would award to flyers booking the cheapest Business Class fares that Qatar Airways offers.

Relief!

The last time Qatar Airways tinkered with its fare structure, British Airways didn’t change the number of Avios that it awarded for the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class fares so because this time the number of Avios offered for the cheapest Business Class fares went down, there was a real risk that the number of Tier Points that would be awarded for the cheapest Business Class fares would go down too. Fortunately, that doesn’t appear to have happened.

British Airways has now updated the Avios calculator to include the new Qatar Airways P Class Business Class fares (P Class fares were once a Qatar Airways First Class fare) and it shows that they, along with all, the other Qatar Airways Business Class fares continue to earn 140 Tier Points on most Europe-Doha and Doha-Asia routes.

Interestingly, the Avios calculator is currently showing that not only do all Qatar Airways Business Class fares earn the same number of Tier Points but that they all earn the same number of Avios too, and that’s something that contradicts the information on BA’s partner earnings page where the P Class fares clearly earn fewer Avios than all the other Business Class fares:

I’m going to put this down as an error and something to watch and hope that it’s not a sign that BA hasn’t finished updating its systems.

Bottom Line

When Qatar Airways refreshed its Business Class fare structure at the end of September, there was a very real risk that we would see British Airways cut the number of Tier Points that it awards when flyers credit the cheapest Qatar Airways fares to the British Airways Executive Club. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like BA has taken the opportunity to drop the hammer on this occasion as its website has been updated to reflect the new Qatar Airways fares structure and there has been no cut to the tier points on offer.

With a rumored devaluation to the AAdvantage program apparently just around the corner, this is a little ray of sunshine for those of us who enjoy earning oneworld status economically.

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