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Updated 30 March – Qatar Airways has now improved the status extensions its offering elite members (more here)
We have already seen IHG Rewards Club lower its elite status thresholds for 2020 and Hilton Honors has also confirmed that it’s reviewing its elite status requirements for 2020 but, up until yesterday (and with the exception of Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific), we hadn’t heard any of the major airlines making statements about the situation surrounding elite status qualification and elite benefits. Qatar Airways just changed that.
In a press release sent out yesterday (and that I have only just seen), Qatar Airways has confirmed that the members of the Qatar Airways Privilege Club will be able to “extend or reclaim” their tier benefits for memberships due to end before 31 January 2021.
The airline has said that members of its loyalty program are being given targeted offers which will see them able to retain their tier benefits (upgrades, lounge access privileges, extra baggage allowances, etc…) for up to 6 months but it hasn’t given details of what these targeted offers look like (we now have one data point where a flyer had their status extended by 3 months).
Qatar Airways Privilege Club members should log in to their accounts where they will be presented with their targeted offer which will then have to be “claimed” (via registration for the offer) on or before 24 March 2020.
Privilege Club members, therefore, have a little over 11 days to claim their elite benefit offers.
Simon Talling-Smith, the Chief Commercial Officer for Qatar Airways, is quoted as having said the following:
“As a result of the current situation regarding coronavirus, which has led to travel restrictions and flight reductions worldwide, many of our Privilege Club members have not travelled as frequently as they usually would.”
“Such restrictions are outside of our control as an airline, but we do not want our members to lose their hard-earned membership tier status as a result. That is why we are honouring the loyalty our members have shown us by offering to extend their tier membership and retain their current benefits. Offers will be personalised to each member to ensure that they receive the benefit options most relevant to them.
“While we understand that some members may need or wish to change their travel plans, we want to assure them that when they do travel with Qatar Airways, they can travel with confidence. Our fleet is one of the cleanest in the skies, and we have introduced new policies to provide all customers with maximum flexibility to suit their travel plans.”
The new policies that the Chief Commercial Officer is referring to in his comments are the change fee waiver policies which apply for travel to specific countries (details here) and a new “travel with confidence policy” which offers change fee waivers for passengers with existing bookings for travel through 30 June 2020 and passengers making new bookings for travel through 30 June 2020.
Under the airline’s travel with confidence policy, passengers can change their travel dates or exchange their bookings for a voucher for future travel up to 3 days before departure (terms apply).
Without actually seeing the various targeted offers it’s difficult to praise or criticize the airline…but I’m going to have a go anyway 🙂
From a positive angle, it’s good to see Qatar Airways recognizing the fact that a lot of people don’t want to travel right now and a lot of people are not allowed to travel right now so extending status benefits is the right thing to do. It’s nice seeing an airline at least attempt to do the right thing.
From a negative angle, I’m not impressed by the fact that Privilege Club members have been given a maximum of 13 days within which to “claim” their targeted offer. That seems miserly and I don’t see what the airline has to gain by not giving its flyers more time. What happens to those who don’t read blogs like this one and who missed the email that, presumably, Qatar Airways sent out yesterday or today? Do they just miss out?
Also, I’m not entirely sure why Qatar Airways feels the need to make this a targeted offer. IHG didn’t target individual members when it decided to lower the thresholds for elite status this year so why is Qatar Airways varying its offers by member? The airline would look a lot better in the eyes of its customers if it just came out with something simple…possibly along the lines of “everyone is being given an additional X number of months to retain/earn status and you can keep your existing benefits during these additional months”.
That would be simple, clear, to the point and fair.
I don’t hold status with Qatar Airways so I can’t see what the targeted offers look like but it sounds like Privilege Club members are being targeted for status extensions of differing lengths, presumably, based on how much Qatar Airways values their custom.
If anyone has been targeted for one of these offers please let us all know what it looks like in the comments section at the bottom of this post, thanks!