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UPDATE: Ignore my skepticism that comes later on in this post – this cancellation policy IS as good as some people suspected (more info).
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?
Qatar Airways New Cancellation Policies
If Qatar Airways cancels your flights you are entitled to a full refund but the airline is now offering a number of other options that are likely to be of interest to people whose flights haven’t been cancelled but who no longer wish to travel. On option, in particular, stands out.
Passengers who wish to cancel their Qatar Airways bookings can now…
- Extend the validity of their original ticket for 2 years from the date the ticket was issued.
- Exchange their ticket for a future travel voucher worth 110% of the original ticket price. Vouchers are valid for two years from the date of issue.
- Swap their ticket for Qmiles. The airline will award 100 Qmiles for every $1 so customers are essentially paying 1.0 cents/dollar for Qmiles.
- Change their travel dates or destination free of charge as often as they choose and/or change their origin to a city within the same country or to any destination Qatar Airways flies within 5,000 miles of the original city of origin.
These options apply to…
- Tickets issued on or before 30 September 2020
- Tickets for travel on or before 31 December 2020
- Qatar Airways fares only (codeshare flight operated by other airlines are not included)
Full details can be found via this link to the Qatar Airways “Rely on us when you need to fly” web page.
I’ve contacted Qatar Airways to try to extra clarity around some of these new rules because some of the wording makes things more than a little ambiguous but, until I hear back, this these are my thoughts:
Whether or not buying Qmiles at 1.0 cents each is worthwhile will depend on individual circumstances and on what the person buying the miles intends to do with them. Personally, I’m not in the market for Qmiles right now so one of the other options would be preferable.
It seems odd that Qatar Airways would allow a customer to make a flight booking and then immediately exchange it for a voucher worth more than the original booking, but I can’t see anything in the terms and conditions that would prevent someone from doing this. It’s worth noting that travel vouchers are non-refundable and non-transferable but if you fly with Qatar Airways reasonably often (i.e at least once a year) this shouldn’t be an issue.
The option to change a trip’s origin, dates, and destination is by far the most intersting but it’s also the one that’s most confusing because, taken at face value, it’s far too good to be true.
The terms and conditions for this option state the following:
- Rebooking fees will be waived if reservations are amended before departure (for travel on/before 31 December 2020).
- Rerouting is possible free of charge on Qatar Airways operated flights only from the same country of origin and/or within 5000 (five thousand) miles radius from the original destination booked.
A lot of people seem to think that this means that changes can be made to the origin, destination, and dates of a booking without a customer incurring a charge for the difference in fares…but I cannot imagine that this is what Qatar Airways means. An option that works this way would be far too open to being gamed.
If, for example, I was to book a trip between Oslo and Bangkok (via Doha) it’s very likely that I’d be able to lock-in a Business Class fare that costs less than $1,700 without having to search very hard and, if the rules are applied as some are suggesting, I would then be able to change my destination to Sydney (a vastly more expensive Business Class destination that’s within 5,000 miles of Bangkok) without any change in cost whatsoever.
I’m struggling to believe that this is how Qatar Airways intends its new rules to work and I don’t see anything in the t&cs that confirms that fare changes will not apply.
I’m willing to believe that Qatar Airways may be generous enough to waive any fare differences if the routing is kept the same, but why would the airline waive fare differences for huge changes in routings?
Until I hear back to the contrary (hopefully the airline will clarify its position within the next 24 hours), I’m going to assume these three things:
- All fees are being waived for flight changes
- Customers can change their destination to any other location Qatar Airways flies to within 5,000 miles of the original destination.
- A fare difference will apply for changes made to the original routing.
Assuming that things are any better than that is a recipe for a big disappointment down the line, so I suggest no one makes any bookings with a view to making changes to their routing before we’ve had clarification from the airline.
It’s possible that Qatar Airways now has one of the most generous cancellation policies of all time but I’m finding it very hard to believe that the rules will be applied in as generous a way as some are hoping. It would appear that it’s incredibly easy to get a 10% bonus on your Qatar Airways booking just by converting it to a voucher for future travel but I would urge readers not to assume that the flight change policy is as generous as it sounds until we have confirmation from the airline.