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It was only last November when we saw Qatar Airways first introduce its version of an unbundled Business Class fare which no longer offered free seat selection or lounge access as part of its benefits package. Now, less than a year later, Qatar Airways is overhauling its Business Class fare structure once again and the latest changes could spell the end of the line for those of us accustomed to earning valuable elite status by booking the best deals that Qatar Airways offers.
New Qatar Airways Business Class Fare Families
Qatar Airways has announced that from 1 October 2021, its Business Class fares will be divided into four new “fare families” where each family will give customers a slightly different set of benefits. The fares will be called Elite, Comfort, Classic, and Lite and will see the airline’s cheapest deals booking into fare code “P”.
What’s key to note here is that not only will the new P Class fares not offer certain benefits that are usually expected with Business Class fares (e.g. lounge access and free seat selection at the time of booking) but they will also earn fewer miles and elite status credits too.
Qatar Airways Business Class Lite
The key differences between the new Qatar Airways Business Class Lite (P Class) fares and what the airline is now calling its “Classic” fare (R Class) are as follows:
- Lite fares earn fewer miles
- Lite fares earn fewer elite credits
- Lite fares don’t offer free lounge access*
- Lite fares don’t offer a complimentary dare/route change
*Qatar Airways has confirmed that oneworld elites will continue to have lounge access when they book a P fare but it’s likely that access will only be available to the airline’s basic Busines Class lounges and not to, for example, the Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha.
Importantly, the new Business Lite fares will not only earn fewer miles and elite status credits in the Qatar Airways Privilege Club, but they’ll also earn less in key programs like American Airlines AAdvantage and the British Airways Executive Club.
Qatar’s cheapest Business Class fares currently book into fare code “R” and as you’ll see from the tables below, R fares currently earn a respectable number of miles and elite status credits in American’s AAdvantage Program:
With the introduction of P fares from 1 October, the cheapest Qatar Airlines fares will now earn 40% fewer Redeemable Miles and 25% fewer Elite Qualifying Dollars. The number of Elite Qualifying Miles will not be changing.
You’ll find a similar story if you head over to the British Airways Executive Club. Right now, the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class fares (R Class) earn Avios at the rate of 125% of the distance flown.
From 1 October 2021, the new cheapest Business Class fares will earn Avios at the rate of 75% of the distance flown.
As British Airways doesn’t publish tables showing what Tier Points the various airline fares will earn, it’s impossible to be sure if we’re also about to see a cut to the number of Tier Points that the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class fares offer (the Avios Calculator has not yet been reprogrammed to treat P fares as the cheapest Business Class fares). However, considering that the number of Avios that the cheapest Business Class fares earn has been cut, there’s every chance that the number of Tier Points on offer will be cut too and that would be a crushing blow to those of us accustomed to earning 560 Tier Points on a single Europe-Asia-Europe roundtrip booking that often cost under $1,500.
Don’t Be Fooled, Flying Won’t Get Cheaper
Some people may make the mistake of thinking that the introduction of a Business Lite fare (which offers fewer benefits than most regular Business Class fares) will see Qatar Airways reducing prices to reflect the more basic nature of the benefits on offer, but that’s not going to happen.
The introduction of Business Class Lite fares has nothing to do with reducing prices and everything to do with offering less for what customers have already been paying. It’s about cutting costs, not prices.
We’re not about to see the dawn of a new era in which sub $1,500 roundtrip Qatar Airways Business Class fares out of Europe are the norm or where the cheaper Qatar Airways Business Class fares from the US are close to the $2,000 mark. Pricing won’t change. What will change is what customers will be given in exchange for the cheaper fares.
In every sense of the word, this will be a big downgrade for anyone used to booking the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class fares.
We got off lightly in November 2020 when Qatar Airways first tinkered with its Business Class fares because although the cheapest Business Class fares had their trip benefits cut, the number of miles and elite status credits that those fares offered stayed the same. Not this time.
From 1 October 2021, the number of redeemable miles/Avios offered by the cheaper Qatar Airways Business Class fares will be dropping and the number of (some) elite status credits they offer in the Privilege Club and the AAdvantage Program will be dropping too. Possibly, the number of Tier Points the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class fares offer will be dropping too and for a lot of people, that would signal the end of easy-to-earn oneworld status and the end of what has been a truly glorious run.