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I’ve always considered Qatar Airways to be the better of the 3 big Middle Eastern carriers – less “bling” than Emirates, less penny-pinching than Etihad and offering a better Business Class product than both. But now the airline has gone and done something that cheapens the brand and, frankly, doesn’t make much sense.
Per an internal communication initially seen by Flyertalk member stargold (and a few other Flyertalkers) Qatar Airways has made some seriously negative changes to benefits afforded to passengers who upgrade to Business or First Class.
Effective 5 February 2018, any upgrades using Qmiles or Qpoints prior to arriving at the airport will receive the baggage and lounge entitlement based on the original ticket purchased, not the upgraded class.
This has also now been posted on Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club webpage:
Effective 5th February 2018, baggage allowance and lounge access will be provided as per originally ticketed cabin.
Just to be clear, the lounge access restriction applies worldwide and not just to Doha so, for example, flyers upgrading out of London and Paris will no longer have access to the Qatar Airways lounges in those cities either.
I really don’t understand what Qatar Airways hopes to achieve by this move as all it’s really going to do is annoy members of its own frequent flyer program.
If Qatar Airways is trying to reduce overcrowding at the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge then perhaps the airline should stop selling access to anyone who wants it rather than denying access to those who have legitimately upgraded using the airline’s own loyalty points.
Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha
Travelers are now left in the rather quirky position where they can book a Qatar Airways Business Class flight using Avios/AAdvantage Miles/JAL Mileage Bank/any other oneworld currency and get lounge access but, should they actually pay Qatar Airways for a fare and then upgrade that fare with Qatar Airways’ own currency, they’re treated like second class citizens.
How does that make any sense at all?
This change also brings into question the point of the Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha.
This lounge is only open to passengers booked into Qatar Airways A380 First Class (oneworld status alone won’t get you in) and before this rule change it was mostly deserted. Now I can’t imagine the cavernous lounge getting more than a handful of visitors every day – what a colossal waste of space and money.
The Al Safwa First Class Lounge in Doha
I really don’t know what Qatar Airways is thinking with this move as it appears cheap (at best) and I can’t see what major benefit the airline will get out of it. As we about to see the Etihad-ification of Qatar Airways where perks are gradually stripped out from fares and status but are still available for sale?
I really hope not.
This is a short-sighted move by the Middle Eastern carrier and one which makes very little sense (I don’t believe upgraders are causing any overcrowding issues the lounges may occasionally face).
Personally this rule change makes absolutely no difference to me as I don’t consider QMiles a currency worth collecting….but it’s an unnecessary and harsh blow to Qatar Airways Privilege Club members.