Qatar Airways awards are now searchable and bookable at ba.com and bookable by calling American Airlines. This is huge news because Qatar has an excellent route network from the US to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and Maldives.
As announced on the oneworld site, Qatar Airways will join the oneworld alliance on October 30th. This is great news for those with large American Airlines AAdvantage or British Airways Avios balances. Doha-based Qatar Airways has a robust Middle Eastern route network and opens up connections to many places with presently poor oneworld coverage.
The best news of all is that Qatar award space is now bookable using the British Airways search tool. For more information on searching the British Airways website, make sure to check out Scott’s post Free First Class Next Month: Searching BA.com to Find oneworld Award Availability.
How can you search for Qatar award space? How can you book it with your American Airlines miles? How many miles do you need? What regions will Qatar help you reach?
Until very recently Qatar space was only searchable and not bookable online. You couldn’t complete an Avios award itinerary online and were forced phone the British Airways call center. This is a moot point if booking with AAdvantage miles. Qatar space doesn’t appear on AA.com, so you will need to call the AAdvantage desk at 800-882-8880 anyway and are subject to the unavoidable $25 phone fee per ticket.
What happens if I try to book a Qatar award using Avios?
Until very recently, you would receive an error message stating the itinerary was not bookable online and you should contact the British Airways call center. Now it appears that Qatar flights are in fact bookable with Avios.
As a DC-based flyer, my first searches were on Qatar’s Washington-Dulles to Doha route. I found business class space in February and proceeded to book.
Instead of receiving an error message, I was brought to the standard booking page as normal.
Does British Airways impose fuel surcharges on Qatar awards?
Unfortunately, yes. The breakdown in taxes and fees from the Washington to Doha show that $344 of the $370 in cash out of pocket are fuel surcharges.
I verified that British Airways was assessing the proper fuel surcharges on this flight by verifying with the ITA Matrix. For more information on that process, make sure to check out Scott’s post, Free First Class Next Month: Using ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights and Fuel Surcharge Info.
As expected, the fuel surcharge (YQ) lined up with the cost on BA.com.
Does American Airlines impose fuel surcharges on Qatar awards?
No. American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights. You will pay only taxes and fees like the $25 phone ticketing fee for booking Qatar flights as an American Airlines award.
How much does American charge for an award itinerary to the Middle East?
American charges 45k/67.5k/90k in economy/business/first class for oneway travel to the Indian Subcontinent and Middle East, which are lumped together into a single zone.
Where does Qatar fly in North America?
Qatar flies nonstop to Doha from Chicago, Houston, New York-JFK, and Washington-Dulles. In Canada, they service Montreal. According to Routes Online, they will begin service to Philadelphia beginning in early April 2014. They even have business and economy award space available on the scheduled inaugural flight on April 2nd!
Why is Qatar joining oneworld such good news?
American’s frustrating routing rules only allow transatlantic travel when flying from North America to the “Indian Subcontinent/Middle East” region on an AAdvantage award. Read more about that in Scott’s great post The Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards. Having Qatar in the oneworld alliance opens up many options for travel to India and the Maldives, two of our most heavily requested destinations at our Award Booking Service.
The oneworld alliance is also woefully weak in its African coverage. Royal Jordanian services the continent but is much smaller than Qatar. Air Berlin flies to a few North African destinations in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia and British Airways has coverage to South Africa.
On the whole, however, oneworld service to Africa can be described as “lackluster” compared to the Star Alliance and Sky Team. Qatar adds quite a few new African destinations that are bookable with Avios or AAdvantage miles.
What’s frustrating about using AAdvantage miles for travel to Africa?
Remember that under American’s arcane routing rules, you aren’t allowed to traverse the Middle East en route to Africa on a single award ticket. You will need to break the trip into two separate tickets (North America->Middle East and Middle East->Africa) which is quite a bit more expensive in miles than a standard roundtrip award between North America and Africa.
Qatar Airways is slated to officially join the oneworld alliance on October 30th. That’s great news for frequent flyers. Qatar opens up a great route network in the Middle East and to highly sought after destinations in the Indian Subcontinent, including the Maldives.
Up until very recently, you could only view award space on BA.com but had to call in to book. That’s changed and you can now book Qatar awards with Avios online. As with most other oneworld carriers, British Airways imposes hefty fuel surcharges on awards.
Even though American recently had a scare regarding fuel surcharges, they don’t impose them on AAdvantage awards. Use BA.com to search for space and call the AAdvantage desk to book. You will have to pay a mandatory $25 charge per ticket, but that’s far better than having to pay fuel surcharges with British Airways.