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After an unveiling at ITB Berlin, Qatar Airways’ first aircraft with the brand-new Qsuites debuted at the Paris Air Show this week. And, it looks spectacular. In the words of TPG himself, it “feels like first class.” But, thankfully for award pricing purposes, it’s classified as a business-class product.
Qsuites will welcome its first passengers on June 24 on Qatar flight #7 from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR). TPG Editor-In-Chief Zach Honig will be on board to test it out and report back on how it is in the skies.
Sadly, there’s no award availability on the inaugural. However, as Qsuites is installed on more 777-300ERs — and soon on Qatar’s A350s — and put on more routes, you’ll have plenty of chances to try it for yourself. Let’s take a look at how you can book Qsuites with miles:
So far, Qatar has only officially confirmed Qsuites on three routes. These are from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR), Paris (CDG) and New York’s JFK. For zone-based programs, DOH-LHR and DOH-CDG are going to be the same — but the 13-hour flight to JFK is going to cost more.
Here are the nonstop award prices for these three routes:
|One-way (round-trip)||Doha to London||Doha to Paris||Doha to JFK|
|Japan Airlines Mileage Bank||42,000 (63,000)||42,000 (63,000)||63,000 (85,000)|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||42,500 (85,000)||42,500 (85,000)||70,000 (140,000)|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||45,000 (80,000)||45,000 (80,000)||70,000 (120,000)|
|Qantas Points||53,000 (106,000)||53,000 (106,000)||92,000 (184,000)|
|British Airways Avios||60,000 (120,000)||60,000 (120,000)||105,000 (210,000)|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich Miles||82,000 (125,000)||82,000 (125,000)||131,000 (202,000)|
As you can see, Japan Airlines’ Mileage Bank — a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest — blows away the competition when it comes to mileage costs. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s newly devalued award chart dropped Enrich Miles from being one of the front runners to the back of the back.
However, award pricing is just one aspect of the cost of an award. Let’s look at how much you’ll pay in taxes and fees to book these flights:
|One-way (round-trip)||Doha to London||Doha to Paris||Doha to JFK|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||$22 ($267)||$22 ($107)||$39 ($47)|
|British Airways Avios||$98 ($418)||$98 ($280)||$184 ($342)|
When I called to price out the Qatar flights using Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, I was told you’ve got to have enough miles in your account in order to price out award ticket taxes and fees. The agent could only note that taxes and fees were “not much” on Qatar. Ditto when I called Asia Miles.
That said, these are only for nonstop flights between these cities. If you want to connect within the region before or after your Qsuite flight, the zone-based American Airlines’ AAdvantage chart might come out ahead.
Searching Award Availability
Now that we understand the award pricing, let’s discuss how you can find and book these awards. First, you’re going to need to find award availability. As Qatar award availability doesn’t show on ExpertFlyer or American Airlines’ website, the best way of searching Qatar award availability is through British Airways’ website. Alternatively, if you have a Asia Miles account, you can also search availability through Asia Miles’ award search engine.
So far, the only Qatar flights with Qsuites seats are Qatar Flight #7 from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR) and Qatar Flight #8 from LHR-DOH. And, currently, I’m not seeing any availability on this route for at least the next few months. While services like ExpertFlyer are great for letting you know when award space opens up, since Qatar availability isn’t on ExpertFlyer, you’re going to have to manually search periodically and hope to stumble across award availability.
Once you have known award space, you might need to transfer points into the award program to book your flights. If you need a connecting flight before or after the Qsuites flight, you’re probably going to want to use the American Airlines AAdvantage program. And, unfortunately, you don’t have many options for generating more miles: transferring Starpoints or buying AA miles.
If you’re booking the nonstop one-way, JAL Mileage Bank and Cathay’s Asia Miles are about the same. However, you have a lot more transfer options with Cathay’s Asia Miles: American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints — while JAL Mileage Bank is just a transfer partner of Starpoints.
However, if you’re booking a round-trip nonstop award, JAL’s incredible pricing makes transferring Starpoints to your Mileage Bank the best option.
As you can see, Starpoints is a valuable currency if you want to book Qsuites. If you need more Starpoints, you can apply for Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express — or buy more Starpoints. Now through June 30, you can buy Starpoints for just 2.28 cents each.
Once you have enough miles in your AAdvantage, Mileage Bank or Asia Miles accounts, you’re probably going to have to pick up the phone. AAdvantage and Mileage Bank don’t allow you to search for Qatar award flights online. If you’ve got enough Asia Miles, you can search and book online — as long as all of your flights are on Qatar Airways.
For American Airlines AAdvantage, call 800-882-8880 (or your elite status number, if applicable); for Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, call 1-800-525-3663; for Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, call 1-866-892-2598.
If you’ve got lots of British Airways Avios to burn — and don’t mind paying the high taxes and fees — you are able to book Qatar award flights through BA’s website. But, for most travelers, this isn’t going to be a good option.
Qsuites is an incredible product and we’re looking forward to it spreading to more Qatar flights and routes. In the meantime, if you want to experience it for yourself, you’re going to want to stock up on Starpoints and transfer to either AAdvantage or Mileage Bank. Or, if you’ve got a stash of Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points, using Asia Miles might be the way to go.
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