Qatar Airways Adds Cash Fee for Redeeming Your Miles
Qatar Airways is going to start charging you to redeem your Qmiles. That's right, the airline is getting set to start charging you a cash fee, varying in price based on cabin, for any award booking made with your miles.
Beginning May 27, 2018, Qatar will start charging booking fees for both Qatar and partner airline awards. The charge is a minimum of $25 but can reach as much as $75 per ticket, based on fare class. More specifically, you'll be charged $25, $50 or $75 for economy, business or first, respectively. The currency is the equivalent of the country where the award ticket is issued.
This new booking fee is in addition to the typical fees associated with booking award flights. For example, you'll still have to pay fuel surcharges and taxes. What's puzzling about this new fee is that Privilege Club members are essentially being penalized for redeeming their Qmiles, further reducing the value of the currency altogether. According to TPG's most recent valuations, Qmiles are worth 1.1 cents apiece — the only airline with miles worth less is Spirit (0.4 cents apiece).
Qatar seems to be doing away with good parts of its Qmiles program — already the least appealing of the Middle Eastern three carriers. In February, the carrier made it so members who upgraded to a premium cabin using Qmiles or Qpoints can't receive baggage and lounge access benefits of the upgraded cabin.
While the Privilege Club program isn't all that rewarding — especially now that it will charge you for redeeming your miles — Qatar still does offer some great onboard products that are bookable using other currencies. For example, the carrier's premium Qsuite business class product. Instead of using Qmiles to redeem for a seat, which can actually be transferred from Citi ThankYou Points, your best bets would be to book using JAL Mileage Bank miles, American Airlines AAdvantage miles or Cathay Pacific Asia miles. Alternatively, you could use Qantas points, British Airways Avios or Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles. Check out this post for how you can search and book Qsuite with miles.
H/T: One Mile at a Time