Qatar Airways launches ‘basic’ business class fares
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Many airlines around the world have been offering “basic” economy fares for several years now. Unfortunately, some airlines have begun capitalizing on a new trend of offering basic business-class fares.
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Qatar Airways has begun selling unbundled business-class fares in most markets, including flights from the U.S. to the Middle East. Based on our initial searches, the new fares don’t actually appear cheaper than what you would have expected to pay previously. Instead, they lack some key services and amenities that used to be free
“Classic” business class fares on Qatar Airways no longer include advance seat selection or complimentary lounge access. The fares still include the usual checked baggage allowance, free stopovers, earn miles and can be changed or canceled. However, depending on the program you credit to, you may earn less miles than other business class fares and pay a higher cancellation fee. (Note, Qatar is free changes for all new bookings made through Dec. 31, 2020.)
The new restrictions only apply to business-class tickets booking into the “R” fare class. Business-class award tickets book into the “U” class so they are unaffected.
While you’ll need to pull up your reservation on Qatar’s website to see the price, you will be able to purchase access to the Al Mourjan Business Lounge. Unlike many basic economy products, which typically allow advance seat selection for a fee, it appears that this fare does not offer any advance seat selection at all. This is especially bad news for groups that would want to reserve a “quad” in the Qsuite cabin.
Oneworld Sapphire (i.e. American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum) and Emerald members (i.e. AAdvantage Executive Platinum) members will continue to get complimentary lounge access regardless of their tickets as a part of their elite benefits — albeit to Qatar’s lounges specifically for Oneworld elites, not the Al Mourjan lounge.
Other airlines that offer ‘basic’ business class
Qatar is not the only airline to offer unbundled business-class fares. In June of 2019, Emirates introduced “special” business-class fares that exclude advance seat selection, chauffeur service and lounge access (unless you get it as a part of your elite status). Several other airlines, such as Finnair and ZIPAIR have since followed suit. Lufthansa also plans to differentiate its business-class products once it takes delivery of its 777X aircraft.
Unbundled business-class fares are unfortunately becoming increasingly popular. These fares aren’t priced lower than business-class fares were in the past, so you’ll now need to pay more for perks that used to be included. On the bright side, award tickets are unaffected.
Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
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