Is Qatar Airways Blocking All Partner Award Space?

Qatar Airways joined the oneworld alliance in late 2013, making them the first and only of the “big three” Gulf carriers to join one of the “big three” alliances.

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Qatar joining oneworld was exciting news for mileage enthusiasts:

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Historically, Qatar Airways has been quite good about making award seats available to partner airlines. As a general rule of thumb, they’ve made up to four business class award seats available per flight on their US routes.

However, as several readers have pointed out over the past couple of days, Qatar Airways isn’t making any award space available to partner frequent flyer programs at the moment. Nada. None. Not in any cabin or on any route.

So there’s no way to redeem miles from American AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, etc., for travel on Qatar Airways. When I first heard about this I assumed it was a glitch, since most people are using British Airways’ award search tool to find Qatar award space. However, I also called American to ask about Qatar award availability, and an agent wasn’t able to find any space either.

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So has Qatar Airways pulled space altogether, 0r is there still some space for members of their Qatar Airways Privilege Club? Interestingly Qatar Airways Privilege Club members seem to have access to the same award space as before, as it’s readily available. However, that space isn’t bookable with partner miles.

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What gives? There are a couple of possibilities here:

  • This is a tech glitch, and for whatever reason Qatar Airways award space just isn’t displaying to partner airlines at the moment. If that’s the case, the glitch could be fixed any moment.
  • This is intentional on the part of Qatar Airways, as they don’t see any value in making award space available to partner airlines. Qatar Airways is run by one of the most “passionate” people in the airline industry, and he has in no uncertain terms expressed his displeasure with some of his partner airlines.

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Bottom line

For now I’ll just mark this as “developing,” and we’ll hope that it’s a glitch rather than a long term strategy change for Qatar Airways. But if you can’t find Qatar Airways award space, at least you know it isn’t just you.

We are seeing a trend whereby more airlines make award space available exclusively to members of their own frequent flyer program, rather than to members of partner programs. As of the past couple of weeks that’s also what we’ve seen on the part of Virgin Australia.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this trend continue.

Do you think this is a tech glitch, or that Qatar Airways will no longer make award space available to partner airlines going forward?

Comments

  1. I noticed this too and wondered if it was a glitch or not.

    Since they’re part of OneWorld, do they “have to” release seats to partners?

  2. I had two reservations on hold with American for travel to S Africa through DOH. I called last night to ticket them and all seemed OK however I have not received an email confirmation or the e tickets yet. Status on AA website shows “On Request “. I thought this might be a normal delay but this is worrisome.

  3. My gut tells me it’s a tech glitch of some sort. If it’s intentional, I’d imagine QR would still release economy class awards to partners but restrict premium cabin awards to their own members (which honestly makes sense to me given QR does have a phenomenal premium product whereas some of its partners are not up to par.)

  4. It’s also happening on the Gol miles program “Smiles” not even a single qatar flight.

    I hope they come back at least in economy.

  5. I don’t know when the 4 seats were ever available on QR (unless its last minute or a long time out). I am EP and have NEVER been able to redeem any miles for QR business. I like QR but their reluctant OW membership participation is getting seriously annoying (from award space to Emerald lounge access in Doha). If you want to stay, participate as an equal, or leave (or start a semi-alliance like Etihad).

  6. Awards on QR are always very difficult to find. They will rather fly with empty seats and make no money than give awards to partners (for which I assume they make at least some money).

  7. I don’t think this is a glitch or it wouldn’t have gone on this long. Also the “maintenance story” is also hogwash as it shouldn’t take several days to “upgrade” systems and if it does you don’t want to fly them anyway. I think they are just being difficult frankly after reading Ben’s earlier posts about them

  8. Like Charlie, above, I booked a ticket between S Africa and N America connecting in DOH. AA booking showed “on request”. However the reservation was ticketed yesterday, two weeks after booking. Be patient, I think it’s a glitch.

  9. I vote for “clitch.” Now the remaining mystery is how long it is taking to open the Al Safwa First Class Loung at HIA.

  10. Lucky – In your opinion, does it make sense to transfer citi thank you points to Qatar’s ff program? Are redemption rates reasonable between the sub-continent and the US?

    Thanks!

  11. Still not fixed. I’m getting worried if this is intentional. Was looking to book award flights from USA to India on Qatar business class using AA miles, the other possible partner Etihad doesnt have availability for the dates that Qatar now would have.

  12. I’m seeing that some flights are back up but none of the flights from DOH to North America are showing. Anyone have any thoughts or see anything different?

  13. Any recent updates on this? When I looked yesterday I could not see any availability from the U.S. (at least not IAD, PHL or JFK) to Doha in any class. I have to think it is a glitch.

  14. Same here as of this morning still. Only finding very sporadic award space DOH-PHL or BKK-DOH, no real pattern that I can see.

  15. It is hard for me to imagine a glitch that renders North America unbookable, while DOH-everywhere else seems as abundant as ever (to Europe, Africa, Asia). My hopes of getting the entire family on either BOSDOH or JFKDOH seem to have been dashed (we are currently ticketed for two on each, though would prefer to fly together).

  16. I think they are block again. I couldnt find any from the BA webpage. They appeared there, but without price.When i wanted to book them, the system didnt let me

  17. Anyone have an update on this? I was eyeing BOS/PHL-DOH for a while but now it’s obviously gone. We still think it’s a “glitch” a month in?

  18. That’s a different glitch. If it displays on BA but doesn’t price you can call them and get it done. Or call AA. But they key is finding space on BA, which is others have noted has become next to impossible from NA in July and August.

  19. @JM — what you’re describing doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t book it. I booked a flight a couple of weeks ago that did the same thing. It showed the availability but didn’t price out on BA, but I was using AA miles, so pricing out on the BA website didn’t matter to me. I called AA to book and had no problem booking it over the phone. For those monitoring the situation, my flight was DXB-DOH-JNB — so no US legs.

    However, I can’t seem to find any availability the other way on Qatar now. Originally, I was seeing some dates I didn’t want, but I have seen 0 availability now for the past week or two. I’m not too concerned as I’m not counting on Qatar to open space, but I would be happy if they did. There are tons of seats available on some of the flights/dates I’d be interested in — just none showing for partner availability it seems. Hoping this doesn’t last like this.

  20. I’m trying to redeem Smiles for Qatar flights for next year, but there is no availability. Tried different destinations in Asia also tried different moths and nothing is available.

  21. It appears Qatar has blocked off NA to DOH availability in July again…anyone know if this is blackout partner award month for some reason?

  22. June/July is the Ramadan holiday season in the Middle East so I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing is available

  23. I’m not seeing any partner Qatar seats available to India in October-November 2016 either.

  24. Let me start by saying that I have over 1 million miles in the bank on Qatar. I have NEVER (in the past 2 years) been able to book a business class award seat on any Qatar flight. I was able to book an award economy seat from PHL to DOH. I tried to upgrade weeks before the flight with no success. They told me at the counter that no upgrades were available yet when I walked up to business class during the flight, there were 22 empty seats. I have also never been able to find a seat on American using Qatar/One World to any destination domestic or international. Get the same reply. No seats available on the dates you requested and not seats available with 4 days either side of those dates. I have called them and ask for when seats were available and been told there are no seats available at all.

    The Qatar program is a scam. They are not acting as a partner on One World and continuing to advertise that they are a partner is fraud. Had I known this I would have booked my million miles on any other airline. Has anyone filed a complaint with the FTC?

  25. Nothing between Hong Kong and Europe. EVER! Been searching for last 2 years. And recently Cathay to Europe has also totally dried up (even with Asia Miles). No other reasonable options as OneWorld coverage in Asia is really thin. MH is only flying to London which isn’t convenient for me) and Sri Lankan (which also isn’t convenient as too far/ schedule not good) also is retreating from Europe. Even BA nowadays (with USD 100 fee to reserve their soso J seat) has no availability. Oh, and of course Finnair never has availability either (neither long out or short notice).

    OneWorld miles redemption seems a total scam as the only availability is in Y (which of course is bad value).

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