Airline pricing can be whacky, especially when you look at the different fares published out of different markets. There are some markets in the world which consistently have surprisingly low airfare, especially in first & business class. Colombo, Sri Lankan, and Cairo, Egypt, are two which immediately come to mind.
In many cases business & first class fares out of these markets are cheaper than economy fares out of most other markets.
Perhaps the airline best about publishing discounted business class fares out of these markets is Qatar Airways. The good news is that they’re part of oneworld, so you can credit the miles earned on those flights to American AAdvantage, or any of a number of other airlines.
Just to give an example, here’s a pretty standard roundtrip Colombo to New York business class fare, which routes through Doha in both directions:
The fare right now is perhaps slightly lower than usual, as ~$1,555 is a fantastic fare. But the fare is almost always below $2,000 roundtrip, and often even a bit less than the current price.
For reference, that’s about 18,000 “butt in seat” miles roundtrip, and if you credit to American you earn 1.5 EQMs per flown mile, for a total of ~27,000 elite qualifying miles.
The other great news is that while American’s program is going revenue based in the second half of the year, that only applies for tickets issued through American. So while a ~$1,500 fare would earn you ~16,500 redeemable miles as an Executive Platinum member under the new revenue based system, partner miles are still earned based on distance flown.
As of now, Qatar Airways flights booked in the “I” fare class earn 150% elite qualifying miles and 125% redeemable miles. As an Executive Platinum member I earn a further 100% mileage bonus, for a total of ~40,000 redeemable miles for the roundtrip.
But that’s not even what makes me most excited about this fare, which has been around for a long time. What makes me most excited is that Qatar Airways finally flies the A350 to the US, which features their fantastic reverse herringbone business class product with wifi.
Previously Qatar Airways just flew 777s to the US, which don’t have wifi and also don’t have direct aisle access from every seat. So I’m quite excited about the fact that Qatar now has their best business class product on select flights to the US, which is only the case as of this year.
For me, the opportunity cost of flying goes down greatly when I have wifi, which makes this type of fare much more appealing.
Admittedly these ex-Colombo fares aren’t for everyone, but if you position yourself properly, they can be a great value and a lot of fun. These tickets can quite easily be changed with minimal fees, so if you go to Asia with any frequency, you can always book a roundtrip and then adjust the return date as needed.
Assuming you credit your miles to American AAdvantage, the value proposition of these fares also improves in the second half of the year, as Qatar Airways tickets will still accrue miles based on distance flown rather than revenue spent. While there’s a chance they’ll change the earnings rates for Qatar Airways at that point, I doubt they’ll be cutting premium cabin mileage earnings rates.
Have you taken advantage of one of Qatar Airways’ great discounted business class fares?