Does Anyone Travel From Cairo On Business? Qatar Airways Doesn’t Think So

In addition to airlines having limited time fare sales, there are certain markets out of which airlines consistently publish cheaper premium cabin fares. Of course the exact details vary, but you can generally expect that a ticket from New York to Colombo in business class will be significantly more expensive than the same ticket in reverse.

That’s simply market pricing, and reflects the relative demand, economies, currencies, etc. I’ve been writing about cheap premium fares for years, and there’s no doubt that over time they change. Some good fares get pulled, but others always emerge.

I’ve been taking advantage of cheap fares out of Cairo for years, but per the “Ask Lucky” forum, something very strange is going on with Qatar Airways fares out of Cairo at the moment. Specifically, Qatar Airways isn’t selling any longhaul business class tickets out of Cairo right now.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-30
Qatar Airways A350 business class

They’ll sell you a ticket just from Cairo to Doha…

Qatar-Airways-CAI-Fare-1

And they’ll sell you a ticket from Cairo to somewhere else in the Gulf, like Dubai…

Qatar-Airways-CAI-Fare-2

But they won’t sell you a longhaul business class ticket to anywhere, regardless of whether it’s New York…

Qatar-Airways-CAI-Fare-3

…or Johannesburg…

Qatar-Airways-CAI-Fare-4

…or Jakarta…

Qatar-Airways-CAI-Fare-5

…or Sydney.

Qatar-Airways-CAI-Fare-6

I was trying to diagnose the problem, because I’m always fascinated by the back-end details of airline pricing and fare construction. I pulled up availability from Cairo to New York via Doha on ExpertFlyer, and interestingly when you choose the combination of flights they’re both zeroed out, while individually they both have availability.

QR-Fare-8

Airlines sometimes use what’s called “married segment” logic, where they’re only willing to sell you a seat on a flight in conjunction with another flight.

To explain that a bit further, consider an American flight from San Diego to Los Angeles. The airline might not be willing to sell you a seat at a low fare bucket if you just want to fly between San Diego and Los Angeles, while they may be willing to sell it to you if you’re flying that segment in conjunction with a flight between Los Angeles and Sydney. The logic is that there’s more revenue potential that way, so they don’t want to sell out that short flight and then have someone not book a more lucrative flight because there’s no availability for the connector flight.

There are all kinds of versions of this, though that’s the simplest example I can come up with.

Qatar Airways often uses married segment logic, so I assumed that was it. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case. I then pulled up Cairo to Sydney availability, and it showed availability on both flights in business class. Despite that, it still won’t price.

QR-Fare-7

For now we should mark this as “developing.” I think a lot of us would be quick to assume that maybe Qatar Airways is getting rid of cheap premium fares out of Cairo. However, if that were the case they would have just eliminated the discounted fares, as opposed to all business class fares. There were still plenty of expensive tickets, as pricey as out of other markets. But you can’t even book full fare business class with the current “issue.”

Hmmmm…

What do you make of the situation with Qatar Airways’ business class fares out of Cairo?

Comments

  1. I’m guessing regulatory. The Egyptian government may limit the price of business class fares to a certain % of coach fares, which is why they are consistently cheap. Qatar didn’t want to charge that little but legally couldn’t charge more so they just zeroed out the inventory.

  2. This may have to do with the exchange rate. There is a big difference now between official exchange rate and black market rates for all currencies. They may want to limit their currency losses.

  3. There is intermittent available showing up from today onwards on CAI-NYC; Mondays seem to be especially open but oddly many days are completely closed off in J when searching as a through fare. Can’t get a valid fare to quote though. That is, however, until July onwards, when there is no problem quoting a J fare CAI-DOH-NYC-DOH-CAI (and quite low at USD$1230). Sounds to me like they’re restructuring tariffs for a particular season meaning downtime until they’re back up and running.

  4. Oh no…that sux. I loved the CAI-DOH-MIA flights. It was a good deal and worked out for me just fine. I hope they still keep the CMN-DOH-USA routes at their good rates.

  5. Currency repatriation issues. Limiting exposure to having currency stuck in Egypt at this time.

  6. When you book CAI – ZRH – LAX or other similar routes with Swiss, you can only select Economy or Business, but never First.

  7. I think it’s just the dates you’re looking at. Maybe May is a holiday period or something in Egypt?? Excuse the straight copy paste. CAI-NYC ~$1240 rtn in June.

    WED 01JUN16 CAIRO /NEW YORK CIT *QR
    ** QATAR AIRWAYS – SN ** 39 WE 01JUN 0000
    1 CAI DOH 01/2010 2330 QR1302 F9 P6 AC Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9#77LC*E
    2 JFK 02/0240 0915 QR 703 J9 C6 D4 I3 RC Y9 B9 H9 K9#359C*E
    3 CAI DOH 01/2010 2330 QR1302 F4 P0 AC Y9 B9 H9 K9 M5 LC#77LC*E
    4 JFK 02/0815 1500 QR 701 J4 C0 D0 I0 R0 Y9 B9 H9 K9#77WC*E
    5 CAI DOH 01/1355 1715 QR1304 F9 P7 A3 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9#77WC*E
    6 JFK 02/0240 0915 QR 703 J9 C7 D5 I3 RC Y9 B9 H9 K9#359C*E
    7 CAI DOH 01/1355 1715 QR1304 F4 P0 A0 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9#77WC*E
    8 JFK 02/0815 1500 QR 701 J4 C0 D0 I0 R0 Y9 B9 H9 K9#77WC*E

    MON 20JUN16 NEW YORK CIT/CAIRO *QR
    ** QATAR AIRWAYS – SN ** 58 MO 20JUN 0000
    1 JFK DOH 20/1115#0645 QR 704 J9 C9 D9 I9 R5 Y9 B9 H9 K9#359C*E
    2 CAI 21/0915 1225 QR1303 F9 P9 A9 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9#77WC*E
    3 JFK DOH 20/1115#0645 QR 704 J9 C9 D9 I7 R5 Y9 B9 H9 K9#359C*E
    4 CAI 21/1430 1740 QR1301 F9 P9 A7 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M4 LC#77WC*E
    5 JFK DOH 20/2200#1735 QR 702 J0 C0 D0 I0 R0 Y9 B0 H0 K0#77WC*E
    6 CAI 22/0915 1225 QR1303 F0 P0 A0 Y9 B0 H0 K0 M0 LC#333C*E
    7 JFK DOH 20/2200#1735 QR 702 J0 C0 D0 I0 R0 Y7 B0 H0 K0#77WC*E
    8 CAI 22/1430 1740 QR1301 F0 P0 A0 Y7 B0 H0 K0 M0 LC#332C*E

    1. QR 1302 A 01JUN CAIDOH HS1 2010 2330 O E WE 1
    2. QR 703 R 02JUN DOHJFK HS1 0240 0915 O E TH 1
    3. QR 704 R 20JUN JFKDOH HS1 1115 #0645 O E MO 2
    4. QR 1303 A 21JUN DOHCAI HS1 0915 1225 O E TU 2
    >

    >FQ:USD
    PSGR FARE TAXES TOTAL PSG DES
    FQG 1 USD 797.00 445.96 1242.96 ADT

  8. @Lucky

    I am getting plenty of availability in I, D, J and even R from CAI to MIA in Sabre GDS.

    20JUL DEPARTURE DATE—–LAST DAY TO PURCHASE 25APR/2359
    BASE FARE EQUIV AMT TAXES/FEES/CHARGES TOTAL
    1- EGP9460.00 USD1065.00 449.56XT USD1514.56ADT
    XT 264.40YQ 8.00YR 35.60US 5.50YC
    7.00XY 3.96XA 5.60AY 45.00EG
    33.80XK 25.00QH 5.60JK 1.00EQ
    4.60PZ 4.50XF
    9460.00 1065.00 449.56 1514.56TTL
    ADT-01 RJR1P4NE
    CAI QR X/DOH QR MIA528.49QR X/DOH QR CAI528.49NUC1056.98
    END ROE8.95 XFMIA4.5
    NON END/CHNG PENALTIES/AS PER RULE
    VALIDATING CARRIER – QR
    CAT 15 SALES RESTRICTIONS FREE TEXT FOUND – VERIFY RULES
    BAG ALLOWANCE -CAIMIA-02P/QR/EACH PIECE UP TO 70 POUNDS/32
    KILOGRAMS
    BAG ALLOWANCE -MIACAI-02P/QR/EACH PIECE UP TO 70 POUNDS/32
    KILOGRAMS
    CARRY ON ALLOWANCE ‡
    *A«
    NO NAMES
    1 QR1302A 20JUL W CAIDOH*SS1 810P 1130P /DCQR /E
    MANDATORY APIS REQUIRED UNDER DOCS DOCO DOCA
    2 QR 777R 21JUL Q DOHMIA*SS1 800A 420P /DCQR /E
    MANDATORY APIS REQUIRED UNDER DOCS DOCO DOCA
    3 QR 778R 01AUG M MIADOH*SS1 805P 520P 02AUG T /DCQR /E
    MANDATORY APIS REQUIRED UNDER DOCS DOCO DOCA
    4 QR1301A 03AUG W DOHCAI*SS1 230P 540P /DCQR /E
    MANDATORY APIS REQUIRED UNDER DOCS DOCO DOCA

  9. Did you check the economy flights too? If they’re not booking either than it’s probably a glitch

  10. @Randy I dont think it’s a loophole. When you buy these tickets, you start travel in Cairo, according to the ticket. If youre not originating in Cairo, you’d need a separate ticket to get to Cairo. It’d be a loophole if JFK-DOH-CAI-DOH-JFK was cheap because you purchased tickets on QR’s Egypt website that had an error the forex rate or something.

  11. I just now issued a business class ticket from Cairo to Kuala Lumpur on Qatar Airways travelling on 27 Apr and return on 12 May for USD1050 without any problem at all.

  12. There is a good demand always on flights from Cairo to the far east on Economy and Business class as well on Qatar Airways and specially on business which usually the cheapest comparing to other airlines like Emirates and Etihad…..just you need to subscribe to their news letter and followup on their promotions.

  13. I just saw the same thing last week on a ATH-DEL itinerary. I’m already booked on QR, but I wanted to see what the pricing is like. There weren’t any seats available (same error message you got), but checking the seatmap on our reservation shows tons of open seats.

  14. @David W
    The loophole (as Lucky does it) is to buy a ticket from CAI, and then a return for say 9 months later. You use a reward to get to CAI initially. The return ticket is now a flight from USA to CAI, but if you want to return earlier you pay the $150-200 change fee to move it up. You then buy another RT CAI-USA and USA-CAI for say 1 day after you returned from that first ticket. You are basically using the USA-CAI segment of the first ticket and then the CAi-USA segment of the second ticket for a RT. Then keep the process going.

  15. It looks like an availability issue. I just saw the availabilty of a business class fare from CAI-JFK offered, However, the CAI-DOH sector is in first class. But the fare seems low comparatively

  16. Everyone,

    I just checked Google flights and all longhair QR space seems to be back! What a relief. In addition, the costs have not raised at all, so it must have just been a computer issue.

  17. For what is it worth I just got off of the CAI-DOH-DFW route in BC/FC yesterday and can say every upfront seat was taken. Y was at least 80%+ full. It appeared to me most were business men. When I bought the round trip it was an insane $1,800 versus over $7000 if a flew the opposite route.

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