Is This Business Class Fare Worth It?

OMAAT family, I need your advice.

Later this year I am planning to commence another three (plus) month extended trip, like I did last year. There are all sorts of destinations planned, which I am looking forward to sharing with you in due course. Early on in the trip I’ll be visiting Morocco with my partner.

While I’ve visited almost every country in Europe, I am yet to visit Northern Africa, but very keen to. Tunisia has also been on my list of considerations.

Tunis, Tunisia

From Morocco we are then looking to go to Eastern Africa, either Tanzania, the Seychelles, or both. I have sponsored a child in Tanzania for five years and now have the opportunity to visit him, which I think would truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Ben’s recent visit to the Seychelles has also sparked my interest. We love beautiful, secluded beaches and my partner is fluent in French, which makes visiting French speaking countries easy and enjoyable.

Now to get from Northwest Africa down to Eastern Africa isn’t easy, or cheap. There’s no $20 Ryanair flight (I would certainly take it if there was!). I’ve been looking at a few economy revenue fares which are around the $450 mark. Flying into the Tanzanian resort island of Zanzibar seems to be the cheapest:

I’ve also considered using Star Alliance miles, as they have a pretty good presence in Northern and Eastern Africa, although only Turkish flies to Seychelles. Possible routings could consist of:

I could spring for business class for a few hundred dollars more but they are likely to be on Ethiopian or EgyptAir, both of which I have flown and am not in a huge hurry to do again. And they will be on 737s with recliner seats, which seems like a bit of a waste for business class.

Alternatively I could consider Turkish Airlines, but given the obscurity of the origin and destination, I would likely have to overnight in Istanbul, which requires a fairly expensive tourist visa for an Australian passport holder. I also don’t really want to drag my partner through a 24 hour, four sector marathon, even in business class.

I’ve been playing around on Google Flights, as I do every single day, trying loads of different routing options, when I stumbled across what I consider to be a ‘fairly good’ value Qatar Airways business class fare from Tunis to the Seychelles.

I was also considering visiting Tunisia after Morocco, so have no problems flying from there.

Now, £990/$1300 for a one-way fare is expensive, I get that. But this fare has a lot going for it:

  • Qatar Airways has arguably the world’s best business class, even when it’s not QSuites
  • Both flights should have fully-flat beds
  • My partner has never flown Qatar, and was very jealous of my ex-EU QSuites trip last year
  • I would earn Avios and generous tier points on a oneworld revenue fare

Now you all know I travel a bit differently to Ben and many other travel bloggers. I look for value wherever I can.

If we go to the Seychelles, we will be staying at an affordable Airbnb – I would never dream of spending $1,000 a night on a luxury hotel room unless it was my honeymoon. I love reading trip reports of people who do and it looks wonderful, but it’s just not our style. We would rather travel for three months frugally, than have a one month first class, five star experience.

I work full-time at my ‘day job,’ and then write an article everyday for this site on top of that in my spare time, and I’m carefully saving my money for the trip.

So booking this Qatar fare would be an extravagance. But it’s something I know we would both enjoy immensely. So I’ve tried to decide at whether this fare is worth the price that is being charged, especially compared with the alternatives, given this is an obscure route. I’m keen for your opinions. Some considerations:

  • I can’t redeem points at more than 1p per point value, especially as AAdvantage does not allow intra-region awards via a more expensive region (if you can think of a way, please let me know in the comments!)
  • It’s flying between two fairly obscure airports
  • For a one-way premium fare on a truly five star airline, it seems like fairly good value
  • It’s about 10 hours in excellent business class, so about GBP90 / USD120 per hour

Bottom line

I’m undecided.

This isn’t going to be a cheap journey, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable it is. I don’t like to waste money but at the same time I would really love to fly on Qatar again because I know how good it will be.

Do you think this Qatar Airways business class fare is worth the purchase price?

Comments

  1. What about a one way ticket via AsiaMiles (before the 22 June changes) for 45k points? You can even do a stopover in DOH.

  2. Hey James
    Although you say you are questioning whether or not this is “worth it”, you have already made up your mind and are just looking for validation of your decision.
    So, man up and own your decision!

  3. I struggle to justify spending money on business class for a flight that short. The flights are only 5 hours, if you can’t sit in a regular economy seat for 5 hours than you have greater problems in your life to worry about.

    Taking into account the meal services, assent and decent time you won’t really be able to utilise the full flat seat anyway, so why bother paying for it? You’re not even getting Q-Suites.

    I say save the money for a flight that can actually justify flying business class. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

  4. Maybe this will help. I will use north america for example, but I could use Europe as well.

    I am planning a trip to North America. I want to visit New York and then Boston. And then Lima Peru.

    (for purposes of comparison: Tunis to Seychelles is 4080 miles, Boston to Lima is 3770 miles).

    Do you think its worth it to spend $1300 to fly business class to Lima via Los Angeles? Or should I pay $400 to fly coach to Bogota via Houston?

    How can this question be answered?

    Do you want to go to Lima or Bogota?

    Would you pay $1300 one way biz class for a flight from LHR to ORD (same distance)? Wouldn’t that depend on what the cost differential would be over coach on LHR to ORD?

  5. I don’t know if it is worth it or not, but I wouldn’t do it.
    you can go to Seychelles anytime. but Tanzania is a special place.

    Seychelles is great. It’s an amazing island/beach destination.
    there are hordes of amazing island/beach destinations.
    and they speak French (as do I)

    you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a child you sponsor.
    Tanzania is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as the Serengeti (and Masai Mara on the Kenya side)

    there are few to no places on Earth like the Serengeti. And Mt. Kilimanjaro is amazing.

    I don’t exaggerate when I say that the Serengeti was life changing for me. there is nowhere on the Earth like it. (not even South Africa, Botswana, etc)

    the Serengeti can be expensive (and I know you want to keep things reasonable)
    but it can be done for not-outrageous amounts of money.
    (maybe not during the Wildebeast migration, which is truly awe inspiring, but other times of year for sure)

    Take the money you would spend on that Qatar flight and put it towards a trip to your sponsor chid, Mt Kilimanjaro, and the Serengeti.

    Just check and see what season you’d be in at the Serengeti… there are better/worse seasons to go.

    disclaimer: I’m not sure how important public displays of affection are for you and your partner. I doubt you’d have any issues on Safari or in any of the tourist areas of Tanzania… (there were gay people in our party: no issues whatsoever)
    Tanzania is NOT Kenya… but it’s also not the UK or Australia.

  6. @ James
    I’ve also considered using Star Alliance miles, as they have a pretty good presence in Northern and Eastern Africa, although only Turkish flies to Seychelles.

    ET flies ADD-SEZ, as does KQ NBO-SEZ both likely on equipment that is not that glamorous. Have you considered /priced out Joon nonstop CDG-SEZ?

  7. I was in a similar situation. I will be travelling from Asia to Europe in July, and I found a reasonable though not cheap Qatar business class fare (~1860 USD round trip incl. 2 sectors in Qsuites). I normally travel with little budget (staying in hostels/cheap airbnb and always fly econ), but since it’ll be a while before I travel long haul again, and I know it will be a great experience, I bite the bullet and bought the ticket. But I also told myself this is a rare splurge, and I will have to start saving up again after this trip and go back to econ for future travels. So I think you could spend more this time if you think it’ll be an excellent experience, but have to set a limit, otherwise it can become a convenient excuse for you to waste money.

  8. Personally, I would fly economy and save the money for a “proper” Qatar experience. For I tiny little extra, you may get return to Southeast Asia from Europe with Qatar (and more “generous” TP). Otherwise, I would feel: “well, it was nice, but not good value for money!”.

  9. Hell no.
    All the statements you make about looking for value and considering paying that much are in direct contridiction

  10. Are you serious? You work for a travel blog and I am sure this just a small business expense. Just book the ticket and don’t look for our validation.

  11. Having just done my first Sydney to Rome via Doha on Qatar, and return from Milan – so that’s on an A330, a 777, an A380 and a 787, I’d agree that it is one of, if not ‘the best’ business class out there, and that is not including Qsuites – so definitely, book it Danno!

  12. I would do it. For the simple reason that I hate flying on narrow bodies if it can be avoided; EC for more than a few hours is to be avoided as well.

    So it comes down to affordability. If you have the money, do it. If you don’t then no choice but to fly a 737 bug.

  13. You are awesome James.

    “I have sponsored a child in Tanzania for five years and now have the opportunity”.

    unlike the fraud that is trump charity.

    # Trump Is total scum
    # tits

  14. I’d advise definitely no. You’re a young man and it’s not a super long flight. Save your money for better things, or invest it for the long run. I think you’d be glad you did after the flight was over.

  15. Personally, I go economy for anything less than 6 hours. Think NY-LA. So I would skip it. As Tobs said, save it for a nive long haul where you will actually appreciate the bed and service.

  16. Why don’t you consider a return fare? It seems to me that the one way fare is almost identical to the return fare. QR generally allows reverse open jaws, i.e. TUN-DOH-SEZ-DOH-???.

    As Tomas stated, another option is AF/Joon, however, as far as I know, they do not permit reverse open jaws.

  17. Bens philosophy is we tend to overspend on material things and underspend on experiences. I’m a good bit older than you guys and I basically agree once the important material things are covered.

    So I’d say do it….

    But I’d also recommend not inflating expectations….what you are really doing is buying your way out of an unpleasant travel day and setting the stage for what should be a magical time, even/especially if not lavish, by the Indian Ocean. Don’t expect that the Qatar flights will be fantastic.

    And once you have paid don’t continue chewing over the decision—-“am I making a mistake?” “Was that worth it?”

    Just do it and be content with a splurge that may or may not prove to be worth the value but you’ll be more experienced either way.

  18. Uh oh. Debit’s off his meds again. Poor chap has a massive case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. #MAGA

  19. @James

    As Hannah already said, you’ve made up your mind and you’re looking for us to tell you it’s a good decision. This article is fake news!!

  20. Oh gosh!

    James, the photo you put for Tunis is the city of Sidi Bou Said, not Tunis.

    I had said that to Ben, who had corrected it in its post in the past…

    😉

  21. Dude life is short. If you can reasonably afford it, do it.
    Money comes and goes, but you seem excited and, more importantly, you think your partner will enjoy it. Can’t put a price on that.

    Anything could happen tomorrow or the day after that flight. You won’t remember the semi-shitty 5.5-hour economy flight that you saved a couple hundred bucks on (what’s that, a few articles?). You might have something to talk about when you splurged a little on a wonderful experience.

  22. Your partner, what does she say? She surely has a vote, doesn’t she? I would ask her before asking the internet trolls.

  23. James,
    You said you wanted an adventure and you have 3 months to travel. You also said your partner speaks fluent French. Unlike Lucky, you don’t need to pay / have luxury.

    Well I suggest you go from Morocco to Tunisia. There are some great sites, particularly outside of Tunis worth visiting and the people are lovely. In neighbouring Algeria, the capital Algiers is a little run down but with a paint job you could imagine how magnificent it was…
    Then take Tunisair to Abidjan… another awesome place to visit and then Rwandair to Kigali (do stay and visit) and then onto either Nairobi or Dar es Salaam… they cover both! Why not try Zanzibar before the Seychelles? Tunisair is well intentioned and if you avoid their lounge, you will enjoy the trip.

  24. I always look for best value instead of lowest price. I’d take the Qatar flights in this situation. If you’re on a tight budget, there are always other ways to economize here and there on a long trip like this.

  25. Absolutely NOT. This should be 2 trips. Combining Tunisia and Morocco makes sense and can be easily done in economy on Air Maroc and/or Tunis Air ( if that’s what it’s called these days). Take a biography of Joe Orton with you ( and/or his Diaries). No need for J class.
    The boring islands should be done at another, later ,time.

  26. I regularly pay my own business class fares, and this seems a little steep (if I’m understanding correctly it’s about £1000 for a 5 hr flight).

    Unless it will contribute significantly to earning status that you know you will use, I would steer clear and wait for a classic Qatar sale to blow £1,500 and get 4 x longhaul Qatar flights.

  27. This is not a comment on the flight per se, but I would 100% advise you to go to Tanzania and Zanzibar instead of or in addition to the Seychelles. Zanzibar actually has some great hotels, a really interesting cuisine, lots of history and f—ing incredible architecture, and some places to hang out on the beach.

    I also loved Dar-es-salaam for a few days, in part because it’s quite safe for a big African capital, and is one of few that I’ve felt totally fine taking public busses and strolling around.

    On the flight: It seems pretty steep to me given that there are plenty of good-value ways to redeem miles for QR business class, and I’m sure you can find a way to take your partner on it using miles at some point.

    I’m sure you know this, but Royal Air Maroc flies to NBO and you can redeem Iberia avios on it. From there, it’s pretty easy to get to anywhere you’re considering. Not luxurious at all! But good value.

  28. First off, I think perhaps you might consider a literacy test for readers wanting to comment to avoid the posts from people who clearly haven’t read through the article.

    Secondly: So booking this Qatar fare would be an extravagance. But it’s something I know we would both enjoy immensely.

    There are two value judgments in there that, obviously, only you guys can make for yourselves. Me? I wouldn’t pay a premium of close to $1,000 to avoid economy in a case like this (I realize the cost difference might be less for you because of the deductibility of the airfare as a business expense).

    Finally, if I understand your conundrum correctly, taking the Qatar flight would mean skipping visiting Tanzania? That sounds like the one stop on your trip in which you have some unusual entree into the culture. Again, for me, personally, I would arrange the rest of my trip around that visit — not around a consideration of my airplane seat.

  29. @James ah, thanks for clarifying. I guess I still see that as £1,000 for essentially one long-haul’s worth of time, but in a less enjoyable package of 2 shorter flights. Personally I would save my money on this one and again look out for something more in the 1,500 range that gave me a proper long-haul return.

  30. If it’s $1300 for 10 hrs flight in biz one way, then that works out to $2600 rt, which isn’t that bad.

  31. @Larry

    I agree with your point
    the question asked was circuitous

    James began by discussing how much he values economizing and how personal a trip to Tanzania could be… but then he jumps into a question about Business class to Seychelles.

    The question as I see it is two fold

    1. Should James go to the Seychelles or Tanzania
    2. If the Seychelles, should he go in business class

    My answer to question #1 is that he should go to Tanzania
    Given that, question 2 is moot

    James may need to discuss in more detail why he would choose Seychelles over Tanzania
    Just because of a flight?

  32. You can also choose to fly TK biz for TUN-IST-SEZ for a tad cheaper than QR? But I’d still choose QR unless I want *A miles.

  33. @ JRMW – I will definitely be going to mainland Tanzania to do a safari and visit my sponsor child.
    I am deciding whether to also do Zanzibar, Seychelles or both.
    If I want to fly QR J it will be cheaper to fly into Seychelles than Zanizbar.

  34. Avios and TP sounds reasonable. I would then consider if it is day flight (to truly enjoy Qatar experience) or night service where you won’t get much but great sleep (depends what you prefer, I fly premium cabins to enjoy the service, I dont sleep much). How about OW to CAI in Y and then taking premium down to your destination? Might be cheaper.

  35. Hi James, Qatar is our favourite airline in biz and perfect if collecting TP but they have so many good fares from Europe I would save it for a later day. Did you Check Oman Air in BIz ? They now fly from Casablanca and often to Zanzibar with great fares.
    I would prefer to fly from Tunis to Europe and take Swiss via Zurich to Dar Es Salam. Booked on miles and more it is just 70.000 miles and around 400€ return in business with great availability. We took the flight in march had a great crew and you can take the ferry from Dar to Zanzibar that just takes about 90 minutes for 50€ or a 20 minutes flight for 120€. you will enjoy Zanzibar

  36. Given that James would gladly fly Ryanair if it were an option, why is Qatar business even a consideration? James says he is “carefully saving money.” How is it that he is willing to spend over $1,300 (per person) for two five-hour segments in what is not even Qatar’s best product, but he wouldn’t spend $1,000 (combined) on a luxurious hotel room? Perhaps he should pose this quandary (created to induce reader engagement; yes, I fell for it) to his sponsor child. Surely he, too, must have an opinion on the relative merits of Qatar business versus some other economy product on this route.

  37. @James — I always love your posts. Just a minor quibble: if “everyday” is an adjective, then it’s fine as one word (like “an everyday occurrence”). But if it’s not an adjective – as in your use above – then it’s two words.

  38. You’d get around 6500 avios and 280 tier points for these flights if you credit to British Airways. That’s almost Bronze/Ruby with one 1 way flight (or halfway to Silver/Sapphire). Depending on your other travel plans for the rest of your tier point collecting year his could be very worthwhile just for that alone

  39. You also say its not Qatar’s best business class which is true though since you are travelling in a couple all you need is 2-2-2 fully flat (which is almost better for a couple) and then you can enjoy Qatar’s extensive soft product

  40. I travel tons of business and first class for work and I earn lots of miles I usually then redeem for business and first class family trips (plus I am an avid manufacturing spender). The only time I thought it was truly worth spending money for business class was when traveling with my infant daughter and toddler. Honestly I do not care about othe passengers’ comfort – I cared about my children’s. And letting them play on a lay flat bed and then easily fall asleep was worthwhile. Otherwise, at 35 and 24 my wife and I feel like we are young enough to slum it in couscous if it needs be and use the spares cash for something else. Business class is nice but it’s not something you can’t live without. On the other hand, I couldn’t imagine flying coach to London from Dallas and going straight into a meeting. That’s when the true value of a business class seat. Ones handy, as it allows me to have a decent meal and a good night’s sleep before a long day of work.

  41. How about redeeming QF points on Emirates? A 7-hour A380 ride and a four hour 777 ride…? One stop via DXB to get from Casablanca to Mahe. Admittedly, cruel fuel surcharges…

  42. Take the economy flight, put the difference toward something for your sponsor child’s community

  43. Well, dunno if Qatar can be justified, but I was in Tunis in January. I very much loved the Palais Bayram in the Medina for accomodations.

  44. Everyone is right regarding Zanzibar.
    It’s a special place, not to be missed!
    James, when you go mix it up between staying 2 nights in StoneTown, then go off to a beach resort.. say Kendwa Rocks Beach Resort. Zanzibar is a big island so you will want to encompass it all. The Afro-Arab vibe is compelling.

  45. Hi James

    I would definitely go for this. You will have enough time to enjoy the lounge as well in Doha. The layout is also perfect for couples. Forget about the negative comments i perfectly understand your principles as i follow something very similar as well :). Seychelles is a VERY special place specifically if you visit the smaller islands( not private). I would certainly go for this qr business with your partner doha lounge seychelles are a perfect combination for a memorable holiday. ( try and seek for flights on one ticket to praslin as well) enjoy 🙂

  46. James! Even better! Get yourself and your partner a flight to Paris from Morocco/Tunis, have a nice romantic couple of days there. Then hop on a 400 eur rtrn fare to Zanzibar on board Turkish Airlines.

  47. I’d like to commend you for sponsoring a child in Tanzania. Is this done through an organization, or directly to the child or it’s family/guardian?

  48. My 2 cent is that you should not squeeze all the destinations into one trip. Intra-Africa flights are much expensive than those between Europe and Africa and they often involve huge detours with poor timings. From Europe to North Africa including Morocco and Tunisia there are so many LCCs flying and a $20 Ryanair flight is not rare. For East Africa there are often ex-EU deals from the ME3 and Gulf Air, either on economy or business classes. As a frugal traveller described by yourself, spliting the trip represents a better value in terms of prices.

    Besides, visiting one destination instead of multiple in one trip allows ample time to discover your destinations in depth. I enjoy reading Lucky’s trip reports but there is no way for me to travel in his style.

    Anyway, enjoy and thanks for your great article as usual!

  49. I’m all for it!

    (Btw, would you post something about AU credit cards and which ones earn best? Would love to see what AU can offer in terms of FF points – and is it really a Qantas world down under? I’m a *A fanboy and my KrisWorld would shatter!)

  50. I always ask “Are the flights overnight or day flights?” If day flights then I would fly coach especially if they’re around 5-6 hours each. If they’re overnight then I would push for biz class – makes it much easier on me in the long run to get some sleep.

    Otherwise day flights I can handle coach or premium economy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *