**Update: 05/14/20 @ 17:35 UTC – Added confirmation from airline**
Qatar Airways has unveiled new booking policies this week that could serve to solve its cashflow crisis. Offering passengers more flexibility than ever before, along with the ability to change destinations within an astounding 5,000 miles, its perhaps the most generous booking offer in the industry to date. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
Travel with confidence
Qatar Airways has announced new booking policies with an impressive level of flexibility for its passengers, in an update it calls “Travel With Confidence.” In the update, the airline acknowledges the need for passengers to trust in their carrier and outlines the ways in which it can do this.
While some of the policies are relatively standard (get a voucher, get a refund), others are jaw-droppingly generous. Not only can passengers change their mind about when they fly, with unlimited, penalty-free date changes, they can also rebook to a different destination within 5,000 miles of the original location.
To put this in perspective, it means you could hold a ticket from Doha to Paris and swap it out for a ticket from Doha to Philadelphia or Chicago. Or, you could book a ticket from Doha to Bangkok, and later swap it for a trip all the way down to Melbourne or Sydney.
It seems insanely generous, and an offer that is almost too good to refuse. There are some strings, but they’re not overly tight. For example, in the terms and conditions, it says you have to book by September 30th, and rebooking fees will be waived if the trip is booked to fly before the end of the year.
From the Qatar Airways website, it wasn’t immediately obvious whether the fare difference would be applied to changes of destinations. We reached out to the airline and can happily confirm that there are no fare differences to pay. Qatar told us,
“As long as the customer completes all travel (out and inbound) by December 31st, 2020 it is free, no fare differences will be charged.”
The new booking policies
Qatar Airways states that anyone who books a ticket between now and the end of September, for travel up to December 31st this year, has a wealth of options available to them if they no longer wish to travel. These are:
- To keep the ticket: Passengers can hold on to their tickets for an extended period, with validity now for two years from the date it was issued.
- To change the date and/or destination: Passengers can make unlimited changes to the date of their travel and can even swap destinations to anywhere within 5,000 miles of their original booking.
- Swap it for Qmiles: Passengers can swap out their ticket for Qmiles to use against future upgrades, flights, baggage, or other extras. This is offered at the competitive rate of 100 Qmiles per $1 of value.
- Take a voucher: As with many other airlines, Qatar is willing to offer a voucher for future travel. As an incentive, the airline is offering a 10% boost over the face value of the ticket.
- Get a refund: There is always the option just to get your money back, but only in the situation where the flight gets canceled.
Few other airlines can come close to the generosity and flexibility on offer with these policies right now. At a time when passengers are reluctant to travel, it’s a clever play by Qatar Airways to get more tickets sold.
A very smart move
Anyone who’s spent any time on social media recently will be acutely aware of the raging anger of many passengers who hold tickets for canceled flights. With airlines desperately trying to conserve cash, many are making it incredibly difficult for passengers to get anything other than a voucher for future travel from them. Cash refunds, it seems, are very hard to come by.
At the same time, passengers are worried about the future situation. They are unsure whether their flights will actually go ahead, and if not whether their money will disappear into an airline black hole. As such, very few are booking flights for the rest of the year, further adding to the cashflow misery of many airlines right now.
Qatar, on the other hand, has presented an ingenious solution that serves to kill two birds with one booking policy. Firstly, their generous rerouting and re-planning options on offer make it highly tempting to make a booking, despite the uncertainty in the travel industry. Secondly, the fact these enticing offers are only valid on tickets booked by the end of September will have many reaching for their wallets right now, not in six months’ time.
It’s a smart move by Qatar, and possibly the most generous booking policies in the history of commercial aviation. Are you going to book? We think we might!