Qatar Airways Cuts Business Fares With Unbundled Basic Ticket

As part of a fare restructuring, Qatar Airways said Monday it is introducing a new, cheaper tier for its premium product. While the airline has yet to announce precise details, passengers purchasing the cheaper R class fare ticket will still travel business class, but will forego lounge access and seat selection.

Qatar Airways COVID-19 testing
Qatar is launching a new scaled-down business class fare. Photo: Getty Images

New and simplified fare structure

Qatar Airways is overhauling its fare structure. While the otherwise communicative airline is yet to issue an official press release on the matter, Executive Traveller reports that Qatar sent an email to booking agents on Monday announcing a new option for business class passengers.

This will allow travelers to secure a spot in the premium section of the cabin for less. The trade-off is that they will not enjoy lounge access or be able to choose their seat ahead of check-in.

“R class fares will not be eligible for lounge access or advance seat selection,” the e-mail read. Qatar further added that more details were to follow in the coming days.

The move is part of what the oneworld alliance member is calling a “new and simplified Fare Families structure.” Qatar says this will cover all travel classes and that it is implementing it to offer a distinct set of services to meet customers’ varying needs.

Simple Flying has reached out to Qatar Airways for further details on the new fare class but was yet to receive a comment at the time of publication.

Qatar business fare unpacked
Qatar Airways is making its business class product available for less, although you won’t be able to choose your suite. Photo: Getty Images

Not the first of the Gulf carriers

Qatar Airways is not the first airline to unpackage its business offering. It is following in the footsteps of Gulf carrier rival Emirates. In June last year, the UAE flag-carrier introduced a fourth tier in business class; the H class fare, intended for select flights. This slightly less costly premium product still allows passengers all of the onboard trimmings, service, and baggage allowance associated with the class.

However, there is no chauffeur transfer service and no lounge access. Seat selection is restricted, and there is no possibility to upgrade to a first class ticket using miles. Furthermore, the “special” business fare means tickets cannot be canceled outright, and (under usual circumstances) an AED600 ($160) fee applies to any changes. Nor does the fare grant the full frequent flyer points normally afforded to business travelers.

emirates and airlink sign agreement
Gulf rival Emirates launched a similar concept in June last year. Photo: Getty Images

People more willing to pay for extra space?

We shall have to wait and see to what detail Qatar’s new premium fare structure will correspond to that of its Dubai-based competitor. It is also difficult to tell if the upgrade to a premium cabin will be worth it without any price point to compare. Meanwhile, if there were ever a time to launch a product that allows people to pay for more distance between themselves and others onboard, this would be it.

Would you be willing to travel business class purely for the onboard experience foregoing all the trimmings and full frequent flyer points? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.