Rwandair And Qatar Airways Link Their Rewards Schemes

On Monday, July 12th, Rwandair, the flag carrier of Rwanda, announced that it would be entering a partnership with Qatar Airways. This new deal will see the two airlines’ loyalty programs working together, a new collaboration that will allow customers of each airline to both earn and spend the points of their respective carrier’s program with the other.

Rwandair a330
Rwandair’s long-haul fleet consists of two Airbus A330s: One is a -200, and the other is a -300. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

“Our partnership with RwandAir opens up a world of possibilities for the customers of both airlines, allowing them to discover exciting destinations.” -H.E. Mr Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive, Qatar Airways Group

Linking loyalty programs

With this week’s announcement, members of RwandAir Dream Miles and Qatar Airways Privilege Club will have access to each other’s destinations, with the opportunity to ‘earn and burn’ points across the carriers’ reciprocal route networks. It’s a fairly easy-to-understand concept, but here is how the partnership will benefit travelers:

  • RwandAir Dream Miles members will be able to fly to Qatar Airways destinations using miles earned by flights bought through RwandAir. With over 140 destinations on six continents, much of the world is now accessible with Dream Miles.
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club members will have the ability to earn miles on RwandAir’s flights, both within Africa and on long-haul routes. The carrier’s higher-profile destinations include New York and London.

“Customer loyalty is of huge importance to both RwandAir and Qatar Airways. We both strive to put the customer experience first and give recognition to our most frequent fliers.” -Yvonne Makolo, CEO, RwandAir

Qatar Airways has been striking deals with numerous airlines. Prior to this agreement, it had announced a codeshare agreement with Alaska Airlines. Photo: Rwandair

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Rwandair loyalists will benefit more

With this new ability, travelers loyal to Rwandair will have that same loyalty honored at Qatar Airways- a huge benefit with the latter airline’s significant global reach. Therefore, it’s fairly clear that travelers loyal to Rwandair (presumably mostly residents of Rwanda) will benefit the most from this deal.

Indeed, if someone living in Rwanda (primarily Kigali) chooses to travel to any destination in the Middle East, India, East Asia, or Oceania, Qatar Airways would now be the most obvious choice. The Qatari carrier makes long-haul travel simple with a single stop at its hub at Doha’s Hamad International Airport.

On the other side, travelers loyal to Qatar Airways may now find that Rwandair is their airline of choice when it comes to accessing East and West Sub-Saharan Africa.

Qatar Airways 787
Qatar Airways flies to over 140 destinations. Photo: Qatar Airways

Will loyalty status also be honored?

While it’s been made clear that members of each program can earn and spend miles on flights operated by the other airline, the mutual recognition of loyalty benefits was one function that was left out.

It’s standard these days to offer perks to your most frequent flyers. These often take the form of privileges and benefits at each membership tier and can include additional baggage allowance, lounge access, and priority boarding. With the two membership programs cooperating, it would have been fantastic if mutual recognition is an included feature- although status recognition tends to be more of a given when it comes to fully established airline alliances.

Simple Flying reached out to Rwandair on the topic. The airline responded saying:

“Currently the benefit for is solely based around earning miles and redeeming a free ticket, while additional benefits, such as lounge access, extra luggage and upgrades do not currently apply”

What do you think about this new partnership? Will it benefit you directly? Let us know in the comments.