I booked QSuites, but could have been smarter about it


I’ve been planning a trip to Africa with my wife to visit a friend in Cape Town and to stay at the JW Marriott Masai Mara luxury safari lodge in Kenya.  When I learned that Qatar Qsuites was widely available between New York and Doha, I jumped on it.  I don’t for a second regret booking the award, but I slightly regret how I did it…

a man and woman sitting at a table with food and tvs

British Airways charges only 70,000 Avios (points) to fly one way business class between North America and Doha.  To fly onward to South Africa, they tack on another 45,000 points.  Meanwhile AA charges the same 70,000 points to fly to Doha, but they add only another 5,000 points to fly onward to South Africa if you book the segments together on a single award.

The awards that were available between JFK and Doha were not visible on AA.com, but they could be found on BA.com or qatarairways.com.  I find BA.com easier to use, so I did my initial searches there and found award space from New York to Doha, then onward to Cape Town, and later for Nairobi to Doha and Doha to New York… all for the dates I wanted.  Awesome!

In order to save miles, I decided to contact AA to see if I could book the awards with my AA miles.  A phone call indicated that it would be at least an hour before I could talk with a person, so I tried online chat instead.  That worked great.  A rep answered my questions quickly.  He indicated that he was able to see the award space from JFK to Doha, but not the onward space to Cape Town.  In the heat of the moment, I had him go ahead and book us for that first segment for 70,000 miles per person.  For the return (Nairobi to Doha to New York), he was able to see both segments and so I had him book that too for 75,000 miles per person.  Afterwards, I used 45,000 BA Avios per person to book the missing leg: Doha to Cape Town in Qatar business class.  I will figure out later how we’ll get from Cape Town to Nairobi (but it’s worth noting that if the award is available, and you don’t mind going waaaay out of your way, AA charges only 35,000 miles to fly from Cape Town to Doha to Nairobi in business class!).

I wasn’t sure at first if the segment between New York and Doha was in QSuites, but once I was able to choose seats, it was clear that it was.  Awesome!  I haven’t yet flown QSuites but I’ve heard and read many times how fantastic it is.  I can’t wait!  So, I’m thrilled that I jumped on this short term opportunity while it was available.  I’m less thrilled about how I booked it.

Consider a few things…

  1. I’ve been trying to rebuild my stash of AA miles (which have become my favorite miles in recent times)
  2. I have many more Amex Membership Rewards points than I know what to do with
  3. Amex currently has a 30% transfer bonus to British Airways

Given the above, it’s obvious that I should have booked the JFK to Doha segment for 70,000 BA Avios rather than 70,000 AA miles per person.  With the current transfer bonus, that would have cost me only 54,000 Amex points per person!

Less obvious was how I should have booked the return.  I booked Nairobi to Doha to New York for 75,000 AA miles per person.  With British Airways the same flights would have cost 35,000 + 70,000 = 105,000 Avios per person.  With the transfer bonus, that would have been 81,000 Amex points per person.  Which should I have used 75,000 AA miles or 81,000 Amex points per person?  There’s no single right answer here.  In a vacuum, sure I’d value Amex points higher and so AA miles would be the obvious choice.  But what about in my situation where I have more Amex points that I know what to do with and I’m actively trying to earn more AA miles?  If I could press redo, I’d book the whole trip with Avios.

What would you do?

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Hope you actually get Qsuites. I booked and flew in June and got product switched to old product out of Philadelphia, oversized lounge chairs and mediocre service. Overall I was not impressed with Qatar.


I would have used the Avios. AA miles are pretty hard to earn when you’ve signed up for most of their cards (as I have) and don’t want to bother manufacturing spend.


Make sure AA got the checked bag allowance right on your tickets. Long thread on Flyertalk about a known issue with AA not including any checked bag allowance on Qatar awards.


How risk tolerant are you to see if you cancel the AA awards if it’ll go back into inventory to book on QR?


AA awards are cancellable for free, so yiu can cancel thise and rebook with BA.There is always a risk though that seats will not go back to the inventory. Would be a nice DP 🙂


Interested to see your thoughts on Qsuites after flying it. It’s my favorite Business class product out.

It seems Avios may have been the better choice, but you have plenty and will probably find a screaming deal sooner or later to use them.


what was the tax in $ difference between Avios (ridiculous) V/s AA


Love these types of posts where you guys share your missteps. We’ve obviously all been there with both little and big regrets on how we did something in this points and miles world.

Actually, on that note, it would be fun to have you guys write a post on your “biggest blunders” while playing the game. Whether missing a key card SUB, using the wrong card at a key moment, missing a key stack, booking travel in less than optimal ways (like this post), blowing your points on a terrible flight or stay, etc., etc., oftentimes sharing our pains with each other helps us all feel better, knowing we’re not the “only one” making mistakes. I bet it’d be a fun, and cathartic, post to read, especially with readers invited to share their own biggest flubs.

Jim Lovejoy

Agree, but should invite readers in comments to add their blunders.
I have some that now that I know better I won’t repeat, but I’d like to learn from other’s mistakes as well as mine.


I thought on BA… USA to DOHA to South Africa is only 90k for business class if it’s all one award. I’ve never booked separate awards for this routing unless it changed recently.


Yes, I remember there was an article recently which said BA has fixed the pricing to match how Qatar does it instead of simply adding up segments.


I’m getting the same error


Yes, I’m showing 90k for South Africa and 85k for the Maldives. I’ve used both before with no issues. I normally use BA over AA when we need a lap infant since they have a standard policy for adding one.


Assuming there was no ridiculous YQ I would have definitely booked through BA.

AA miles are much harder to come by.


I had a similar situation where I had MIA TO DOH booked with AA miles 70 k and when I saw this sale from JFK TO DOH with British Avios I canceled my AA flight as it’s harder to earn AA then AMEX

Larry K

Would have been interesting to see if any othe one world program, including Qatar, would have combined the outbound as one award.

Dave H

This is what I was thinking.. shouldn’t the whole qatar award be 95k jfk to cpt? I feel like I’m still missing something when it comes to using BA avios vs Qatar avios..


From experience booking via AA for Qatar metal, I might now prefer booking with Qatar directly to minimize complications when a simple flight time change results in a new ticket # (which AA instantly initiated) but which QR system can not see.

No resolution over phone with QR reps in giving them the new ticket # that AA issued (4x HUCA).

Before I flew to JNB, I got an old-school hardcopy ticket from AA with the new ticket #. The QR rep at JNB could not check me in. It took a Senior CS agent to over-ride system to correct it (using my hard-copy ticket as proof).


Yes!!! This literally just happened to us last month. Interestingly also on a route to and from JNB from US. I had checked our reservations almost daily for a month before our travels and everything looked good with confirmed seats on both the AA and Qatar app. Once we approached the counter to check in for our MIA-DOH-JNB flight the agent said our tickets were showing as “E” or exchanged and she couldn’t check us in. We had to call AA and get the new ticket number and even with that number it was a hassle to try to connect it with the existing PNR. 40 minutes of stress thinking we weren’t going to make it. I tried looking for more DPs on this same issue on flyertalk and other forums but didn’t get too far. I have redeemed AA for qsuites to Maldives in the past with schedule changes and never had this issue until now. I agree with you, moving forward I’ll use avios to book QR.


Can you make a post of how you are going to get from Nairobi to Masai Mara? I’ve been looking into that and havent been able to figure out how to book that flight.

Sally Mae

10k miles through Ejib airlines


What is Ejib airlines, and what kind of miles? There is very vague information on how to book that flight online.


But aren’t the taxes on AA considerably cheaper?
I am not sure the difference between Qatar, and BA, but the difference between Qatar and AA was to the tune of $500+ for two people when I booked Qsuites.


They are NOT taxes! The difference is due to carrier-imposed surcharges.


Taxes and fees is how they are usually described, but a tax by any other name is still a tax.
1. a burdensome charge, obligation, duty, or demand
2. to charge
I am ok with you labeling it whatever you choose.


You could have also booked through Qatar directly for 95,000 and could have even taken advantage of the 30% transfer bonus from Amex on BA since QR uses Avios now. This would have brought your total points down to ~74,000 which is even cheaper than AA on the miles side. I believe there is a difference on the taxes though.


My taxes were just below $600 direct through Qatar when I booked for two people one way.