Qatar Business Class: 5+ levels of award availability

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I’ve been doing background research so that I can update “How to find Qatar QSuites award space” and I fell down a rabbit hole. The aforementioned post is out of date because it is currently based on using AA.com to find awards, but Qatar no longer releases many awards to American Airlines so that’s no longer a good approach. Going into this research I thought that Qatar had maybe three levels of award availability: saver space they release to all partners, saver space available only to the tightest partners (like British Airways & Iberia), and flex-space available only for booking via Qatar itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that simple… Via my explorations, I found at least 6 different award availability levels (but two are so similar that I’ve lumped them together). Here’s what I found…

The worst availability goes to AA & Alaska

Via AA, it’s possible to book Qatar business class between North America and Doha for only 70,000 AA miles. Similarly you can book those flights via Alaska Airlines for 70K to 85K miles, depending on the distance flown. Unfortunately, award availability through AA & Alaska (at sub-100K levels) stinks.

There were a number of flights available from Montreal to Doha, but within the U.S… not much at all. I did find this flight from JFK on April 29th via AA:

Alaska showed the same flight but also showed a couple of other options for 150,000 miles one-way. Alaska has access to a huge amount of Qatar award space, but most of it is at astronomical prices. At the 70K to 85K pricing, Alaska seems to have the same dismal access as AA.

The 11:20 am flight can also be booked through JetBlue, Iberia, British Airways, and Qatar for 70K points one-way. Taxes range from $7.65 (JetBlue) to $105 (British Airways). The flight is also available through Virgin Australia Velocity for 92,000 plus $241 in taxes & fees.

JetBlue and others offer more award availability

If you want to fly to Doha from North America, you’ll find far better award availability through JetBlue than through AA or Alaska (in Alaska’s case, that’s if you limit to awards that cost less than 100K).

This expanded availability isn’t limited to JetBlue. You’ll find the flights also with Iberia, BA, Virgin Australia, and Qatar:

  • JetBlue: 70,000 or 80,000 + $7.65
  • Qatar: 70,000 + $99.85
  • Iberia: 70,000 + $99.85
  • British Airways: 70,000 + $105
  • Virgin Australia Velocity: 92,000 to 104,000 + up to $241 in taxes & fees

More availability via 94.5K awards

I found a number of dates where JetBlue didn’t have access to Qatar Business class awards, but these awards were available through Qatar and Iberia for 94,500 Avios. And, they were sometimes but not always available through British Airways for that same price. Virgin Australia also has access to these, but they don’t go with the 94.5K pricing.

Example 1: JFK-DOH 4/4 1:20 and 21:30

  • Qatar: 94,500 + $99.85
  • Iberia: 94,500 + $99.85
  • Virgin Australia Velocity: 92,000 + $240.90
  • Alaska: 150K + $20.15
  • Not available through British Airways, JetBlue, or AA
The cash components above are listed in Australian dollars. In US dollars the taxes are around $241

Example 2: JFK-DOH 4/10 11:20AM

  • Qatar: 94,500 + $99.85
  • Iberia: 94,500 + $99.85
  • BA: 94,500 + $ 104.35
  • Virgin Australia Velocity: 92,000 + $240.90
Qatar’s website has a bug in which they sometimes show far higher fees than what is actually charged. Above you can see at the top-right it shows $99.85 in fees. That’s correct. At the bottom, though, you can see $791.85 in fees. That’s incorrect.

Example 2: SFO-DOH 7/9

  • Qatar: 94,500 + $99.85
  • Iberia: 94,500 + $99.85
  • BA: 94,500 + $ 104.35
  • Virgin Australia Velocity: 104,000 + $28 USD

Even more space via Alaska, but you’ll pay big

Alaska has access to a huge amount of Qatar award space, but often at astronomical prices. From JFK these “rule busting” awards cost 150,000 miles one-way. From California, they cost a whopping 215,000 miles one-way.

I believe that in all of these cases you’d be better off booking through Qatar’s Flexi awards. See the next section…

Widest Availability via Qatar Flexi awards

Via Flexi awards, Qatar itself offers great award availability at double the saver award price. So, instead of paying 70K one-way between North America and Doha, you’ll pay 140,000 Avios. The cash component is the same: ~$100.

Summary

For cheap (less than 100K one-way) business class awards flying Qatar between North America and Doha, these are your best options for finding award space (ranked best to worst):

  1. Qatar & Iberia (tied): These beat out many others thanks to the addition of 94.5K awards. Book via Qatar instead of Iberia, though, because Iberia doesn’t allow changes or cancellations on awards booked on most of their partner airlines.
  2. British Airways: BA has access to most of the same saver space available to Qatar and Iberia, but strangely not all 94.5K flights available to Qatar & Iberia show up on BA.com. I don’t see any reason to book through BA anyway since it is easy to move Avios from BA to Qatar.
  3. Virgin Australia: Virgin Australia seems to have identical access to saver space as does Qatar & Iberia (including what I called 94.5K awards), but Virgin’s prices are usually higher. Additionally, for the US market, there isn’t a great way to get Virgin Australia points.
  4. JetBlue: JetBlue doesn’t have access to the 94.5K awards, but they do otherwise have access to far more saver award space than AA or Alaska.
  5. AA/Alaska (tied): If you can find saver award space (<100K pricing) through these programs and you’re flush with their miles, go for it.

For pricier awards when the cheap awards aren’t available, go with Qatar rather than Alaska.

Now let’s cut the recommendations down to what really matters:

  1. Qatar: Best award availability across the board
  2. JetBlue: Good award availability
  3. Alaska: Terrible saver award availability, but excellent availability if you’re willing to pay far, far more. On the plus side, you get free stopovers
  4. AA: Terrible award availability, but great award pricing especially when flying far beyond Doha. For example, you can fly North America to Doha to South Africa for only 75K miles one-way.

There are other programs with which it is possible to book Qatar business class (Cathay Asia Miles, Finnair, etc.) but I didn’t check these programs so I don’t know where they fit into the above hierarchy.

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34 Comments
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Kevin

I noticed that Qatar advertises increased award availability for Gold member (their new CC) …. any insight how “increased” it is or if it is only for increased “flex” or economy?

D H

I booked 2 first class tickets on Qatar BKK-DOH with AA points; then Qatar had an equipment change and we were downgraded to business. AA refunded the points difference. A few weeks later, one first class award seat showed up again on AA, so I upgraded one ticket again. Flight is on June 9 – no award availability on that flight anymore through AA. Any ideas about how to upgrade the other Business ticket back to First?

Paul Davis

Have you or has anyone has horrible experiences with Qatar online? I keep having to reset my password and it usually takes an email or call to Qatar to properly allow it to be done.

A N

Thank you Greg for the excellent article. Just note on the 94.5K awards, these are Qatar’s peak dates. You can know which dates are peak vs off-peak through their calculator when you select the dates

A N

It works fine with google chrome on the website and on their mobile app. This is a screenshot of the calculator calendar view on Qatar’s web page stating which dates in June 2024 are off-peak (https://ibb.co/604NRDS)

A N

I used the same link you shared and it worked fine. My calculator > Book an award flight. I selected a one-way DOH-JFK. Under the “Depart” cell, when you click on it, the calendar will pop up. This is a screenshot showing the full page of my calculator with the calendar pop up (https://ibb.co/zZHNtjS).

Note: I live in the Middle East, I don’t know if this is an issue related to the US version of the website.

HoosierMiler

Hi Greg, There are important aspects of their “flexi” awards which have higher rates but more availability. According to their call center agents, flexi awards can only be booked for the member and 1 other passenger which is a big pain for families. There are also discrepancies between what you can see online and what the agents can see.

Dennis

Japan airlines doesn’t seem to have access to any of the space.

Tim

Qantas Frequent Flyer is almost completely blocked from Qatar awards, even worse than AA

Paul

I’ve booked q suites from LAX to Doha and back. When the space first became available seats were going 140000 points each. I kept checking and several days later they released two seats on each flight at 70,000 points. I saw the identical pattern when booking other flights within Africa. Fortunately I was able to rebook the seats at the lower rate. Since Qatar releases seats sooner than any of their partners I think it’s best to book directly with them. And you have a multitude of ways to transfer points into their avios program.

Hecta

Did you notice any availability differences when it comes to multiple passengers? For example I can see that BA reliably has 2 J seats available way out on the calendar but where could we find 4+?

.-.-.

Never happens

Jose Barcena

Hi Greg,

I hope you’re doing well! I’ve just finished reading your article on booking options with Qatar Airways, specifically about the Q-suites, and I must say, it was a great read. It gave me a comprehensive overview and left me with a good sense of the available options.

There’s one particular detail that caught my eye, and I couldn’t help but wonder why it hasn’t been widely discussed— the opportunity to book Q-suites for a six-hour flight for just 39,000 points. This might sound a bit mysterious, and I hope my curiosity doesn’t come off as too forward. I believe in the value of sharing knowledge, yet some details, like this intriguing 39,000 points deal, might be better discussed in a more private setting. It’s a topic I’ve been exploring recently, and it seems to be a consistent offering rather than a one-off deal.

My interest might seem a tad bold, but it’s rooted in a genuine passion for travel and a deep commitment to understanding the nuances of airline miles, routing, and IT metrics over the years. This enthusiasm leads me to a somewhat audacious proposal: I would be incredibly honored to learn directly under your guidance. Whether through a part-time or interim position, any opportunity to delve deeper into this industry with someone as experienced as you would be immensely valuable.

I hope this request doesn’t seem too presumptuous. My aim is simply to express my eagerness to learn and contribute to this fascinating field. If discussing the 39,000 points deal or the possibility of working together interests you, I’d be delighted to continue this conversation in a more private setting.

Thank you for your time, and again, for the insightful article. I eagerly await the chance to discuss these matters further and to possibly learn from your expertise.

Cheers,
Jose

UrbanDweller

I’ve never seen a cover letter written in the comments before here at FM. Sheesh.

Last edited 2 months ago by UrbanDweller
Bob

lol

Chris

As an extension to this post, I’d love to see a program-by-program comparison for awards beyond US-Doha, such as US – Doha – Africa, which program is best?

Also, does anyone know which programs allow mixed-cabin awards on Qatar? I wanted to book a J and F mixed cabin, but neither BA nor Qatar would let me.

Ryan del mundo

I just booked a mixed class award on Qatar J and F. Worked out awesome as there was not J the entire way and I get to fly F DOH-BKK. I was quite surprised! It didn’t really seem like the price was any higher than all-J flights. It’s the F on the ex-Cathay jets so maybe they don’t price it higher?

Chris

What program did you use to book it? I could not price it out using Qatar’s website. The F segment is available at the saver level on its own, but it goes back to the higher flexible price band when I book it on the same itinerary as the J. BA’s website showed the same price but it errored out at check out page

Chris

Update: I was able to price out US-DOH-BKK mixed J and F award using Qatar at 95K, but I’m unable to price this out on US-DOH-HKG, the route I was looking at, even when the DOH-HKG segment is available on its own. Very intriguing

NCtravel

Interesting. I booked BKK – DOH – ORD with the first leg in F, and the second leg in QSuites for 95k/pp.

I booked directly with Qatar (this was booked essentially end of calendar for 2025).

Kristen Taylor

Do you have any details on when the specific airlines release their award flights? Not just days in advance, but also time of day?

Paul

When you know you want to go someplace on a particular airline start checking the week before space opens up to see what time of day it actually breaks. And sometimes it starts at midnight but doesn’t completely release space until 6:00 or 7:00 a.m..

GP_7676

Very informative article, thanks Greg.

Apologies this is off topic but is there anything you can do about the constant reloading of ads on the mobile version of the site? I am constantly losing my place on the page because of it (it just happened again while writing this haha).

John

Having the same issues. iPhone XR using Microsoft Edge.

GP_7676

Clicked through from Milesfeed. iPhone 14 Pro on the Safari browser.

I will try direct visits next time to see if that helps. Interesting that referral traffic might be causing it. No idea why that would be, I assume the ad server operates independently of how the traffic is sourced.

WhereTo2Next

I am having this issue with the t-mobile add constantly taking over myself. It is incessant.
iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Darin

The Tmobile ad running with sound on is driving me nuts, keeps happening.

Lee

FM and OMAAT both have this problem. I suspect you use a common backend. That is, ad platform.

Android.

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee
Carmelita Harley

I have an iPhone 14 and I experience the same issue. It’s frustrating when trying to read through an article. I’m not sure if it’s when I click through from X or when I just go directly to the site.
Thanks for looking into resolving this.