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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Qatar’s incredible new rebooking policy: Is it too good to be true?

Airways announced a new rebooking policy on May 14 — dubbed “Travel with Confidence” — that covers flights through Dec. 31, 2020, that are booked by Sept. 30, 2020. These changes give customers more flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak, including an ultra-generous date and destination rebooking policy, the ability to convert travel credits to Qmiles and other interesting options.

This updated rebooking policy states that Qatar Airways flyers can make “unlimited” changes to their itineraries, including changing their flight destination to anywhere within a 5,000-mile radius of their original destination. Even better? You can make these changes voluntarily (your flight doesn’t need to be canceled) and a fare difference doesn’t apply.

This is the most generous coronavirus change policy we’ve ever seen, especially when compared to the Big 3 domestic U.S. carriers. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the ins-and-outs of Qatar’s awesome new change options and help you decide what change option is best for you.

A closer look at Qatar’s change policy

Qatar Airways A380 on Runway
(Photo by Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock)

As reported by One Mile at a Time, these changes come just days after Qatar Airways announced that it plans to start ramping back up its international service, with the airline serving 52 international destinationsby the end of May and 80 by the end of June. This makes it clear that Qatar wants to start its return to normalcy, but has left customers wondering what happens if their travel is disrupted in the case of continued border closuresflight cancellations and — frankly — general concerns around the safety of future travel.

This new booking policy looks like an attempt to squash these fears and encourage future flight bookings, giving Qatar Airways immediate cash-flow. Here’s a look at all of the changes Qatar has announced so far. Again, these policies apply to bookings made by Sept. 30 for travel departing by Dec. 31.

  • Canceled flights are eligible for a full refund to the original form of payment regardless of the ticket’s booking class.
  • The value of canceled tickets will be valid for two years, giving you extra time to rebook a future trip when you think it’s safe.
  • You’re eligible for a 10% bonus if you exchange your ticket for future flight credit instead of a refund, so a $1,000 refund becomes a $1,100 flight voucher towards future credit.
  • You can exchange your ticket for Qmiles at a rate of 100 Qmiles per U.S. dollar, effectively letting you purchase miles at 1 cent each. Note that this is still 0.2 cents per mile higher than TPG’s valuation of 0.8 cents per point.
  • You can change the date of your flight, the origin airport (so long as it’s in the same country as originally booked) and the destination anywhere within a 5,000-mile radius of your original destination as many times as you’d like.

All of these are super-generous policies. In the case of the 10% bonus, a member could theoretically purchase a Qatar Airways ticket and immediately refund it for the bonus flight credit. However, there is some hassle involved with this and isn’t exactly ethical, so we don’t condone this practice.

In addition, the ability to convert a ticket’s value to Qmiles at 1 cent each is also interesting. These miles aren’t the most useful (or valuable) but could be worth considering if you have a very specific redemption in mind. We don’t recommend doing this without a plan though — “buying” miles without a plan leaves you open to a huge devaluation.

One last thing: this policy only applies to paid tickets on Qatar Airways flights, so tickets booked with miles are not eligible for these benefits.

The lowdown on Qatar’s new rebooking policy

Qatar Change Policy Screen Shot

The most intriguing part of Qatar’s new change policy is its rebooking policy. As discussed, you can rebook any ticket set to depart by the end of the year and change its dates, origin and destination airport. While you must depart from the same country, destinations can be changed to anywhere within a 5,000-mile radius of your original destination.

Better yet, the rebooking policy has made it clear that changes are not subject to any fees and apply to both voluntary and involuntary changes. However, travel must be completed by the end of 2020, so you can’t book a ticket for winter 2020 and rebook into summer 2021. This limits some of the policy’s usefulness as some countries may keep their borders closed through 2020 and it simply may not be safe to travel by the end of the year.

On the bright side, there’s nothing stopping you from rebooking a ticket and requesting a flight credit (with a 10% bonus) if you decide to not take the trip. Just keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that Qatar Airways will make it through this travel downturn, so your flight credit could be deemed worthless if the airline did go under.

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