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Want to sample Qatar’s (QR) revolutionary new “super business class” Qsuites when they become available this June? Or even just their current exceptional business class? You could take advantage of Qatar’s regular flash sales, but there’s no fun in making it so easy is there? Here’s your essential guide to upgrading on Qatar Airways!
Unlike other airlines, Qatar provides a variety of ways to snag that all-important upgrade. But first, in order for your ticket to be eligible, you need to be booked on a QR flight number, flying on a QR plane – so no codeshares. The ticket must also be a Qatar-issued ticket (the ticket number, which is different to the ‘booking reference, will start with 157). This just means you or your travel agent has booked the ticket directly with Qatar, unlike, for example, booking a Round the World flight with a OneWorld partner.
You are only allowed one-cabin upgrades but considering Qatar doesn’t have a premium economy product, you can go from economy straight to business. You also can’t upgrade from business to first class on their London to Doha flights.
The Upgrade Offer
The simplest method is to utilise the “upgrade offer”. These are opportunities to purchase an upgrade for a special discounted price and are sent out via email (so make sure you attach it to your booking) usually a few weeks before your flight. The cost varies every time and is non negotiable, on a first-come first-serve basis.
The offers will be for one segment, so if you are flying to Auckland via Doha from Manchester, you may get an offer for MAN-DOH or DOH-AKL, or you may get an offer for both segments to be purchased individually.
To give you an idea of the price, on my last trip to Delhi, I was given the offer of £349 to upgrade my DOH-DEL segment and for the return journey I was offered £543 for my DOH-LHR segment. Considering my whole return ticket cost me about £500, I wasn’t going to bite.
In the last year I’ve taken two trips from Melbourne to Manchester and the aforementioned trip to Delhi, that’s 12 segments in total. I’ve received an upgrade offer for exactly half of these. Interestingly, one of those trips was a last minute booking to fly out 2 days later and I received the offer the following day, so always keep a look out in your inbox in the days leading up to your flight.
An important thing to note is that if you have more than one person on your booking, every passenger on that booking has to purchase the upgrade in order to take advantage of the offer.
Qmiles are the currency for Qatar’s frequent flyer loyalty scheme (Qatar Privilege Club). The number of miles required depends on the length of the flight. To find out how many Qmiles your flight requires just use the handy Qcalculator on the QR website.
For as little as 25,500 Qmiles you could bag yourself an upgrade from London to Doha if you are travelling on tickets sold under the “Flexi” fare category (with booking codes B, H and Y). If you purchased a “Value” or “Saver” fare (with codes V, L, K, N, M, Q or S) this same journey requires 30,000.
Doha to Auckland is one of the longest flights in the world and upgrades start at 42 500 Qmiles on a “Flexi” ticket. Not bad for over 16 hours of luxury flying. Considering this flight is operated by a B777, I think it’s a safe bet that it will eventually be fitted with those impressive Qsuites. For “Value” or “Saver” fares you require 50 000.
You can even upgrade the whole journey and get a discount. So London to Auckland is 64 000 on the flexible ticket or 70 000 on the cheaper fare.
Unfortunately, “Promo” fares booked under codes O, T, W or Tour Group tickets (booked under code G) are not eligible for an upgrade. Neither are tickets booked with miles. You can confirm your booking code on the Qatar website when you book your flights. Enter your flight details, then choose the flights and fares you want from the options provided. After you click “continue” there will be a summary page like the one below:
A great feature is that these upgrades can be secured immediately online once you have purchased your flight. Just go to your Privilege Club dashboard online and type in your booking reference code into the “Upgrade” tab on the left. It will then show you which segments are eligible. If there is no upgrade availability, you will be placed on a waitlist and the upgrade may be ticketed at any time before the flight. If it doesn’t, then the Qmiles will be returned to your account after the flight.
Qcredits are an added and exclusive benefit of reaching elite status with Qatar Airways and are gifted upon reaching or maintaining a tier. Qcredits may be redeemed for a variety of benefits such as excess baggage, to guest lounge access and of course for upgrades. They expire 12 months after they are issued. Gold members receive 40 Qcredits and Platinum members 60.
London to Doha requires 25 Qcredits for a business class upgrade and it is 35 for Doha to Auckland, whilst London to Auckland costs 50 Qcredits. As above, you can secure the upgrade online immediately.
That means in the year you first achieve platinum status, you would have enough Qcredits (40 from reaching gold, then another 60 when you reach platinum) to upgrade a return flight to Australia or New Zealand.
Upgrade at the Airport
If you haven’t managed to do any of the above, you still have one final opportunity at the airport on your day of departure. This feature is not available at every airport so make sure you check on the Qatar website for the list of airports. However, it is possible at both Heathrow & Manchester.
Once again, upgrades depend on availability and are on a first-come first-serve basis. Just approach a member of staff and enquire about an upgrade. You must ensure you have your privilege card to show them – either physical or on the QR mobile app. You can upgrade using either your Qmiles or Qcredits at the same rates as above.
But remember, you can only upgrade the forthcoming segment. So if you were travelling to Asia, for example, at Heathrow you may upgrade your flight to Doha. If you wanted to do the same for your onward journey, just find the Customer Service desks at Doha airport, or approach one of the agents at the lounges (Al Safwa, Al Mourjan, Privilege Club First Class or Privilege Club Business Class).
If you do manage to snag yourself an upgrade, any Qmiles and Qpoints (QR’s status credits) you earn will be based on the original fare code that was booked. If you have requested a special meal, they do not guarantee that they will be able to serve it in your new cabin if you upgrade on the day of departure.
Earning Qmiles is relatively limited here in the UK. They are a transfer partner with SPG, Marriott Rewards and Accor Hotels LeClub. You can also earn Qmiles from stays with Hilton. The other convenient method is to credit OneWorld flights to your QR Privilege Club. They also allow you to earn Qmiles (but not Qpoints) from anybody you have registered as a family member. QR also regularly holds Qmiles earning bonuses. Most of the year they have some sort of double Qmile bonus and in their last major sale they even had a quintuple bonus!
QR has some of the best premium products of any airline and there are plenty of potential options if you are looking to upgrade. The process is relatively straightforward too, which is always good to see.
Has anybody been successful at getting their QR upgrades? Do let us know in the comments below!