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All airlines are struggling at the moment, but Qatar Airways is still intending to fly to 80 destinations by the end of June. Qatar has also introduced a range of generous cancellation/rebooking options (and one of them is borderline insane in how generous it is!)
“Whether you have booked or are planning to book for travel up to 31 December 2020, you can rely on us for the best travel solutions:
Hold on to your ticket
Keep your ticket and use it when you are ready with our extended ticket validity, now valid for 2 years from the date of ticket issuance for greater flexibility.
You can change your travel date or destination free of charge, as often as you need, for travel until 31 December 2020. You can change your origin to another city within the same country or any other destination we fly to within a 5,000 mile radius of your original destination.
Swap for Qmiles
Swap your ticket for Qmiles and redeem them towards reward flights, extra baggage or cabin upgrades when the time is right. For every 1 USD, you will earn 100 Qmiles that are valid for at least three years, so you can have the flexibility to choose how, when and for whom to redeem them
Exchange for future travel
You can exchange your ticket for a future travel voucher with 10% additional value. Vouchers are now valid for two years from the date of voucher issuance.
Refund your ticket
Rest assured, we will refund your ticket to the original form of payment if your flight gets cancelled.”
There are plenty of decent options there, but the Unlimited Changes section is particularly interesting – especially the last bit, “You can change your travel date or destination free of charge, as often as you need, for travel until 31 December 2020. You can change your origin to another city within the same country or any other destination we fly to within a 5,000 mile radius of your original destination.”
Ben over at OMAAT flagged that the advice being given to travel agents by Qatar is clear that this is as good as it looks. The crucial part is that it instructs agents to “waive difference in fare, taxes, fees, charges, surcharges, rebooking penalty”.
In other words, you can book a Qatar flight to anywhere (for any price), travelling before the end of the year, then change your destination to anywhere within 5,000 miles of that destination (so long as Qatar flies there), for no additional cost whatsoever. The advice to travel agents is also clear that this applies to all cabins.
Let’s say, for example, that you booked a flight from London to Doha, but then decide you would actually like to fly to Cape Town instead. According to the above, Qatar will switch your destination to Cape Town for no extra cost because it is less than 5,000 miles from your original destination (Doha):
The possibilities are endless…
Is this real?
To be honest, when I first saw this I assumed it must be a mistake. We reached out to our contacts at Qatar to confirm things and received the following comment:
” (Yes) it’s a 5,000 mile radius, correct. Not a typo!
We are shortly issuing a press release with more detail on this offer. Please look out for it and check our website as it will answer a lot of points on the terms.”
On the face of it, that’s a confirmation – although I do wonder whether they might be hastily writing (or re-writing…) the terms to make things a little more restrictive.
If you want to take advantage of this, I would do so as soon as possible. Qatar has confirmed the 5,000 mile rule is intentional and the advice given to travel agents is clear.
I suspect that the terms might well be tightened up relatively soon though and will provide an update once they have been made available.