How to Book Flights with Qatar Avios | Thrifty Traveler

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How to Book Flights with Qatar Avios

The Master Guide to Booking Qatar Airways Flights Using Qatar Avios

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Whether you’re saving points by flying economy or aiming to splurge to fly the world’s best business class, booking flights on Qatar Airways using points has gotten much easier.

For years, using American Airlines AAdvantage miles was the go-to way to book Qatar flights using miles – and it may still be the best way to book Qatar Qsuites business class. But Qatar’s closer partnership with British Airways and recent adoption of Avios miles has opened the floodgates, making it much easier to earn the miles you need to book by transferring points from cards like the American Express® Gold Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

That has put Qatar and its Privilege Club program in the spotlight … and travelers are quickly realizing there are some hurdles and quirks to using Qatar Avios. The site can be tricky to navigate and you need some Avios in your account in order to search for flights. 

We’ll walk you through how it works so you can book these flights for yourself with no hassle.

 

 

The Basics of Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is one of the best airlines in the world. And its footprint in the U.S. keeps growing, making it even easier to find a ride.

Qatar currently flies to its hub in Doha (DOH) from 12 U.S. cities and one in Canada.

 

qatar airways north american gateways

 

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth(DFW)
  • Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Montreal (YUL)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD)

Aiming to fly in the renowned Qatar Qsuites? Most of these flights between North America and Qatar should have them onboard, though as of publication, some flights from Boston (BOS), Philadelphia (PHL), and Atlanta (ATL) do not. If you’re using the Legrooms extension while searching through Google Flights, it should tell you whether your business class fare gets you an individual suite – that’s what you want.

Don’t live near one of these gateways? You can always book a separate positioning flight to one of these cities and book a separate award ticket through Qatar. And that’s important: When booking flights using Qatar miles, you cannot mix airlines on one ticket. That means you’ll need to depart from one of Qatar’s North American gateways to book Qatar flights through Qatar Privilege Club.

 

qatar airways qsuite

 

Read our full review of Qatar Airways Qsuites!

While Qsuites get all the fanfare (and rightfully so), Qatar Airways economy is a treat, too. You get at least 32 inches of legroom in wider seats than you’ll find on many other airlines. Plus, the food, service, and onboard entertainment are top-notch.

 

qatar airways economy seats

 

As of publication, Qatar doesn’t fly any of its Airbus A380s equipped with Qatar Airways First Class to or from the U.S. And it’s unlikely that will change.

 

Why You Should Book with Qatar Privilege Club

British Airways and Qatar Airways charge the same number of miles to fly Qatar’s nonstop flights between North America and its hub in Doha (DOH).

It’ll cost you 35,000 Avios and about $65 for a one-way economy flight whether you book these nonstop flights through British Airways Executive Club or Qatar Airways Privilege Club. Up in business class, it’s 70,000 Avios and roughly $100 in taxes and fees either way.

So, why book through Qatar instead of British Airways? If you want to make a connection and go beyond Doha, using Qatar miles will be significantly cheaper.

Let’s say you want to continue onward to somewhere like Dubai (DXB), Cairo (CAI), the Maldives (MLE), or go as far south as Cape Town (CPT). British Airways charges award rates on a per-segment basis, adding together the normal cost of each flight. Despite their closer partnership, Qatar still does it differently.

Instead, Qatar generally prices award tickets on its own flights by region. You can look up how many Qatar Avios it will take for a saver award on your specific flight by entering your route in Qatar’s calculator.

 

qatar avios calculator

 

It’s the same rate no matter which airport you depart from in North America. And roundtrip flights are simply double the price of a one-way. Some popular destinations to fly Qatar beyond Doha include:

  • Abu Dhabi (AUH), Dubai (DXB), and Muscat (MCT): 37,500 economy; 75,000 business each way
  • Amman (AMM), Cairo (CAI), and New Delhi (DEL): 40,000 economy; 80,000 business each way
  • Maldives (MLE), Nairobi (NBO), and Seychelles (SEZ): 42,500 economy; 85,000 business each way
  • Bangkok (BKK), Cape Town (CPT), and Johannesburg (JNB): 47,500 economy; 95,000 business each way

Looking for another route? just plug it into the calculator to look up the number of miles required for a saver award.

Note: Qatar recently raised taxes and fees on award tickets and now charges a per-segment fee. Connecting flights generally incur total taxes and fees of around $200 each way for business class tickets.

While these fees are more than what American Airlines charges for award tickets, it’s still an incredibly cheap way to fly Qatar’s Qsuites – especially considering how much easier it is to earn Qatar Avios than American miles.

Now that you know where you can fly and how many miles your flights will cost, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of how to actually book these flights with Qatar.

 

Step 1: Sign Up and Link Accounts

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for a free account with Qatar.

 

join qatar privilege club

 

If you don’t already have a British Airways account, you’ll first want to sign up for a British Airways Executive Club account as well so you can link the two accounts.

By linking your accounts, you’ll open up more transfer opportunities since you can transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Capital One Venture miles instantly to British Airways. Citi ThankYou points transfer directly to Qatar Airways.

 

How to Link Qatar and British Airways Avios

It’s incredibly easy to link your British Airways and Qatar Airways accounts.

After registering with Qatar, you’ll get a prompt to link your British Airways Executive Club account. Otherwise, you can link your accounts here.

 

link qatar and ba avios accounts

 

Simply follow the prompts to link the accounts. It will bring you to a sign-in screen to provide your login details with British Airways and you’ll receive a few one-time password codes to your phone or email for verification.

 

link british airways avios with qatar

 

Once your accounts are linked, you’ll be able to instantly move Avios between British Airways and Qatar. Plus, as long as your accounts are linked, Qatar will be able to pull from either account when booking.

 

qatar ba avios account balance

 

Step 2: Get Some Points to Search

One major hurdle trips up travelers when trying to search through Qatar’s site for award redemptions: Unless you have miles in your account, you cannot search for award seats.

The good news is that you don’t need to have the entire amount to book an award just to search. Even if you have just a few miles in the account, you should be able to search to confirm the flights you want can be booked by Qatar before you transfer the full number of points required.

If you’re just starting out and both your British Airways and Qatar accounts are empty, you’ll want to transfer at least 1,000 points (the minimum required by the banks) to be able to search – and I’d recommend just transferring the minimum at first because once you transfer credit card points to an airline, they cannot be transferred back.

 

transfer amex points to british

 

Luckily, transferring Amex, Chase, or Capital One points to British Airways is instant. And so long as your British Airways and Qatar accounts are linked, you should be able to begin searching for award flights on Qatar’s site without taking any extra steps.

If for any reason Qatar’s site isn’t letting you search at this stage, just move a few Avios from British to Qatar. There is no minimum required, you could transfer just one mile if you’d like. These transfers are also instant – but unlike your credit card transfer, you can also instantly transfer them back to your British Airways account.

 

combine qatar and british airways avios

 

If you have Citi ThankYou points, you’ll need to transfer from Citibank directly into your Qatar Privilege Club account. These transfers generally take 1-2 days.

 

Step 3: Search for Flights

Once you have a balance of Avios, you’ll be able to search for flights with Qatar. The experience can be a bit buggy so you’ll want to follow these steps closely in order to avoid errors or higher-priced flights.

 

Find Saver Award Availability Using American’s Site

The first step is to pinpoint which dates have the lowest-priced saver award availability.

While Qatar’s site has a flexible calendar search, it cannot be relied upon. It often shows saver award pricing on the calendar but when you click through to select flights, there may not actually be any flights available for that low rate.

To solve this issue, I would recommend first searching for saver award availability on American’s website. It will be easiest to pinpoint the dates by searching for each nonstop leg separately since this will help you filter your results to show only Qatar-operated flights. One note: You’ll only be able to search for flights 330 days in advance using American’s search tool, while you can book flights up to 360 days in advance when booking through Qatar.

First, search for the nonstop flight from your North American gateway to Qatar’s hub in Doha (DOH), select “redeem miles”, search one-way, and choose the exact number of passengers traveling. On the following page, click on the “calendar” icon to maximize your view of travel dates.

 

choose calendar on american search for flexible dates

 

Once you’re in the calendar view, make sure to filter for nonstop flights only. You can also filter by cabin if you’re looking for business class seats. If you see dates available in green, these dates should have the lowest-priced saver awards when booking with Qatar.

 

filter for nonstop flights only to find qatar flights

 

If you’re searching from New York City (JFK), you’ll need to watch out for flights operated by American Airlines. Those flights are sometimes priced lower than Qatar flights in American’s search tool. New Yorkers, you’ll need to click through to ensure the dates you want have flights operated by Qatar Airways. If you’re searching for business class seats, check any dates that show 70,000 miles or less. Then you can filter the results by airline to only show Qatar-operated flights.

 

watch for aa operated flights from new york jfk

 

From any other North American gateway, a nonstop flight to Doha (DOH) that you find on American’s search tool will always be operated by Qatar. And if American is selling award seats on these flights, you should be able to find the lowest-priced saver awards for those exact dates when booking with Qatar.

If you’re just traveling to Doha, it’s easy. Just move on to the next step and look for your flights on Qatar’s website. If you’re planning to connect elsewhere in the Middle East, it’s generally equally as easy since Qatar usually has good availability between Doha and other cities in the Middle East.

 

desert in dubai

 

But if you’re looking to travel somewhere beyond Doha, such as the Maldives (MLE) or Cape Town (CPT), you’ll want to repeat this process to pinpoint saver award availability on the nonstop flights between Doha and your destination.

Keep in mind that flights from North America almost always arrive in Doha the following day, so you’ll need to line up availability accordingly. For example, you may need to depart from Chicago on Mar. 15, to connect to a flight to the Maldives on Mar. 16. It’s also crucial to pay close attention to the flight times to make sure the flights you want line up. This will take a bit of trial and error.

Once you’ve found dates that you believe should match up, double-check by searching the complete route, filtering for 1-stop flights operated by Qatar.

 

chicago to maldives on qatar airways searching availability on aa site

 

The rate you see on American’s website will not be the same that it will cost to book through Qatar. Remember, you’re just looking for availability here and then plugging those dates into Qatar to book. It is cheaper to book with American miles, so if you have a stash of AAdvantage miles, great! Just book through American.

Otherwise, continue to the next step to book your flights through Qatar.

 

Start Your Search from Qatar’s Homepage

It’s time to plug in what you’ve found directly at QatarAirways.com. And this is where things get tricky.

If you try to search for flights through Qatar’s award booking tool, you may experience some hiccups. It will sometimes give you an error message if you do not have enough miles in your account to book the flight you are searching.

 

book with qatar avios error for insufficient miles

 

To get around this, you’ll want to first conduct an exact date search for a normal cash ticket directly from Qatar’s homepage.

 

search for cash ticket from qatar home page first

 

On the following screen, click on the “Book an award flight” button at the top-right to view award flights for that date. If you’re not logged in, it may say “Book using Avios”, which will bring you to a login screen and then back to this page.

 

click book award flight qatar avios

 

If you get an error or the website locks up at any point during your search, always navigate back to the homepage to start your search again. You can do this quickly by clicking on the Qatar logo in the upper-left corner of the screen.

 

Select the Right Flights

Qatar’s search will display flights operated by both Qatar and British Airways on the award booking results page. Choose wisely.

You’ll want to avoid flights operated by British Airways as those will have extremely high taxes and fees. Instead, look for flights operated by Qatar where you saw saver award availability when searching on American’s site.

If you’re taking a connecting flight to the Middle East, the flights between Doha and the destination in the Middle East will be marketed as first class. You’ll still pay the business class rate for these connections. It’s just 75,000 Avios plus around $200 in taxes and fees one-way in this example from Chicago to Dubai.

 

Chicago to Dubai for 75k qatar avios in business class

 

If you’re searching for multiple passengers, Qatar will display the total number of miles plus taxes and fees that are required for your entire party. For two travelers, it will be double, and so on.

 

Chicago to Dubai for two passengers

 

Thrifty Tip: If you’re traveling in business or first class when transiting in Doha to a connecting flight in the Middle East, stop by the Al Safwa First Class Lounge.

 

qatar airways al safwa review

 

Beware: Qatar also offers “Flexi awards,” which are higher-priced award seats that will be more available than saver award seats. These flights are highlighted by a green flag. You’ll want to avoid these flights if you’re looking for the saver rates as Flexi awards are double the price.

 

qatar flexi awards are double the price

 

If you don’t find any saver award seats available on the date you have chosen, you can navigate to other dates easily by using the calendar. You can even get a monthly view of dates by clicking on the “More dates” icon. But, remember that the rates listed on Qatar’s calendar are frequently inaccurate. As you can see, it’s showing that every date has saver seats available here but this is not the case in reality. That’s why it’s easier to pinpoint your dates using American’s search tool beforehand.

 

qatar airways flexible calendar view is not accurate

 

When you find saver seats available (flights you can select without the green flag), it will be 95,000 Avios plus around $200 in taxes one-way to Cape Town (CPT).

 

chicago to cape town south africa for 95,000 avios

 

And 85,000 Avios plus around $200 in taxes and fees one-way to the Maldives (MLE).

 

chicago to the maldives for 85k avios one-way in business class

 

Step 4: Transfer More Points to Book

Found the flights you want are bookable through Qatar Privilege Club? Now, it’s time to transfer enough points to actually book the flights. Follow the same process as mentioned earlier when you made your initial transfer to be able to search on Qatar’s site.

This time, just calculate how many more miles you’ll need to book your flights and complete the transfer. It should be instant from Amex, Capital One, and Chase to your British Airways account, while it may take 1-2 days for transfers from Citi to Qatar.

For a limited time, you can take advantage of a 30% transfer bonus from Chase to British Airways through July 31. That brings down the cost as low as 54,000 points for a one-way flight to Doha in business class!

 

Fly to Cape Town South Africa on Qatar

 

Step 5: Book Your Flights with Qatar

Once your points have transferred into your account, go ahead and complete the booking on Qatar’s website. You won’t need to transfer Avios from British to Qatar. As long as the accounts are linked, Qatar will be able to utilize your full balance of Avios to book the flights.

It will use up all of your Qatar Avios first and then pull from your British Airways account. If Qatar is pulling Avios from your British Airways account, it will ask you to log in to your BA account during the booking process and bring you right back to your booking with Qatar.

If you have any issues booking your flights, you can contact Qatar Airways Privilege Club for assistance by calling 1-800-988-6128.

After the flights are ticketed, relax and grab your favorite beverage. You just booked seats on the best airline in the world! Cheers to that!

 

fly to the maldives on qatar

 

Qatar Airways Change & Cancellation Policy

One other reason why booking through Qatar Executive Club is great? A solid change and cancellation policy.

Unlike other airlines that charge you $200-plus to cancel a flight and get your miles back, Qatar award tickets can be changed or canceled for a small $25 fee up to 24 hours before departure. Within three to 24 hours of departure, that jumps to a $100 fee.

Simply navigate to manage your booking on Qatar’s website to make any changes or cancel your ticket. All miles will be redeposited and taxes refunded after paying the fee if you choose to cancel. No shows or cancellations within three hours of departure will forfeit all miles and fees.

 

Do British Airways or Qatar Avios Expire?

British Airways and Qatar miles both expire after 36 months of inactivity. You should always aim to use up your miles ASAP, but when that’s not possible, there’s an easy way to keep them from disappearing.

To extend the activity, you just have to earn, spend, purchase, or share at least one mile to keep all your miles active. A simple transfer from credit card points or purchase through a shopping portal should do the trick.

 

How to Earn Qatar Avios

You don’t need to fly Qatar or British Airways to earn Avios to book these flights.

If you’re earning points with any major credit card that earns transferrable points, you’ll be able to transfer those points to either British Airways or Qatar, which you can pool together to book flights through Qatar. Here are some of our favorites.

The American Express® Gold Card is one of the best all-around credit cards, period. It earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 each year, then 1x) and restaurants. You’ll earn 60,000 Amex points after spending $4,000 within six months.

And you may be able to get a 75,000-point welcome bonus via CardMatch! Amex points can be instantly transferred to British Airways on a 1:1 basis, which you can easily share with your Qatar balance by linking the two accounts.

 

Amex Gold Credit Card

 

Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best travel rewards card for beginners. Currently, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Chase points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Chase points can be instantly transferred to British Airways on a 1:1 basis.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred card

 

Click Here to get more information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 
The Capital One Venture X Rewards card is truly one of the best cards out there for travelers. Currently, you can earn 75,000 Capital One Miles after spending just $4,000 in the first three months of opening the card. Capital One miles can be instantly transferred to British Airways on a 1:1 basis.

 

capital one venture x

 

Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Citi Premier® Card is another great way to earn points that can be transferred to Qatar. Currently, there is a 80,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within the first three months. Citi points transfer to Qatar Airways on a 1:1 basis. These transfers can take 1-2 days.

 

Citi Premier card

 

Click Here to learn more about the Citi Premier Card.
If you need to top off your account, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to either British Airways or Qatar at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

 

Bottom Line

Qatar’s Qsuites are now more attainable thanks to new transfer opportunities with British Airways. Booking these flights with Qatar involves a few extra steps and navigating a tricky website, but it’s well worth it to learn this process so you can book flights on the best airline in the world with easy-to-earn points.

The Middle East and the Maldives are calling. And Qatar’s Qsuite is waiting for you.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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