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Update: Qatar has retracted their prior statement. See below. Original post is left intact below for posterity.
Qatar recently launched an unbundling of their Business Class fares. With this, the buy up from an “R” fare (Business Class Classic is what it’s technically called, though I prefer to call it “Basic Business” the same as we would reference Basic Economy fares) can be many hundreds or even over a thousand dollars ++.
And yes, that just to be able to access the airport lounges (Qatar lounges or partner lounges) and choose a seat in advance. If you have an appropriate Oneworld status (Sapphire or Emerald) you retain lounge access based on that, but not otherwise.
Well, Executive Traveller has uncovered the tidbit that the award inventory bucket (this is the U fare bucket – useful to know when searching on ExpertFlyer) will now map to the “R” fare bucket – the Basic Business fare.
So, when you book that famed Qatar QSuite with your American Airlines AAdvantage miles or any other Oneworld currency (and, indeed, even with Qatar’s own frequent flyer points), you will be denied access to the Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha while connecting and even at your point of departure unless you also have the relevant Oneworld status.
I’m not sure what else to say except a) this is super disappointing and b) I think it’s quite shortsighted of Qatar to try to pinch pennies this way. It’s one thing to deny a chauffeur service on a partner award ticket as Emirates now does, but to simply exclude seat selection (yes, I know British Airways also does this) and business class lounge access on a business class ticket just reeks of desperation. It’s not a great look.
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