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In airline accounting departments the world over, the conversation is almost all the same – money going out, and none going in. I say almost, because there’s one where they’re looking to add a new money counter to keep up with booming new demand. Qatar Airways has a promotion so wild, so lucrative and so amusing, people from all over the world are hopping on.

There’s just one catch, or maybe two, depending on how you look at it, but the fact is that people are booking trips from their wildest dreams for a fraction of the normal cost, in flying suites with privacy doors…

a bed in a planeQatar Airways 5,000 Mile Ticket Game

Qatar Airways is the airline that brought us the QSuite, the “first class in business class” concept which pushed every other airline to offer something competitive. To this day, only one has matched or bested, and that’s ANA with “The Room”. Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

The matter at hand is that Qatar is offering a ridiculously friendly policy to encourage new bookings, which encourages you to find a cheap business class flight, and turn it into something else. Want to book a cheap fare from New York to Ukraine, but would really like to go from Chicago to Hong Kong? Go for it! Want to find a cheap ticket from Oslo to Singapore, but really want to go to Australia? You bet, go for it!

It’s all oddly possibly, thanks to a fully confirmed promotion which people can’t quite wrap their heads around, but really, really should…

May 17th Update: it appears Qatar have temporarily suspended many of the cheapest fares, though some may still exist. It’s worth checking back, and still worth running some Google Flights searches. Read up to see what might be possible still. Additionally Qatar Airways has limited the policy so that the same fare class must be available when you rebook, and you can’t rebook for 14 days from the time of booking. Other than that, it’s all still a go. Read more here.

What you can do: book a ticket to a place you don’t really want to go, and immediately change it to a destination within 5,000 miles of the original at no extra cost. You can even change your departure city, as long as that part is in the same country..

For travel until the end of 2020, Qatar Airways will let you book any ticket, from any starting point, and change to a different destination, so long as the destination is within 5,000 miles of the original destination. You can use the tool GCMap.com to map out how far a place is from the next, but for reference – London to New York is under 3,700 miles.

a plant on a tableThe Catches And The Best Deals

The catch(es)? You need to find a cheap fare in the cabin you want, and you must complete your travel by 2020. Even your changed ticket must complete in 2020 to avoid the fare differences and any other fees. For travel any time in 2021, you’d be subject to all the usual fees.

Unfortunately, unless you have an Aussie or New Zealand passport, that rules out two of the more exotic options by the looks of it, but it’s a big world out there, and you can go anywhere within 5,000 miles of the cheapest ticket you can find. You can only change to a city within 5,000 miles of the destination, but you can also change to any departure point within the country of origin, so New York moving to Chicago is fine for departure, and Hong Kong moving to Sydney is fine for the destination.

Obviously, there’s lots of uncertainty about which parts of the world will, and will not open for travel this year, and who they’ll let in, and if that’s an issue for you – the alternatives aren’t all that bad.

If you can’t seem to make your travel work, it still counts to be converted into

  • QMiles with Qatar Airways – $1000 ticket would leave you with 100,000 miles. $500, 50,000 etc.
  • A voucher with Qatar good for 2 years, with a 10% value boost on the fare.
  • A full refund, if your flight gets cancelled by the airline.

Is this a mistake, should we be booking something knowing we’ll change it? I think Qatar Airways would find the questions almost insulting. You’re talking about an airline which wins, or places in the top 3 in the world year in, year out, with some of the smartest minds in travel running the show.

Does Qatar care if you get a great deal in a time when no other airline has any passengers? No. They care that they have money coming in, when no one else does. The fact that you get a better seat for less is an after thought.

2020 is a write off for nearly every airline, but Qatar just found a way to drum up insane interest, particularly on premium cabin fares, where markup is greater. Now, before you go there, I know your next question – like what are some great deals that I can book and try to change? Got you!

Here are a few business class deals from various starting points, like…

Immediately after booking your trip online, preferably at QatarAirways.com, you can then call a Qatar Airways service center to change your ticket to a city of your dreams. Obviously, the big question, or catch is whether you’ll be allowed in this year, but all reports seem to indicate a return to tourism by the end of summer, so end of 2020 is looking safer.

Want the full rules, terms and conditions? Check out our article which broke the news yesterday, when Qatar confirmed this promo to GSTP. You’ll find the exact sheet of paper phone re-booking agents are working off of in terms of rules, and the juicy details are spelled out. Happy (deal) hunting…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. On The Qatar website, they do mention the changes as you described free of fees or additional charge, but they did NOT specifically exempt fare differences. So from what their policy says, I’d assume that flexibility to change routing and date etc, but expect to pay the fare difference. What do you think?

    1. You’d expect wrong. As noted, at the bottom, there is a link to the larger details, which includes a PDF that specifically states no fare difference. It’s why I’m writing about it. If there was a fare difference, I wouldn’t bother typing it all out.

    1. We broke the news of this two days ago when Qatar confirmed the promo and a reader confirmed it before America was awake. Great result for everyone.

  2. They canceled almost all business class fares, only the most expensive flexible fares still active. So …it was good, short but good 🙂

  3. Had PHL – KBP ticket, they would not change to MLE or ZNZ but offered BKK… even though MLE and ZNZ are both 1000 miles closer to Kiev than Bangkok.

    Rep said that in their internal system MLE and ZNZ are out of range.
    Looks like they’ve definitely updated the rules internally to prevent vacation destination changes.

  4. Thanks for the info. I booked London to Singapore few days ago, and they offered me another additional $100 coupon.

  5. So basically, QR launched a great safety net for people who had flights booked with them.

    People exploited it, now they have removed all the great price fares for everyone.


    1. Um, no. They created a promotion which earned millions in NEW bookings, which airlines vitally need. They filled up their cup, and cut the cheap fares. The re-routing rules are still on, no one with current booking is effected so I don’t know what the problem is?

  6. Can I see if I have this correct – I can book a Business Class ticket from Kuwait to Doha which is a 45 minute flight, and immediately change it for free to a Business Class ticket to HKG (which is less than 5000 miles from Doha)?

  7. Doesn’t look like there are any good business class deals ex-London at all…if anything, they’re double what they usually are!

  8. My flight was cancelled by Qatar to Penang on 23.3.2020, I booked with Qatar direct, requested a refund on 23.3.2020 and still no refund. Don’t expect refunds to be quick if they cancel your flight. Not very good customer service in this respect.

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