Ridiculous Deal: Qatar Airways allows FREE destination change up to 5,000 miles away

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UPDATE 15 May 0215 hrs: Backtracking is ALLOWED. I decided to be the scapegoat and booked SGN-PNH-SGN in Business Class for $944 and changed it to HAN-DOH-AKL-DOH-HAN through Qatar’s hotline without any fees or fare difference. Enjoy guys.

Early this morning, Qatar Airways updated their COVID-19 change/refund policy and it is RIDICULOUS, in a good way. Qatar Airways is calling it “Travel with confidence” but I am having a little too much confidence right now. Here’s a summary of some important points of the new policy:

  1. Your ticket’s validity is now 2 years from date of issuance.

  2. Unlimited change of flight dates for free. You do not have to pay any fare difference if travel is on/before 31 Dec 2020.

  3. Exchange your ticket for a Qatar Airways voucher with 2 years validity and get 10% more value.

  4. If your flight is cancelled, you will be fully refunded.

  5. Change departure city for free as long as it is within the same country.

  6. Change destination city for free as long as it is within 5,000 miles from original destination.

Here are the rules:

  • Your tickets must be issued on/before 30 Sep 2020.

  • No charge for fare difference if you change destination city and fly by 31 Dec 2020.

Initial impressions

It got better with every point listed above. But point 6 is just mind-blowing. If you have no idea how far 5,000 miles is, a fairly good estimate is 5,000 miles in distance = 10 hours of flying time. For reference, the image below shows the scale of a 5,000 miles radius from Singapore. It covers eastern Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and almost to the north/south pole!


5,000 miles radius from Singapore

5,000 miles radius from Singapore

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Initial questions

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Q1: Is backtracking allowed? (Now confirmed)

Can I book one way from Singapore-Doha and then change it to Singapore-Bangkok via Doha? Since Bangkok is within 5,000 miles from Doha? I do not see anything in the terms and conditions that would prevent me from doing this.


5,000 miles radius from DOH

5,000 miles radius from DOH

Q2: Are fifth-freedom flights allowed? (Now confirmed)

I can find round trip Ho Chi Minh-Phnom Penh flights on Qatar Airways for only $937. It would be bloody wicket if I can change Phnom Phnom Penh to Berlin or Auckland!

Ho Chi Minh is serviced by Qatar’s old seats in 2-2-2 configuration. I would change the departing city (as described in point no. 5 above) to Hanoi for the better reverse herringbone seat. DOH-AKL is of course a Qsuite route. Again, I do not see anything in the terms and conditions that would prevent me from doing this.

However, HAN-DOH-AKL is not bookable on Qatar’s website (even as a multi-city) because of its backtracking routing. In that case, HAN-DOH-TXL would still be amazing at this price.


SGN-PNH in Business Class

SGN-PNH in Business Class


Fly from Hanoi to Auckland via Doha

Fly from Hanoi to Auckland via Doha

Q3: How will mixed cabins be handled?

I can find round trip Colombo-Muscat via Doha flights for only $681. At this price, Colombo-Doha will be in Business while Doha-Muscat will be in First. Can I change Muscat to Frankfurt? Again, I do not see anything in the terms and conditions that would prevent me from doing this.


Mixed cabin for round trip CMB-MCT

Mixed cabin for round trip CMB-MCT

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Recommended routes

You can pay over $3,000 to fly Qatar Business from Singapore to Europe and then change it to a city in USA but why would you, when you get so much more value from the routes listed below?

These routes give you outstanding value and there is nothing in the terms and conditions that would disqualify them from the above-mentioned benefits.

Route 1
Book: Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh
Change to: Hanoi – Auckland via Doha
Price: $934
Receive: 31,000 Asia Miles (worth $589)
Receive: 3,700 Credit Card miles (worth $70)

Route 2
Book: Colombo – Muscat via Doha (Business + First)
Change to: Colombo – Frankfurt/Paris/London via Doha (Business + First)
Price: $681
Receive: 14,000 Asia Miles (worth $266)
Receive: 2,700 Credit Card miles (worth $51)

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Where to credit?

I was booked into fare class ‘D’, giving me 125% mileage accrual for Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. With a total distance of about 25,000 miles, This trip would bag me a total of about 31,000 miles.

Which card to use?

Visit the global version of the website if you want to be charged in USD. Use UOB Visa Signature for this but remember that you need to spend a minimum of $1,000 per statement month to receive 4 MPD.

Visit the Singapore page if you want to be charged in SGD. Use DBS Woman’s World to receive 4 MPD for this online transaction but you will probably have to keep track if you receive the correct amount of miles on the 16th of next month. If not, you will have to sent DBS a message with prove of the online purchase. I am also unsure if payment will be processed locally to avoid 1% DCC fee.

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Conclusion

This is still a developing story. I am in touch with Qatar Airways for further clarifications on the above routings.

But what is the worst that can happen? If the high value routings are not allowed, you can change the destination to another city without backtracking. Or you can just change it to a Qatar Airways voucher at 10% extra value with 2 years validity. If, for some reason, government-controlled Qatar Airways closes down, you may lose all your money.

I will be updating this page as I receive more information from Qatar Airways.

Click here for the official Passenger Guidelines covering this new policy.

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39 thoughts on “Ridiculous Deal: Qatar Airways allows FREE destination change up to 5,000 miles away”

  1. So how is your booking holding up? Qatar just had a policy change that allows flights to be carried over next year, did it apply to this ticket?

    Reply
    • I tried calling Qatar’s office in Malaysia a couple of days ago but the guy said that he couldn’t find Business Class flights next year. Will try again by calling straight to Doha and post about it if it’s successful. Please share if you manage to change yours. 🙂

      Reply
  2. I just tried booking SIN-OSL return today and called to change booking to SIN-TBS (Georgia, I know its shorter distance but the flight tend to be very expensive, so wanted to take this opportunity to get it). However, I called 3 times. First agent told me TBS is not 5,000 miles from Oslo, so not possible, im like what? 2nd one was not helpful at all and say you can only change if there’s flight cancellation. 3rd one says the same as 1st but more helpful. Eventually he said he look at the map at is definitely below 5,000 miles but the system just wouldn’t price that sector, so there’s no way he can override. I ended change booking to another destination (which almost everywhere in Europe, Africa and US, but just not the Tbilisi that I wanted, weird)

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing. That is indeed strange that the system can’t price SIN-DOH-TBS. And it is also disturbing how there are so many reports of CSOs giving false information.

      Reply
      • Ya, not exactly the best deal I’m getting but I’m okay. I eventually changed to Zagreb, Croatia (i know i know) when I got the chance to change to somewhere further like in the US/Canada, but I checked the price I paid for SIN-OSL is SGD760, still quite a good price to usual SIN-Zagreb price (i checked so far in google flight normally around SGD1.2K, cheap one being BA for SGD900 but long 8 hours transit and backtracking) and I get to choose fly out on Friday and return on Saturday night, with good flight timing and short transit at Doha.

        Reply
        • That is still a substantial saving. I realised recently too that there are not many flights flying into ZAG. Glad it all worked out for you. Travel safe!

          Reply
  3. Great! Once the ticket is changed to a desired itinerary using the high value routes, can the dates of the new itinerary be changed to 2021/2022 without penalties? For example, J class for J class even if there is a fare difference?

    Reply
  4. I just tried again and the CSO now says that AKL is beyond the 5000 miles radius of PNH. Hahahaha this is quite frustrating eh?

    Reply
  5. i would like to travel to SFO (am guessing changing the origin to anywhere in vietnam will be the best?) ..
    that will mean HAN>DOH>XXX>SFO?
    how can i find out what XXX is?

    Reply
    • I’m sure you know that SFO has to be within 5,000 miles from XXX. Since SFO is more than 5,000 miles away from PNH, why do you still want to fly from HAN?

      Reply
    • I called 800 189 1060 (Singapore office) at around 0100 hours today and was automatically redirected to Doha’s call center.

      Reply
  6. I just bought the same flight SGN-PNH-SGN after your update, just got off a 1-hour call with the CSO of Qatar Airways trying to rebooking to HAN-DOH-AKL-DOH-HAN. They told me that this re-routing is not applicable and I will need to pay the fare difference. Could I perhaps get in touch with you on more details of how you managed the re-booking?

    Reply
  7. Hi,

    Given that "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.", would it be possible to change the itinerary from HCM to Singapore as the starting and ending point then?

    Reply
    • I called 800 189 1060 (Singapore office) at around 0100 hours today and was automatically redirected to Doha’s call center.

      Reply
      • I got through by calling the SG Office and the CSO was so unhelpful! He was insistent that the origin cannot be changed, that AKL is outside of 5000nm from PNH and that he can’t rebooked. Annoying.

        Reply
          • When I was rejected by a 2nd CSO earlier on, I told the CSO I wanted to rebook to AKL to join my "friend" who managed to change his flight based on this policy. His response? "That is more than 5,000 miles and against the rules, Qatar will find and terminate his ticket"

    • I called 800 189 1060 (Singapore office) at around 0100 hours today and was automatically redirected to Doha’s call center.

      Reply
  8. Hi, thanks for this! Did they agree to a change to AKL without any issues? Distance from PNH to AKL seems to be more than 5000 miles according to GC Map. Also, any idea if we can change dates to an earlier date as well? Or only postponing is allowed. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I’m guessing they used nautical miles instead of miles. I’m not 100% sure that changing to an earlier date is allowed but I can’t see a reason why not.

      Reply
    • I asked if I could have a longer stay in DOH but was told that it has to be under 24 hours. So I took QR 977 from HAN to get about 5 hours in Al-Mourjan.

      Reply

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