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Revealed: Qatar Airways award rates using Alaska miles

Alaska Mileage Plan has started loading Qatar Airways award space, and if the rates are any indication of what's to come for other oneworld carriers... oh dear!

In December 2020 Qatar Airways forged a partnership with Alaska Airlines, giving Alaska’s Mileage Plan members the option to credit paid flights on the Middle East carrier to the popular programme, ahead of Qatar’s non-stop Doha-Seattle route and Alaska’s entry into the oneworld alliance.

Good news is that you have been able to credit all oneworld flights to Alaska since 31st March 2021, when the airline officially joined the oneworld alliance, but the Qatar pact came slightly ahead of that.

What we’ve been anticipating more than earning, however, are the award rates payable to redeem on Qatar Airways flights using Mileage Plan miles.

These were first promised from 31st March 2021, to coincide with Alaska’s oneworld entry, but it seems like Qatar Airways wanted Middle East rival Emirates out of the equation before reciprocal award booking was launched.

With the nine-year Alaska-Emirates partnership ending on 31st July, we were expecting to have Qatar awards come online on or after 1st August.

The Qatar Airways Qsuite. (Image: Qatar Airways)

Well Alaska hasn’t yet published its Qatar Airways award chart, but we noticed today that is has started loading Qatar Airways awards to Mileage Plan members through its website.

Redeeming Alaska miles on Qatar Airways

Based on our searches, Qatar Airways has not opened its full network to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members at this stage.

That should follow later this year when Alaska rolls out all oneworld redemptions to its members. For now, it’s only possible to redeem flights between the following regions:

  • Middle East to/from Asia, Canada / USA, Europe, India / S. Asia, Middle East, South Pacific
  • Canada / USA to/from Africa, India / S. Asia, Middle East

Notable exceptions for our readers, based on searches, include Asia to/from Europe and the USA, so it looks as though we have no published rates yet for routings like Singapore – London or Singapore – New York.

Here’s how the award rates compare on the sole zone apparently available from Singapore, to the Middle East (e.g. Doha, Amman, Dubai)

Qatar Airways redemption
(One-way)
FFP Singapore – Middle East
Economy Business
QRtrans 25,000
+S$60
50,000
+S$60
AM Logo trans 27,000
+S$429
61,000
+S$429
AVIOStrans 20,750
+S$429
62,000
+S$429
30,000
+S$72
70,000
+S$72
QFFtrans 30,200
+S$429
75,000
+S$429
MHtrans 41,000
+S$429
82,000
+S$429

This itinerary comes in at 40% more miles than Qatar Airways is offering through its own Privilege Club programme in Business Class.

Here’s how it looks to and from the Middle East:

Alaska miles redemption
to/from Middle East
(One-way)
Zone Qatar Airways
Economy Business
Asia 30,000
70,000
Canada / USA 42,500
85,000
Europe 25,000 65,000
India / S. Asia 17,500 40,000
Middle East 17,500 40,000
South Pacific 45,000 100,000

These are the rates starting or ending in Canada or the USA:

Alaska miles redemption
to/from Canada / USA
(One-way)
Zone Qatar Airways
Economy Business
Africa 50,000
120,000
India / S. Asia 42,500
85,000
Middle East 42,500
85,000

The only reasonable rate here is for travel between India and South Asia to or from the USA (e.g. from the Maldives to Los Angeles via Doha), at 85,000 miles in Business Class.

That’s similar to the rate Alaska is already offering using Emirates (82,500 miles), but the Qsuite is a world apart from any Emirates Business Class seat!

Variable pricing?

Apart from the high award rates, here’s another potential downside regarding the ability to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles on Qatar Airways flights.

On flights to and from the USA and Canada, we noticed that a variable pricing structure seems to exist, with certain flights coming in at a higher (perhaps ‘flexi’) rate compared to the cheapest redemptions.

Some itineraries price higher than others

It will be interesting to see whether the final published chart includes variable pricing for Qatar Airways redemptions using Alaska Miles between other zones, but so far we could only identify this pattern on routings to and from the USA.

Qatar Airways wouldn’t be the only Alaska Mileage Plan partner with this policy – Aer Lingus award flights using Alaska miles are also priced dynamically based on demand.

Aer Lingus flights are already priced variably when using Alaska miles

Edit: Higher award rates on Qatar appear to be available on dates when award space is not available, effectively ‘forcing’ a redemption on some flights at very high cost.

Is it good value?

Most of our readers in Asia accrue their miles in the Alaska programme by buying them at a discount in one of the airline’s regular sales.

Prices vary depending on the exact deal offered, but broadly speaking over the years we have recommended buying only at 40% to 60% bonus rates, which has meant paying 1.72 to 2.11 US cents per mile to top up.

With 70,000 miles needed just to fly from Singapore to Doha in the Qsuite, that’s equivalent to paying over US$1,200 (over S$1,600)! Clearly that’s very poor value, compared to the far superior Alaska miles options (e.g. Cathay Pacific Asia-USA).

Award space

Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that does not offer more award space to its Privilege Club (QRPC) members compared to partner programmes.

For example, if two seats in Business Class are available to QRPC members, they are also available to redeem using Avios, Asia Miles and American AAdvantage miles. Qatar Airways does not discriminate!

Alaska Mileage Plan seems no different, with identical award space showing up through the programme compared to QRPC and other oneworld partners based on our searches so far (on eligible routings).

4 Qsuite award seats on a Doha – Frankfurt flight in May next year using Alaska miles
The same flight has 4 seats available with other oneworld partners, like British Airways

The only additional award space you’ll be able to access as a QRPC member on Qatar Airways flights is the programme’s ‘Flexi awards’, though these cost double the usual miles rate and are therefore hardly ever an attractive option.

Fuel surcharge

Qatar Airways adds a hefty fuel surcharge to its tickets, and most partner frequent flyer programmes pass this on to customers when they book using miles or points.

The good news is that in common with American AAdvantage and Qatar’s own Privilege Club, Alaska Mileage Plan also is not levying the fuel surcharge on Qatar Airways award tickets.

You may have noticed this in the Singapore – Doha award table above, where it means the difference between paying around S$72 using Alaska miles to S$429 with some other schemes.

Stopovers

We tested several stopover options in our searches using Alaska miles for Qatar Airways, but we could not make a single one work. This may be added later, but for now it’s safe to assume there will be no such benefit when redeeming.

What this indicates for oneworld awards

Alaska Mileage Plan is continuing to expand its partner airline redemption options with a new (apparently partial) award chart for Qatar Airways flights in the works, but we think it’s likely that the airline will roll out a harmonised mileage rate table for all oneworld carriers later this year.

While that’s not 100% guaranteed, it’s the way most carriers deal with redemptions on carriers within the same alliance when using miles.

These Qatar Airways award rates are not at all attractive, with a simple Singapore – Doha redemption in Business Class costing 70,000 miles.

That probably spells some misery to come for Alaska Mileage Plan’s existing ‘sweet spots’ with Cathay Pacific and JAL.

For example, Alaska Mileage Plan allows redemptions on Cathay Pacific from the USA to South Africa (e.g. Los Angeles to Johannesburg via Hong Kong) for an incredible 62,500 miles in Business Class.

Using Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific is an excellent option… for now. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

The same routing via Doha on Qatar Airways is at least 120,000 miles in Business Class (the same as Alaska’s Emirates rate). Such a disparity is unlikely to continue once all oneworld partners are on board.

Good news is Alaska has committed to giving us good notice if devaluations are coming up, for example to the existing Cathay Pacific or JAL award charts.

“We will strive to give at least 90 days’ notice if changes are coming to any current partner awards”

Alaska Airlines

We gave our opinion on how the new rates might look in our recent musings on the airline’s oneworld integration, and it generally doesn’t look too good.

Summary

Information about the full Qatar Airways award chart using Alaska miles is still a bit limited, but we’ve done our best here with numerous searches to reveal the rates and permitted zone combinations, based on what Alaska Airlines has loaded so far.

It’s disappointing not to see any Asia – Europe or Asia – US options, though given the rates generally offered on other zone combinations it wouldn’t have been worth it anyway.

We’ve already been bracing ourselves for a devaluation to the Alaska miles award rates applicable with Cathay Pacific and JAL once the remaining oneworld carriers are folded into the system, and this likely first indication for Qatar Airways redemptions isn’t reassuring!

All we can really hope for now is that Alaska retains separate award charts for each of its oneworld partners, though this would make award itineraries involving multiple airlines on the same ticket (e.g. Cathay Pacific and Qatar) difficult to administer.

In the meantime, we can probably rest assured that cashing out of the Alaska programme, if necessary, should still be possible by making existing ‘sweet spot’ redemptions within a 90-day notice window – for flights well into 2022.

(Cover Photo: Airbus)

3 comments

    1. So far, stopover only available for US-middle east/Africa. Even don’t have US-Southeast Asia or North Asia or Australia as a valid route

  1. “With 70,000 miles needed just to fly from Singapore to Doha in the Qsuite, that’s equivalent to paying over US$1,200 (over S$1,600)! Clearly that’s very poor value compared to the much better Alaska miles options.“ second sentence doesn’t really make sense?

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