Last week we reported on the disappointing news that British Airways had made yet another stealth no-notice devaluation for award bookings using Avios points on two popular Oneworld partners in the Asia-Pacific region – Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.
It’s meant some short-haul “sweet spots” using this frequent flyer programme had been further eroded for the second time in two years with no communication whatsoever to members – a pretty dreadful way to treat your loyal customers.
There’s some good news though, for now at least.
Qatar Privilege Club partner award rates haven’t changed
Back in June this year, Qatar Airways cut its award rates for Oneworld and partner airlines to match the British Airways Avios chart, with pricing on a per-sector basis.
Here’s how it looks.
Partner Award Chart
(since 19th June 2023)
The good news here is that Qatar Airways does not apply a different award rate for redemptions on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, like British Airways has been doing since 2021 and just hiked again in isolation from its other partner rates last week.
It means you can still access the lower award levels in the table above when redeeming Avios on these two carriers for good value intra-Asia bookings like Singapore to Hong Kong or Tokyo to Sapporo, but in order to do so there are a couple of annoying hoops to jump through.
You must link your BAEC and QRPC accounts
If you have Avios in your British Airways Executive Club account, in order to move them instantly 1:1 into Qatar Airways Avios you will need to have an account with both airlines with a matching name in order to link the two accounts.
Head for Points has an excellent guide on how to complete this process.
Award booking is offline
Unfortunately, unlike bookings via the British Airways Executive Club, Qatar Airways does not support online booking for partner flights (except those operated by British Airways and American Airlines).
Since you’ll need to redeem Avios via Qatar Airways to secure these lower award rates on Cathay Pacific and JAL, you’ll need to follow the offline booking process.
That means you’ll have to search partner award availability first (ideally via the American Airlines or BA Avios Portal), then complete the booking request form via QRPC in order for them to ticket your itinerary.
This must be done a minimum of 96 hours (four days) prior to the commencement of travel, so unfortunately it’s no good for a short-term award booking – you’ll have to do that via BA wholly online at the higher rates.
It works – and pricing is at the lower rates
Here’s an example for a Singapore – Hong Kong award itinerary on Cathay Pacific in Business Class that I just locked in with my Avios via Qatar Airways, which took about 24 hours to be confirmed.
First I searched the award space via my British Airways Executive Club account.
I decided to try and lock in the 12:55 CX690 flight, for which BA now wants 32,500 Avios + S$101.50 to book.
Now that I knew space was available, I logged on to my QRPC account, then navigated to Privilege Club > Redeem my Avios > Spend on other partner airlines.
That allows you to search flights for your desired partner (Cathay Pacific in this case) and routing. Don’t get too excited – all flights appear, whether award space is available or not!
You can then choose the flight you want, and proceed to complete the booking request.
You must have sufficient Avios in your Qatar Airways account in order to make the request (22,000 in this case).
An agent then checks the space within 48 hours (for me, it was completed 24 hours later) and tickets the itinerary if available, then deducts the Avios from your account.
Your award is then ticketed and on hold, and in the meantime Qatar Airways will send you a link to make payment for the applicable taxes and fees in order to finalise the booking.
Qatar Airways gives you 48 hours (two days) to pay the taxes and fees for the booking, otherwise it will be cancelled and the Avios will be redeposited into your account.
Following the payment link and entering your booking PNR and last name will bring up the payment confirmation.
Once payment is made, the award is immediately confirmed.
I can now access the booking via the Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific sites, make seat selection, etc…
Offline booking is certainly less than ideal, and hopefully a fully online search and booking function can be established by the airline in future, but at least this allows you to secure Cathay and JAL awards at these lower rates.
What awards does this unlock?
Booking Cathay Pacific and JAL award tickets of under 3,000 miles via the Qatar Airways Privilege Club is now definitely worth the added hassle of making an offline request, with savings of between 17% and 45% on the number of points needed to secure an award.
Here’s how it looks for Cathay Pacific flights.
Cathay Pacific Award Rates
|Hong Kong – Taipei||9,750||6,000
|Singapore – Bangkok
Hong Kong – Shanghai
|Singapore – Hong Kong
Hong Kong – Beijing
Hong Kong – Tokyo
|Hong Kong – Bali||15,600||13,000
As you can see Singapore to Hong Kong in Business Class is back to 22,000 Avios, while Singapore to Bangkok (a route the airline hasn’t restarted yet, but hopefully will reinstate soon) is back to 16,500 Avios.
Those rates compare to 34,000 KrisFlyer miles and 24,000 KrisFlyer miles respectively when redeeming a saver award with Singapore Airlines on the same route.
Here’s how it looks for JAL flights.
JAL Award Rates
|Tokyo – Osaka
Tokyo – Sapporo
|Fukuoka – Sapporo
Tokyo – Seoul
Tokyo – Shanghai
|Tokyo – Taipei
Tokyo – Hong Kong
|Bangkok – Tokyo||15,600||13,000
This booking option restores good value domestic redemptions with JAL, starting at just 6,000 Avios one-way in Economy Class, with very minimal taxes to pay.
Cancellation fees for partner flights booked with QRPC Avios
If you cancel a partner flight booked using Qatar Privilege Club Avios, the same cancellation and change fees apply as they do when you book a Qatar Airways flight through the programme.
If you cancel your flight:
- More than 24 hours before departure: 100% of your Avios and all taxes and fees will be refunded, less a US$25* cancellation fee per person.
- Between 3 hours and 24 hours before departure: 100% of your Avios and all taxes and fees will be refunded, less a US$100* cancellation fee per person.
- Less than 3 hours before departure: Avios and fees are forfeited (no refund). Only eligible airport and government taxes will be refunded.
* Free for QRPC Gold and Platinum members
Citi transfers to BAEC are quicker
Here’s a tip for those transferring Citi Miles or Citi ThankYou points into Avios points.
You might think for an award redemption like this that you’ll be redeeming via QRPC, the quickest way to credit your account would be to transfer from Citi directly to QRPC Avios, but that’s actually not the case.
Citi transfers to British Airways Avios take only 24 hours, but those to Qatar Privilege Club Avios take 48 hours.
It’s therefore better to transfer to BA initially, then once they credit the following day make the instant 1:1 transfer across to Qatar Airways in order to then complete the request form for your desired Cathay or JAL redemption.
Since you’ll be keeping your fingers crossed that the award you want to book remains available when the agent responds to your offline service request, every little time saving you can achieve is essential!
British Airways devalued its Avios points when redeeming shorter Cathay Pacific or JAL flights for the second time in two years last week, eliminating many “sweet spot” awards in the region.
The good news is that a few months ago Qatar Airways harmonised its partner award chart for Avios redemptions with the British Airways one, applying the same 2019 rates across all carriers, including Cathay Pacific and JAL.
With BAEC and QRPC accounts linked, you can make unlimited free 1:1 transfers between the two programmes, so the simple solution here is to transfer your Avios over to Qatar Airways and book these awards via that platform, for a lot less than BA is now charging!
I tried it out and can confirm it works a treat, though the offline process means you’ll have to wait around a day or so to have your award ticket confirmed, then pay the taxes separately within a couple of days to lock the redemption in.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)