Often overlooked by Australian frequent flyers, the Qatar Airways Privilege Club program has been brought back into the spotlight by the recent Qatar Airways status match for Virgin Australia Velocity members.
With most of these status matches now processed, many former Virgin Australia flyers now have newly-minted Qatar Airways Privilege Club status. So, what benefits does this come with, and how can you renew your Privilege Club status?
Let’s take a closer look at Qatar Airways Privilege Club status…
Qatar Airways status benefits
All Qatar Airways Privilege Club members start out as Burgundy (base level) members, and there are three status tiers: predictably named Silver, Gold and Platinum.
As Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, Silver, Gold & Platinum members also receive Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald benefits, respectively. This means you’ll receive reciprocal benefits when flying on any Oneworld airline, including Qantas.
When flying with Qantas, Privilege Club Gold members have access to domestic Qantas Club lounges and international Qantas Business lounges (assuming they are open). And Privilege Club Platinum members can use domestic Qantas Business lounges and international Qantas First class lounges, where available.
Other Oneworld alliance-wide benefits include increased baggage allowance, priority check-in and priority boarding. There are also some unique benefits offered with Qatar Airways status that include personalised luggage tags, Guest Lounge passes for use in Doha, discounts at Qatar Duty Free, and waived fees & better award availability when redeeming Qmiles (the currency of the Privilege Club program) for Qatar Airways award flights.
You may be able to access some benefits by simply showing your membership card when flying. But some partner airlines are likely to require that you add your Qatar Airways Privilege Club member to your flight booking/s. (Beware that if your Qatar Airways Privilege Club number is still listed on your boarding pass when you board your flight, you’ll probably be crediting your flight to Privilege Club – even if the flight is ineligible to earn Qmiles or Qpoints. See below for more information about earning Qpoints.)
A full list of Privilege Club tier benefits is available on the Qatar Airways website.
Qcredits for Gold and Platinum members
Qatar Airways Gold and Platinum members also receive Qcredits, which can be redeemed for a range of Qatar Airways services. Gold members automatically receive 40 Qcredits each membership year, and Platinum members earn 60 Qcredits, which are valid for 24 months (as long as you retain your tier).
Qcredits are redeemable for flight upgrades, excess baggage, to cover fees on award flights or for guest lounge access (available if the guest is travelling on Qatar Airways within 3 hours of the main member).
Award upgrades are subject to availability and are only available on flights operated by Qatar Airways. The Qcalculator will tell you how many Qcredits (or Qmiles) you need to upgrade a given flight. As an example, it would cost 39 Qcredits to upgrade from Economy to Business on a flight from Sydney to Doha, or 55 Qcredits to upgrade from Sydney to London (via Doha).
How to earn & renew Qatar Airways Privilege Club status
Qpoints are the equivalent to status credits, and count towards status qualification and retention in the Qatar Airways Privilege Club program. (Meanwhile, Qmiles are the program’s currency and can be redeemed for things like award flights and upgrades.)
Normally, you would need to earn the following amounts of Qpoints within any 12-month period to upgrade your status tier:
|Qpoints to upgrade||150||300||600|
|Qpoints to renew (in 1 year)||135||270||540|
|Qpoints to renew (in 2 years)||270||540||1,080|
There is also an additional requirement to earn status:
In addition to the above tier qualification and retention criteria, you will need to have earned at least 20% of your Qpoints or have flown 4 sectors (within 12 months prior to retention) or 8 sectors (within 24 months prior to retention) on flights either marketed* or operated** by Qatar Airways.
After upgrading, you would need to earn a slightly lower number of Qpoints (10% less than the amount required to upgrade) before your renewal date, 12 months later. At your renewal date, Qatar Airways considers the number of Qpoints you’ve earned in both the last 1 and 2 years. If you qualify on either count, your status will be renewed for another year. So, if you earned twice as many Qpoints as needed in one given year, you could theoretically earn no Qpoints in the following year and still requalify based on the number of Qpoints you’ve earned in the past two years.
Although Qatar Airways does not have a formal policy of “soft landings”, it appears that you would only be downgraded one tier at a time if you fail to requalify. So, if you now have Platinum status but don’t earn enough Qpoints to renew in the next 12 months, it is likely that you would drop down to Gold status (and not all the way to Burgundy) next year.
You could earn Qpoints when flying with Qatar Airways or any other Oneworld alliance airline. However, the rate at which you’ll earn Qpoints depends on the airline, route and fare class of your ticket. Some of the cheaper tickets on partner airlines, including Qantas, do not earn anything.
To give you an idea, you would earn at least 170 Qpoints for a return Qatar Airways Business class flight from Sydney to London (via Doha).
Alternatively, you could expect to earn between 6 and 12 Qpoints for a one-way Qantas Economy class flight from Sydney to Auckland. For Business class, you would earn 16 Qpoints.
Earning Qatar Airways Qpoints on Qantas flights
However – and this is a huge catch for Australian-based flyers – you cannot earn Qpoints on Qantas domestic flights unless they are part of the same ticket as an international flight marketed by either Qantas or Qatar Airways. The Qantas partner page on the Qatar Airways website states:
Accrual on Qantas domestic flights are only eligible when they are in conjunction with an international flight marketed by either Qantas or Qatar Airways on the same ticket.
In addition, most of the cheaper Qantas tickets are ineligible to earn anything. On international bookings, only the following Qantas fare classes will earn any Qmiles or Qpoints:
Basically, most Qantas Red e-Deal, Sale and Saver fares (except fare classes V and L) earn nothing in the Privilege Club program. But all Qantas Flex, Premium Economy, Business & First class fares are eligible to earn. (Premium Economy fares, which use the fare classes W, R & T, earn at Economy rates.) As Qantas does not tell you which fare class you’re booking online, this can be a minefield to navigate.
Status renewals for matched members
One of the benefits of participating in the recent Qatar Airways status match was that you’d be able to renew your status in 12 months by earning a reduced number of Qpoints:
The offer terms & conditions still state that the lower Qpoints required applies. However, the lower requirements do not appear to be reflected yet in Privilege Club members’ accounts.
It is also not clear whether members would be required to fly a minimum amount of Qatar Airways marketed or operated flights. We assume that this is not the case because the status match promotion conditions make no mention of this. In any case, it will be almost impossible for Australian-based members to renew their status next year if this requirement is enforced due to Australia’s international borders being closed!
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qatar Airways status match to Virgin Australia