By Hemal Gosai
Opinion: A Look into Qatar Airways’ Adoption of Avios
Last year, I wrote about how Qatar Airways has a lot of potential with its loyalty program. The carrier had made a number of positive changes to its loyalty program during a time when a lot of airlines were cutting back on benefits and subsequently devaluing their programs.
Earlier this year in February, Qatar Airways announced that the airline will drop its QMiles and instead will be using Avios — the same loyalty program currency used by the International Airlines Group (IAG) carriers such as British Airways and Iberia. This made sense given that Qatar Airways owns a quarter of IAG.
There were some mixed thoughts about this. British Airways used Avios as their loyalty program currency and it wasn’t that compelling. High redemption costs and high fuel surcharges and taxes made the program relatively unattractive. There was concern that Qatar Airways may follow the same route as British Airways since they’d both be using Avios. However, it’s pretty clear now that Qatar Airways has realized its full potential when it comes to offering a valuable loyalty program.
Fortunately for consumers, this turned out to not be the case. The adoption of Avios did not mean that Qatar Airways would also be adopting British Airways’ loyalty business model.
Qatar Airways is charging some surcharges, but they’re relatively modest and in the hundreds of dollars that often come from redeeming Avios in the British Airways program. This is probably one of the biggest positives to come out of the program. This really makes it compelling for people to put effort into accruing Avios in Qatar Airways’ program because it genuinely provides a better alternative than certain other airlines.
In addition, there are a number of other benefits that come out of this switch to Avios.
The first and most notable is that Qatar Airways is now offering a commitment that on every flight, they will have at least 2 premium cabin award seats and 5 economy award seats available. This increases opportunities for frequent flyer program members to use their miles.
Over the past couple of months, Qatar Airways has made a concerted effort to improve its loyalty program and make it more relevant to people outside of its home base in Qatar. The airline offers a great product when it comes to flying but in many cases, the loyalty program was lacking. These recent changes are really changing the dynamic. The folks at Qatar Airways are figuring out how to leverage their brand through the loyalty program to drive people to Avios and therefore Qatar Airways.
In the United States, Avios is not a foreign loyalty program and is a common, popular mileage program for frequent fliers to use when planning a trip. People may already have Avios from flights flown on British Airways or Iberia.
In addition to that, it’s considerably easy for people to jump into the Avios program at Qatar Airways because people with points in banking and credit card loyalty programs can easily transfer their points into Avios to redeem, for flights with Qatar Airways.
This instant start with Qatar Airways allows someone who doesn’t regularly fly with the airline to build up a balance and start redeeming right away.
It took Qatar Airways some time to put the pieces together. However, they have finally realized their full potential and have put together a highly compelling loyalty program for people in both North America and Europe to easily participate in during their travels.