As we look ahead to the prospect of even more quarantine and regulation free travel in 2022, we look at the changes Qatar Airways has made to its discounted Business Class airfares from New Zealand to the UK and Europe.
In our article, Does choosing a discounted Business Class airfare mean missing out?, we explored some of the history of the different discounted airfares that airlines were offering at the time. Qatar Airways made an aggressive play for the New Zealand travellers Business Class dollar and the launch of its Qsuite was a significant competitive move. Once Qatar Airways had cemented its position in the New Zealand market, we saw its prices drift upwards towards its main competitors in the Premium Business Class space.
When Qatar Airways first arrived in New Zealand, for us to find the cheapest Qatar Airways Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe for Fine Travel clients we were hunting for the increasing elusive “R Class” booking class. This booking class had the benefits of the more expensive Business Class airfares, without the higher price tag. In theory, when we wrote about planning ahead for the cheapest Business Class airfares, the expectation was that the greatest number of airfares at the R Class level would be available early in the season. Due to its popularity though, Qatar Airways started to release more “I Class” airfares and fewer R Class airfares. The result? Although discounted Business Class airfares to the UK and Europe were available, fewer were being sold as Qatar Airways appeared to try and align its pricing with the likes of Emirates and Singapore Airlines (rather than China Southern and Korean Air).
Since Qatar Airways returned to New Zealand skies (via Australia) the airline has taken the opportunity to segment its Business Class offering, and has introduced “Business Class Lite” or “P Class”. The full Qatar Airways Business Class offering is now:
- Lite – P Class = Additional charges for seat selection and lounge access (75% qmiles accumulation)
- Classic – R Class = Additional charge for seat selection, but lounge access is included (125% qmiles accumulation)
- Comfort – I and D Class = Seat selection and lounge access included (175% qmiles accumulation)
- Elite – C and J Class = Seat selection and lounge access included (200% qmiles accumulation)
So what does this mean for Fine Travel clients? Depending on the price difference, booking the more expensive airfare with the full Business Class benefits may be the easy solution. There are options to purchase lounge access so if you do decide on Business Class Lite, and find waiting in the departure lounge to be too much, you have that flexibility (One World Members may also be able to rely on a higher tier level for complimentary lounge access).
Practically we are finding that Qatar Airways is releasing very few, if any, Business Class Lite options on their flights to the UK and Europe. As capacity and demand increases (and competition) we may see more P Class options available.
Overall these adjustments by Qatar Airways reflect a continuation of a move from their aggressive entry into the New Zealand market, and then subsequently adjusting the prices and Business Class benefits to be in line with the quality product they offer. Having won Airline of the Year 2021 by AirlineRatings Qatar Airways will no doubt feel justified in its moves.