As Fine Travel’s most popular Business Class option to the UK and Europe of 2019, it was encouraging to see Qatar Airways start offering a Business Class alternative for travellers from New Zealand who need to get to the UK and Europe (despite border restrictions at the time).
Qatar Airways was one of the last international airlines to halt its flights to New Zealand and its hub in Doha remained open for transit passengers (unlike many of its competitors).
What is available
Qatar Airways became well known in the New Zealand market for aggressively discounting Business Class airfares, the long direct flight between Auckland and Doha and then the release of the revolutionary and highly acclaimed Business Class Qsuite.
Although Qatar Airways had anticipated recommencing its direct flight between Auckland and Doha at the end of May 2020, ongoing border quarantine measures and overall weak demand for international travel has delayed this with flights continuing to operate via Australia (Brisbane and Adelaide).
Qatar Airways Flexibility Policy
In our article on what to consider before booking flights to the UK and Europe again, we discussed uncertainty in the Covid-19 environment and ensuring there is a plan if you are prevented from travelling.
Qatar Airways offers a comprehensive “Travel with Confidence” policy that is regularly updated and that your Fine Travel Consultant can discuss with you. Importantly it currently includes (at the time of writing) a refund option for Involuntary Changes / Disruptions (airport closures, flight cancellations etc). For Voluntary Changes (where you can still travel but choose not to) credit options are available rather than refunds.
Restrictions in Doha
Passengers who are transiting through Doha, and not leaving the airport, are not required to present any test results or certifications above the requirements of their departure or destination country.
Australian border restrictions
Australia has relaxed its border restrictions for New Zealand passport holders who are in transit, however pre-departure testing requirements are currently still in place. More details can be found on the Australian Border Control Covid-19 website.
International border restrictions
Although international border restrictions are now more settled, new Covid-19 variants could create future uncertainty. IATA provides current information on its dedicated Covid-19 Regulations website.
Before travelling, please check with your travel insurance company to see what cover they are providing for international travel. Many companies are now excluding any claims associated with Covid-19 (including medical claims).