Over the past few years, the Gulf carriers have quickly become international powerhouses, known for their opulent service and cabins. Of the three major gulf carriers, Qatar Airways is the smallest, and in many ways the most luxurious. Qatar’s new Qsuite business class has in many ways revolutionized business class seating, as well as taken the first step towards killing first class. Qatar’s explosive growth over the past decade has made it a formidable player, and its frequent flyer program, the Privilege Club, is no exception.
Similar to most other airlines, Qatar operates a 4 tiered frequent flyer program (including the introductory Burgundy tier). The three status tiers are Silver, Gold, and Platinum and translate to oneworld Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, respectively.
Similar to British Airways, Qatar measures status with points, called Qpoints.. Qpoints are awarded based on distance flown (per segment) and cabin travelled (per segment). The easiest way to calculate how many points you will earn on a particular trip is to use the calculator on Qatar’s site here. As is often the case on these calculators, everything is done per segment, you will need to enter each leg of your trip individually and add it all up.
Unlike British Airways, however, Qatar has different requirements for maintaining and achieving status. Hence, I’ve outlined the two below:
*Additionally, Qatar requires that you fly 4 segments within 12 months (or 8 in a 24 month period) on Qatar metal, OR that 20% of Qpoints were earned on flights marketed or operated by Qatar
As with the other gulf carriers, the Privilege Club operates on a rolling basis (as opposed to fixed calendar periods). Hence, you simply need to achieve the Qpoints for your status within any 12 months prior to expiration.
The Privilege Club offers the much-coveted perk of lounge access to status members; below I’ve outlined who has access to what lounge:
Burgundy: No lounge access
Silver: Access to the Oryx lounge in Doha
Gold: Access to the Oryx lounge in Doha, access to any oneworld sapphire (business class) lounge
Platinum: Access to the Oryx lounge in Doha, access to any oneworld emerald (first class) lounge, along with access to the arrivals lounge in Doha
As you may have noticed, Qatar’s amazing Al Mourjan Business and Al Safwa First lounges do not appear on the above list. By taking a page out of BA’s book, Qatar has created separate lounges for “true” premium passengers and oneworld elites. The only way to access the Al Mourjan and Al Safwa lounges is to be ticketed on a business or first class flight, respectively.
In light of this, it’s also important for me to note that Qatar does not provide lounge access for passengers who have done a day-of-travel upgrade using Qmiles, though lounge access is available if you have booked your ticket in advance.
As with most other frequent flyer programs, the Privilege Club offers priority benefits to its elite members in order to streamline the airport experience.
Qatar is unusual in that it offers priority check-in at outstations but not at its home base of Hamad airport in Doha. Silver and Gold members enjoy business class check-in, while Platinum members are welcome to use either first class or business class check-in counters, regardless of class of travel.
All three tiers enjoy priority boarding in line with their level; Silver members enjoy priority boarding over economy passengers, Gold members enjoy priority boarding along with business class passengers, and Platinum members enjoy first class boarding.
Additional baggage allowance:
Qatar is fairly unique in that it allows members to redeem Qmiles and Qcredits for additional baggage allowance. This seems to be the trend catching on in the industry, with Alex Cruz (CEO of BA) announcing a similar program, and we’ve also seen the US3, particularly Delta, try to implement a fully revenue-based program on both the earning and redemption side.
Silver members and higher enjoy access to “Preferred Seats” when travelling in economy. “Preferred Seats” are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis, and are located towards the front of the economy cabin.
Gold and Platinum members enjoy a guaranteed economy class seat when traveling on a revenue ticket, even on overbooked flights – granted the seat has been booked 48 hours in advance.
As with most frequent flyer programs, all members enjoy some degree of priority on a waitlist; Burgundy members enjoy priority over non-members, Silver receive priority over Burgundy, Gold over Silver, and Platinum over Gold.
Unlike many other carriers, Qatar’s platinum members enjoy fairly limited “special” benefits. Amongst these, however, are additional award availability in economy class, access to exclusive discounts, and no expiration of Qmiles.
Qatar has an amazing product when it comes to its planes and service, however, the Privilege Club is far from exceptional. The biggest edge Privilege Club members have over rival Emirates Skywards and Etihad Guest members is access to the oneworld alliance network. However, beyond that, I can’t see any reason to join the Privilege Club if you don’t actually fly Qatar very often or live in Doha.