Qatar Airways axes lounge access for upgraded passengers

Qatar Airways axes lounge access for upgraded passengers

Savvy travellers using frequent flyer points to upgrade to business class or first class with Qatar Airways will no longer receive airport lounge access before their upgraded flight, unless their original ticket or frequent flyer status already provides this perk.

For example, passengers who book an economy class flight and upgrade to business class using ‘Qmiles’ or ‘Qcredits’ via the airline’s Privilege Club loyalty program won’t be welcome at the airline’s Al Mourjan business class lounge in Doha, or other business class lounges around the globe.

Qatar Airways' Al Mourjan lounge is now off-limits to upgraded passengers...

Similarly, jetsetters who upgrade from business class to first class won’t enjoy Al Safwa first class lounge access in Doha, or first class lounges in other ports such as in Sydney and Melbourne – instead, being sent to the relevant business class lounge, in line with their original ticket.

Qantas lounges also blocked to upgraders

On flights departing Australia, Qatar Airways prints either "QF Business Lounge" or "QF First Lounge" on each boarding pass, depending on which lounge the passenger is entitled to visit: so even with an upgraded first class boarding pass, there's no access to the Qantas first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, because it won't show that magic phrase, "QF First Lounge".

An internal memo issued by Qatar Airways’ GS Policies and Procedures department and sighted by Australian Business Traveller  outlines the restrictions, which took effect from February 5. The airline's website has since been updated to reflect the change, noting that “lounge access will be provided as per (the) originally ticketed cabin.”

Under the airline’s previous policy, only passengers who upgraded to business class at the airport on the day of departure were denied lounge access – with those upgrading to first class given only business class lounge access – with this latest change expanding the policy to cover all upgraded passengers.

Travellers who upgrade their flight using money via Qatar’s ‘Upgrade offer’ system are also ineligible for lounge access unless already included with the ticket they originally purchased.

However, it’s understood that passengers who use frequent flyer points to book Qatar Airways business class or first class reward flights outright – as opposed to upgrading an existing ticket – will continue to receive lounge access in line with the class they book.

Seperate lounges for frequent flyers

Frequent flyer members can also continue accessing airport lounges based on their frequent flyer status, including on upgraded tickets, but in Doha, the lounges those members can access are separate to the ‘real’ business class and first class lounges, and are of a significantly lower standard.

For instance, Platinum-grade frequent flyers can only use a segregated ‘first class lounge’ in Doha, which, despite the name, is only utilised by those who've booked economy tickets, and is a far cry from the lavish Al Safwa first class lounge, restricted to non-upgraded first class flyers only.

Gold-tier travellers are also stuck using the ‘business class lounge’ when flying in economy or business class following an upgrade, rather than the true Al Mourjan business class lounge which is significantly larger (and nicer).

As part of this month’s changes, passengers who upgrade their flight also won’t get the bigger baggage allowance of the higher cabin – instead, their baggage limit will remain as per the ticket originally purchased.

Australian Business Traveller has contacted Qatar Airways for comment.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

61 comments

  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    7 Feb, 2018 12:24 pm

    what a load of bollocks
    Member who gave thanks

    booyeahsydney

  • Davedownunder

    Davedownunder

    7 Feb, 2018 04:52 pm

    Probably more of a case of stupidity rather than bollock. Costs virtually nothing to provide yet massive in terms of reputation.

    No member give thanks

  • Purpledecker

    Purpledecker

    7 Feb, 2018 12:28 pm

    Qatar's Oneworld membership is a joke..... You don't even earn basic FF or Status points unless you pay ridiculous money....

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  • ScottB

    ScottB

    7 Feb, 2018 03:14 pm

    QFF point and SC earn rates for partner airlines are dictated by Qantas, not the partner.
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    7 Feb, 2018 03:23 pm

    Scott: Actually, the number of points awarded relies on an agreement between both Qantas and the partner airline, and in most cases it's up to the partner airline to decide which fare letters will and won't earn points, and then the airlines have to come to an agreement on which fares will be categoried as flexible/normal/discount within each travel class (e.g. flexible economy v.s. discount economy) under Qantas' newer zone-based system, which impacts the number of points that the partner airline has to pay for, and the number of status credits that can be earned.

    In this case, Qatar Airways chooses not to offer Qantas Points or status credits on its lower-cost economy fares, much like Cathay Pacific chooses the same for its lower-cost economy fares (and doesn't award Asia Miles on those same tickets).
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  • Joshb

    Joshb

    7 Feb, 2018 12:39 pm

    Jeez seems a bit petty
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  • russell

    russell

    7 Feb, 2018 12:44 pm

    James Hogan over at Etihad..."why didn't I think of that?".
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  • Dean

    deanr

    7 Feb, 2018 12:48 pm

    James Hogan has long left Etihad after losing the airline nearly a billion dollars from his failed investments in other loss-making airlines...
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  • DWB6265

    DWB6265

    7 Feb, 2018 01:00 pm

    Used lots of QF points to purchase F cls DOH-SYD but the lounge in DOH was well worth the points burn.
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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 04:40 pm

    you likely snuck in before their new rules took affect re lounge access.
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    7 Feb, 2018 04:48 pm

    Crosscourt: As noted in the article, lounge access continues to be provided when you book a Qatar Airways business class or first class flight outright using frequent flyer points (such as by using Qantas Points) - what's changing here is access for passengers who use points to upgrade (which you can't do on Qatar with Qantas Points).
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  • AlexTravAddict

    AlexTravAddict

    7 Feb, 2018 01:09 pm

    I'm Oneworld Emerald with Qantas and fly internationally often but have never actually flown on a Qatar flight. Why would I when they offer FFs such poor perks (especially compared to other OW Airlines/ Emirates)? This is another reason to add to the list for not flying Qatar. On the one hand I get that they want to provide a premium service to their full paying First and Business class travellers, but on the other hand they are missing opportunities to showcase the best they have to offer to OWs best customers.
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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 04:42 pm

    because they are typically petty. they don't look at a bigger picture. they are blinkered.
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  • mo

    mo

    7 Feb, 2018 01:25 pm

    Seems extraordinarily petty.
    Member who gave thanks

    RSD

  • turbojezz

    turbojezz

    7 Feb, 2018 01:34 pm

    wow, just wow...
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  • Strvdv86 Cop

    Copland

    7 Feb, 2018 01:45 pm

    Not a great way to reward or encourage loyalty!
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  • hwle

    hwle

    7 Feb, 2018 01:50 pm

    Everyone says this seems petty, but QR are just following the policy of EK who have had this for a while.
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  • Dean

    deanr

    7 Feb, 2018 01:56 pm

    No, they're not. Emirates only bars lounge access if you upgrade through one of their discounted cash upgrade offers, not if you use Skywards miles to upgrade. I used miles to upgrade my family to business class recently on Emirates' Melbourne-Singapore flight, and there were no issues with lounge access. Emirates even gives you the chauffeur service too!
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  • J Russo

    JamesRusso

    7 Feb, 2018 02:11 pm

    This is so ridiculous.. Does anyone else agree that is seems to be most premium carriers are in a race to the bottom? In the sense of removing more and more perks from frequent flyers.. and I’m sure qantas will promptly follow suit when they hear about this.. but I’m left wondering where’s the ‘premium-ness’ in all the changes? Most carriers won’t through tag bags anymore unless your entire itinerary is in the one reservation, you even need to pay for Exit rows domestically with QF, now you can’t use lounges if you’ve used points to move to a premium cabin anymore, next they’ll take international travel to Europe back to 23kg in Y class.. it seems to me the carriers who want us all to pay them a premium are providing us with less and less. The industry is becoming jetstarised.. and people specifically don’t use them for reasons like this.
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  • zoomzoom

    zoomzoom

    7 Feb, 2018 02:50 pm

    This is a joke............nice seats but they are cheap and mean...........baggage policy is a joke also.
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  • xtfer

    xtfer

    7 Feb, 2018 02:56 pm

    I can only assume this comes from attempting to optimise revenue per passenger per mile. An upgraded passenger makes no money for the airline vs a fully paying customer.

    The majority of upgrader's probably also have sufficient lounge status, and they've bargained that those who don't are not worth attempting to retain.

    They are probably right.
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  • michael.oleary

    michael.oleary

    7 Feb, 2018 04:22 pm

    "An upgraded passenger makes no money for the airline vs a fully paying customer." - I always thought that a points transfer from AMEX to the partner airlines meant a monetary transfer? Is this not the case? Also If I'm planning to upgrade from economy using points I generally go for a freedom or flexi fare. If I wasn't upgrading I'd be aiming for the lowest fare possible (to suit my travel plan). The difference between a saver and flexi is considerable in many cases. Hey that's just thoughts.
    Member who gave thanks

    Jflyer

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    7 Feb, 2018 05:00 pm

    Michael: Yes, when frequent flyer points are issued, somebody is 'paying' the airline for them: so if you're converting points across from a credit card, your credit card issuer is basically 'buying' those points from the airline on your behalf at an agreed rate.

    Most other airlines like passengers who upgrade because they get to book revenue from the fare they initially paid for and simultaneously reduce a liability on their balance sheet when the passenger redeems their miles at what represents a minimal cost to the airline (if the premium seat would have otherwise flown empty, which is usually what the airline is expecting when points upgrades are made available, the main cost differences are in catering). So, they can fill a premium seat that would have otherwise been vacant with a happy customer, avoid giving out free 'operational upgrades' if the flight is oversold, and potentially even re-sell the economy seat that the upgraded passenger initially paid for, to earn extra revenue.

    Compared to other airlines, Qatar's approach under these changes is odd and rather unique, to say the least.

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  • mo

    mo

    7 Feb, 2018 06:33 pm

    I agree ChrisCh. Credit card companies have bought these points from airlines for real money at negotiated rates. Airlines are a little sneaky in that they usually only allow passengers to redeem these points for otherwise unsold seats. Consequently the cost to the airline of providing these upgrades should be minimal, especially given that ancillary costs (taxes etc) have already been paid or will be passed on to the passenger as a surcharge.

    Hence it seems especially mean-spirited to restrict aspects of the premium experience when in reality the airlines are always getting paid.
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  • Tim

    timhill

    7 Feb, 2018 10:06 pm

    Hey Chris, I find this fascinating. Do you know what the credit card issuers / partners would roughly be paying the airlines for points? Obviously they would be buying hundreds of millions / billions of points at a time. Some people in this thread have suggested that a passenger buying a J fare is on par with a revenue passenger in terms of revenue to the airline. I always thought a points passenger in J yields significantly less revenue since credit card issuers negotiate bargain basement rates on points?
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  • Rhorgan

    Rhorgan

    7 Feb, 2018 03:07 pm

    Cruising the high seas, seems to be a better option for those seeking travel comforts. It seems that most Airlines are stripping FF to the bones.
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  • Mark Taylor

    austravel

    7 Feb, 2018 03:11 pm

    Seem to recall that SQ had a similar policy when I was using their lounge as a Virgin Platinum FF member. I was unable to access their Premium lounge in Singapore.
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    7 Feb, 2018 09:08 pm

    How is that similar? Were you using points to upgrade economy to business on SQ or just trying to use Virgin Status to get into the silver kris lounge?
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    8 Feb, 2018 09:47 am

    SQ's policy has nothing to do with upgrading...that's just you trying to get into a lounge that requires a J boarding pass, upgraded or otherwise. Krisflyer gold lounge is specifically for pax in Y who have status.
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  • MarkJohnSon

    MarkJohnSon
    Banned

    7 Feb, 2018 03:11 pm

    A lot of the recent cutting by the ME3 has been prudent, in my view (who really expects a barber shop in a lounge?).

    This, however, is huge, and an utter disappointment by the lads in Doha. What a joke.
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  • bl812

    bl812

    7 Feb, 2018 03:14 pm

    Good idea,I who pay 6000 dollars for a return business ticket deserve better to use the lounge than those who want to get in by collecting miles and fly cheap!Singapore does it as I experienced their first class lounge recently,tomorrow will be Qatar business,less crowd in those lounges finally some real good idea!
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 04:44 pm

    give me a break ... by using points you are actually spending more
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  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    7 Feb, 2018 03:14 pm

    Give me a break!! This is as bad as etihads recent cutbacks
    No member give thanks

  • grov

    grov

    7 Feb, 2018 03:15 pm

    Happy with this, because it means that the Doha lounges are not as crowded as the EK Dubai zoo, which is another reason why I prefer to fly Qatar.
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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 03:23 pm

    Why isn't Qatar brought into line by the one world alliance members? One way to annoy them is restricted their passengers with other one works carriers. They are such a frustrating airline. Nothing changes my mind in saying the ME carriers have no substance. QR leads all. They are so up themselves.
    No member give thanks

  • Mr Miyagi

    Mr Miyagi
    Banned

    7 Feb, 2018 04:27 pm

    Because OW condones their behaviour. Clearly not in the spirit of an alliance. Status is meant to confer equivalents benefits at J and F level bar the seat itself. Qatar should be expelled. Petty scum.
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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 04:38 pm

    Qatar is not a good airline. Almost every time I've flown QR there is an issue. They are a supercilious mob. They sent me a $250 apology voucher last year, it still sits in the drawer and wont be used.
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  • bee

    bee

    7 Feb, 2018 03:25 pm

    Thanks, I will remeber that when upgrading next and know not to bother with these airlines....


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  • Mark  Klapish

    Markhk60

    7 Feb, 2018 03:29 pm

    So I’ve booked bc out of Adelaide to Doha an$ then on to London with BA do I get to use the Qatar bc lounge or the BA lounge I’m there fo 4 hours
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  • Happy Trails

    Happy Trails

    7 Feb, 2018 03:57 pm

    If your onward BA flight is in business you can can use any of Qatar Business, Al Mourjan or the BA nominated Oryx.

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  • eminere

    eminere

    7 Feb, 2018 03:43 pm

    Let's hope this doesn't mark the beginning of the decline of QR.
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  • Mr Miyagi

    Mr Miyagi
    Banned

    7 Feb, 2018 03:52 pm

    Qatar passengers should be banned from other OW lounges. Find them an appropriate ‘space’ for their Sapphire/Emerald members. Perhaps a cordoned off area in the airport toilets?
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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 04:48 pm

    That's what Ive been saying, don't allow QR passengers the privileges QR are denying other OW passengers
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  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    7 Feb, 2018 03:52 pm

    If I’m flying business class - whether it be a points upgrade, cash upgrade, redemption or paid ticket - lounge access is a basic expectation and a fundamental part of the product.

    What they should have done is raised the redemption rate for upgrades and offer a cheaper “business clas seat only” tier for those that don’t want lounge access.
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    7 Feb, 2018 04:56 pm

    Here's an understatement : "... but in Doha, the lounges those members can access are separate to the ‘real’ business class and first class lounges, and are of a significantly lower standard." Try awful.
    No member give thanks

  • tal paris

    talparis

    7 Feb, 2018 05:06 pm

    I was told by Muhammad the admissions manager at the Al Safwa first class lounge that upgraded done befor the date can access the lounge.
    2 years back I have asked on this forum to which FF it is better to credit miles and received all sort of wise cracks replies though no one mention what is mentioned above that Qatar FF is a bad choice.
    Member who gave thanks

    pointyendmark

  • booyeahsydney

    booyeahsydney

    7 Feb, 2018 06:08 pm

    It all seems sneaky. If you are on business class you should have all that goes with that, whether paid upfront or subsequently upgraded with points, given that points are a quasi currency in themselves. Gives a cheap and nasty vibe and seems like Qatar are gradually getting worse. Their business class lounge used to offer high end champange and a la carte dining, both of which seem to be gone.Those things may have been more than what was expected in business class, but once you set a standard, if you lower it, you will get customers off-side.
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  • Simon Coveney

    Covvers

    7 Feb, 2018 07:52 pm

    I really have no need to contribute my thoughts on this, as all that needs to be said has already been said. An absolute joke that they would make such a decision. As one comment has already identified, the additional cost involved in allowing those who have upgraded into a lounge would be insignificant.

    The same space and staff numbers would, not doubt, be required. The only real difference is some additional food/beverage, which again, would hardly amount to much at all.
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  • cerebralbliss

    cerebralbliss

    7 Feb, 2018 08:21 pm

    Thanks for the article, Chris. I’m about to go gold with QR, and I’m switching out because of this.
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  • anonymous

    anonymous

    7 Feb, 2018 08:31 pm

    No different to QF points upgrades which are approved at the boarding gate. You don't get the upgraded lounge.
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  • mitchimus

    mitchimus

    7 Feb, 2018 11:45 pm

    totally different. After all, it's too late to use the lounge then. It is not at all the same.
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  • jorgb

    jorgb

    7 Feb, 2018 09:08 pm

    Strange decision, in many cases, those with enough points to purchase an upgrade with points have provided the airline with revenue than those who purchase a cash fare.
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  • traveller90

    traveller90

    7 Feb, 2018 09:36 pm

    All airlines, once they have your loyalty, love to keep you flying but remove the luxuries we all have enjoyed over the years. This is the way the industry is and will continue to be until only the full fare premium passengers are gifted with priviliages while all the rest will be simply passengers occupying a seat.

    What I would like to know is why the changes are being put in place, not that they have been put in place. Sometimes helps to soften the blow.

    Once again, competition and choice is out there and passengers will ultimately choose their carrier - and remember for most of the premium passengers affected by these changes, their loyalty with said brand is mostly only 12 months long anyway. Airlines take note, it is harder to keep a passenger than to loose them.

    No member give thanks

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    7 Feb, 2018 10:26 pm

    Stupid decision! Really poor. If one uses points to upgrade they should be afforded all of the benefits that go with traveling in that class. Very stupid!
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  • Mark McCullough

    pointyendmark

    8 Feb, 2018 12:30 am

    I do hope talparis is right: I booked my J to F upgrade 28 Jan. My tkt says 50kg luggage limit, which is the F allowance. I live in UK and it's enough of a gripe not being allowed to upgrade to F to/from LHR on QR - any further erosion of the benefits really devalues Privilege Club gold status.
    In August I need to fly between PEK and Malaysia in J. If I choose MH I will retain my QR gold. If I use CZ I will gain Skyteam Gold. I'm now erring towards the latter.
    No member give thanks

  • Strvdv86 Cop

    Copland

    8 Feb, 2018 01:21 am

    Response from Qatar Airways Privilege Club team when I queried access to the lounge on tickets upgraded prior to the introduction of this new policy...
    “We wish to inform you that the members who have processed upgrade on or before 04-Feb-2018, will still get lounge access and baggage allowance as per the OLD policy i.e. ticketed cabin.

    Effective 05-Feb-2018, all upgrades that are processed with Qmiles/Qcredits will have baggage allowance and lounge access as per original ticketed cabin.

    Members can continue to avail the baggage allowance and lounge access as per their tier benefits.

    The members’ throughout the network can purchase Al Mourjan Lounge access at the check-in counters, preferred travel agents, or Qatar Airways' sales offices.

    Your valuable and constructive feedback plays a vital role in highlighting the areas of concern and thus enables us to improve our services.”

    Member who gave thanks

    pointyendmark

  • ian_sh

    ian_sh

    8 Feb, 2018 11:45 am

    From a revenue perspective, it may make sense not to offer access to partner lounges. But to their own lounges as well?
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  • Tony OBERON

    obi

    8 Feb, 2018 07:57 pm

    From a full paying passenger's perspective, I like the change. Less people in the lounges is a good thing for those of us who cough up real cash for our tickets. I like the fact that QR restricts entrance to its Doha excellent premium lounges to only those actually holding a QR paid or full points ticket. Just sayin' (clearly I'm in the minority here...)
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  • traveller90

    traveller90

    9 Feb, 2018 05:54 am

    Have given this further thought, and feel the moral decision would be for cash purchases of J and F should be given preference to the more elaborate Qatar Lounges, but also feel the upgraded via points J and Y passengers should still have lounge access to the segregated lounges provided, giving them at least some lounge access than nothing at all. Whether the ticket is a cash or points purchase, there is still a value attached.

    I do also believe the upgraded baggage allowance for J and F should remain as what does this really cost the airline, as most J and F I know, including myself, mostly travel with hand luggage anyway. Qatar may have taken away to much to soon without really thinking of brand damage here.

    No member give thanks

  • preston

    preston

    21 Jan, 2019 04:10 pm

    Just returned from Syd airport after checking my deaf, 80 year old mother in law in on the QR flight to DOH, travelling in J class paid for totally by QF points. Would not allow QF lounge access in Syd or Doh!!!! Spent 25 minutes at customer service explaining that as paid in full by points they should have access, as featured on ausbt.com.au. They could not provide anything in writing to the contrary and told me it would be in thier t&cs. Very officious personel, smirking at the Ausbt.com.au site, so, my deaf, 80 year old mother-in-law, travelling solo, after losing her husband 6 months ago will now be wandering SYD and DOH concourses, when she should be safely relaxing in the lounges. Anyone had similar treatment ? I will be wearing them down over the coming weeks, that’s for sure.
    No member give thanks

  • Roz Averis

    RozFF

    1 May, 2019 04:22 pm

    So now even award business flight redemptions are barred from premium lounges? What about tier status eg platinum? Anyone clarify ? If no access what is the point of loyalty programs when there is no privilege to be gained from them. It takes a lot of loyalty to attain these higher tiers.
    Member who gave thanks

    pointyendmark

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19 Jul, 2019 01:53 am

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