Rohit

Last week we learnt that Qatar Airways Privilege Club will be joining American Express Membership Rewards Program in Australia as a transfer partner. Transfers will be in the ratio of 2:1 (2 Membership Rewards Points = 1 Qatar Airways Avios). The partnership is set to commence in August although we do not have a confirmed date yet.

This is an excellent development, which to an extent compensates for the impending devaluation of transfers to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Emirates Skywards Program. In this post I wanted to take a deep dive into Qatar Airways Avios and also go over some of the best Business & First Class redemptions you can make with it.

What are Avios

If you are not familiar, historically Avios was the name of the common Frequent Flyer Currency of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, thanks to these airlines having a common owner in International Airlines Group or IAG as its better known. Just the way Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyers earn and redeem Qantas and Velocity points, Frequent Flyers of these 3 airlines earn and redeem Avios.

Then in 2021, Qatar Airways made it a party-of-4 by ditching Qmile and adopting Avios as the Frequent Flyer Currency of its own Privilege Club Program.


Qatar Airways First & Business Class onboard Bar

The Doha based carrier already owned about 25% stake in IAG, so the switch to Avios did not comer as a very big surprise. As things stand, travellers can earn and redeem Avios on all 4 airlines.

That’s not all, it is also possible to link the accounts and transfer Avios back and forth between all 4 Frequent Flyer Accounts at 1:1, which is an incredibly valuable feature. This effectively means that Amex cardholders in Australia will soon gain access to not 1 but 4 different Frequent Flyer Currencies. While they all work very similarly, there are certain nuances associated with each of them which I will address another time.

In this post, I want to keep the focus on Qatar & British Airways Avios.

Qatar Airways Avios vs British Airways Avios

Even though Avios can be freely transferred between all 4 accounts, you will find that most of the time you are making redemptions either via Qatar Airways Privilege Club or British Airways Executive Club. In that sense, it helps to keep a couple of important things in mind when deciding which program to choose.

The first major difference between the two programs is that while British Airways lets you make online bookings for majority of oneworld partners including Qantas, with Qatar Airways, online partner redemptions are only possible for flights on British Airways and American Airlines. For all other partners including Virgin Australia, you will need to call Privilege Club Customer Service and make the booking over the phone. Frustrating to say the least.

On a side note, this makes Avios the only common currency which can be used to book flights on rivals Qantas and Virgin Australia both. We certainly live in interesting times, as the expression goes 😉

The second major difference is that while British Airways only allows you to book Qatar Airways flight when there is a Saver Level redemption space, with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, members have the option to redeem double the number of Avios and make the booking even if Saver Level redemption is not available. Take a look below.

This is a screenshot obtained through British Airways Executive Club showing Melbourne – Doha Qatar Airways flights in Business Class. As you can see, only the 10:10 pm departure has Business Class availability.

And here is the result for the same 2 flights on the same day when you search it through the Qatar Airways Privilege Club account.

While the flight departing at 10:10 pm is available at Saver Level redemption (70,000 Avios + fee and taxes), members are also able to book the 4:15 pm departure at 2X the price (140,000 Avios + fees and taxes), as denoted by the word Flexi which I have highlighted in red for better visibility.

Ideally we should always aim for Saver Level redemption to extract maximum value, but if you are someone who must fly with Qatar Airways and do not mind shelling out the extra Avios, then this option will be deeply appealing to you. Its a major advantage Privilege Club holds over Executive Club for redemptions on Qatar Airways.

By the way, ignore the 66,500 Avios price you see above. I took this screenshot while logged into my Privilege Club account and as a Qatar Airways Platinum member, I receive a 5% discount on redemptions. The standard price for a Business Class seat on this route is 70,000 Avios.

Redemption Table

Qatar Airways do not publish a redemption table, what you have instead is a Calculator where you can enter the route and cabin class you wish to fly and it will show you the required number of Avios.

You can look up the Calculator via this link.


Qatar Airways Avios Calculator

On the other hand, British Airways operate a seasonal (but fixed price) award chart for redemption on its own flight. Flights during off-peak season are priced significantly cheaper than during peak season.

For redemption on partner airlines, British Airways operates a distance based redemption chart, not too dissimilar to Qantas. They no longer publish the chart, but pricing for partner awards is as per the table below:

Zone (distance in miles)Economy
(Price in Avios)
Premium Economy
(Price in Avios)
Business
(Price in Avios)
First
(Price in Avios)
Zone 1 (1 to 650)6,0009,00012,50024,000
Zone 2 (651 to 1,151)9,00012,50016,50033,000
Zone 3 (1,152 to 2,000)11,00016,50022,00044,000
Zone 4 (2,001 to 3,000)13,00025,25038,75051,500
Zone 5 (3,001 to 4,000)20,75041,25062,00082,500
Zone 6 (4,001 to 5,500)25,75051,50077,250103,000
Zone 7 (5,501 to 6,500)31,00062,00092,750123,750
Zone 8 (6,501 to 7,000)36,25072,250108,250144,250
Zone 9 (7,001 +)51,500103,000154,500206,000

Top Redemptions with Avios

When it comes to redeeming Avios on short haul flights under 2,000 miles, there is virtually no parallel. For instance, you can redeem just 22,000 Avios to fly Qantas Business Class from Sydney or Melbourne to Darwin. That’s a 4+ hr flight where Qantas charges 41,500 Qantas points, almost double of what you pay with Avios. Fees and taxes should be fairly similar.

In that vein, here are some of the best value Business & First Class Redemptions you can make with Avios.

Domestic, Trans-Tasman and South Pacific Travel

As I mentioned earlier, you cannot book Qantas flights online through your Privilege Club account. So you will need to transfer Avios to you British Airways Executive Club account for the following redemptions.

  • You can fly Qantas Business Class between Melbourne and Perth or Melbourne and Darwin for 22,000 Avios.
  • You can fly Qantas Business Class between Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane and any City in New Zealand served by Qantas for just 22,000 Avios. Flights between Adelaide and Auckland unfortunately just tip-over into the next distance zone making the redemption uncompetitive.
  • You can fly Fiji Airways Business Class between Sydney and Nadi (Fiji) or Brisbane and Nadi (Fiji) for 22,000 Avios.
  • You can fly Qantas Business Class between Brisbane and Cairns, Perth and Broome or Adelaide and Gold Coast for 16,500 Avios.


Redeem Avios to fly Fiji Airways Business Class

Travel on Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways operates an extensive network of flights between Australia and Doha and onward to numerous cities in Europe & North America.

  • You can fly Qatar Airways Business Class between any City in Australia and Doha for 70,000 Avios.
  • You can fly Qatar Airways Business Class between any City in Australia and anywhere in Europe for 90,000 Avios.
  • You can fly a combination of Qatar Airways First & Business Class between Sydney and anywhere in Europe, where the Sydney – Doha leg is in First and the onward leg is in Business Class for 128,250 Avios.
  • You can fly Qatar Airways Business Class between any City in Australia and anywhere in United States for 114,000 Avios.


Redeem Avios to fly Qatar Airways First Class

Travel within Asia

Asia is home to possibly the highest concentration of low cost carriers (LCC) in the world, so depending on where you are flying it might not always make sense to redeem points or miles. But if you want to fly full service airlines such as Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines (JAL), Avios can be very handy.

  • You can fly Cathay Pacific Business Class between Hong Kong and Singapore or Hong Kong and Tokyo for 25,000 Avios.
  • You can fly Malaysia Airlines Business Class between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok for 16,500 Avios.
  • You can fly JAL Business Class between Tokyo (Narita) and Manila for 24,000 Avios.
  • You can fly SriLankan Airlines Business Class between Colombo and Kuala Lumpur for 22,000 Avios.
  • You can fly SriLankan Business Class between Colombo and Maldives or Colombo and Mumbai for 12,500 Avios.


Redeem Avios to fly Malaysia Airlines Business Class

Travel within United States

Avios are easily redeemable on American Airlines domestic flights in United States and even down to the Caribbean islands. This can come very handy when cash fares within U.S. spike from time to time such as during cold winter months when throngs of crowd descend upon the warm Florida climes.

  • You can fly American Airlines Business Class between New York and Miami for 16,500 Avios.
  • You can fly Alaska Airlines Business Class between any 2 West Coast cities for 16,500 Avios.
  • You can fly American Airlines Flagship First between L.A. and New York for 51,500 Avios.
  • You can fly Alaska Airlines Business Class between L.A. and New York for 38,750 Avios.
  • You can fly American Airlines Business Class between Miami and Montego Bay (Jamaica) for 12,500 Avios.


Redeem Avios to fly Alaska Airlines Business Class

In Conclusion

Avios are one of the most versatile Frequent Flyer Currencies out there and it is fantastic that American Express cardholders in Australia will soon be able to access it via Membership Rewards Program. The ability to transfer Avios between various Frequent Flyer Programs trubo-charges the utility of the currency even further.

While many Australians will likely focus on redeeming Avios on Qantas domestic short-haul flights, as we can see from some of the examples above, that wouldn’t really be making full use of the enormous potential the currency holds.

Armed with a decent haul of Avios balance, you can make all of the world your oyster.

Are you excited about Avios joining Amex Membership Rewards Program? Leave a comment below.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the info.

    Recently transferred a large amount of Amex Reward Points to Qatar but unfortunately all business class fares from Australia to Europe in May 2024 are showing as ‘Occupied’ which I find hard to believe. We are totally flexible on dates but still no availability. Very disappointing!

  2. Wish to support QR to increase flights from BNE/OOL?
    Need biz RT award BNE/DOH to play World Polo/Feb.
    Before transfer AMEx to Avio, after 30yrs w/KrisFlyer.

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