Cash in your frequent flyer miles at Qatar Airways' Doha boutique

By John Walton, March 14 2012
Cash in your frequent flyer miles at Qatar Airways' Doha boutique

Got a seriously big stash of Qatar Airways' Qmiles in your account, and fed up of redeeming them on flights? You're obviously a frequent flyer via Qatar's hub, so next time you're in Doha head on over to Oryx Galleria, the airline's new bricks-and-mortar frequent flyer shop.

The in-flight duty-free magazine it certainly isn't. Oryx Galleria is a  two-floor "boutique", on Airport Road, will sell you any number of things -- from the more commonplace iPads, fragrances or cameras to exercise equipment, a pool table or a Mini Cooper.

(That Mini will cost you 7.5 million Qmiles, which would be more than 140 return flights in business from Melbourne to London if you include the highest rate of Privilege Club frequent flyer bonus. In which case we suspect that you just might have your own car already. And possibly a driver.)

And those are just two of the over 600 products on sale. No news yet on whether you're allowed to take your Mini Cooper, pool table or exercise equipment on the flight home with you.

"At Qatar Airways," ever-outspoken CEO Akbar al-Baker says, "we always keep looking for ways to bring additional value to our customers. This latest initiative reinforces our commitment to provide our most loyal customers with new and unique benefits that are fitting for being members of the best frequent flyer programme in the region."

"Customer research has shown our loyalty club members are looking for more redemption options and greater flexibility," al-Baker says. "Oryx Galleria was conceived not as a paper catalogue but a real boutique where customers can walk in and browse through the large variety of products available for redemption using their Qmiles."

Despite the over-the-top options, Qatar might be on to something here.

While there's a large contingent of frequent flyers who redeem swathes of airline and hotel points for that big once-a-year holiday, there's equally a market for people who want to stay home and feed the cat instead of being in a new city every week.

Assuming that most AusBT readers will be redeeming points and miles for flights, hotels and upgrades, what would you also like to be able to cash them in for? ("A toaster", perhaps?)

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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