Your complete guide to Qatar Airways' unbundled Business Classic fares

Traditional perks such as airport lounge access are now sold separately on some Qatar Airways business class tickets.

By Chris Chamberlin, November 11 2020
Your complete guide to Qatar Airways' unbundled Business Classic fares

Qatar Airways is now offering an 'unbundled' business class fare without lounge access or advance seat selection, but at a reduced price, as part of an overhaul to its fare structure.

Marketed as Business Class Classic, the fare sits below the new Business Class Comfort and Business Class Elite categories.

Like any unbundled fare, it comes with several caveats for the unwary traveller. But if the price is appealing, and especially if your frequent flyer status already provides lounge access, Qatar's Business Class Classic is worth a closer look.

What are Qatar Airways' unbundled business class fares?

To date, all Qatar Airways business class fares have included the same core components such as access to airport lounges – both its own lounges and those of Oneworld partner airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

However, a decision by the airline to streamline its fares into what it calls "a new and simplified Fare Families structure" also saw the introduction of a new Business Class Classic fare which removes some of the things travellers would take for granted.

Qatar has some of the world's best business class lounges, but a Business Classic ticket won't get you through the door.
Qatar has some of the world's best business class lounges, but a Business Classic ticket won't get you through the door.

Business Class Classic sits at the bottom of Qatar's fare ladder: it has the lowest cost compared to its Business Class Comfort and Business Class Elite siblings, but also fewer inclusions.

Business Class Classic fares book into 'R' class; travellers booking flights directly through Qatar Airways' website are more likely to notice "Classic" as the description for these tickets, although "Business (R)" also appears during the booking process.

Those booking through travel agents and other portals may instead see "R class", "(R)", or similar, rather than "Classic".

What do Qatar Airways' Business Class Classic fares include?

Whether a traveller books a lower-cost Business Class Classic ticket, a mid-range Business Class Comfort fare, or the higher-cost Business Class Elite brand, all include a basic package of benefits.

For example, all travellers can begin their journey at business class priority check-in, and can pack 40kg of checked baggage as standard on flights using the 'weight system', including those from Australia.

Priority baggage tagging, priority boarding, and of course, a business class seat on the aircraft also come standard, with all inflight dining and beverages similarly included regardless of the specific fare chosen.

What isn't included with Qatar Airways' Business Class Classic fares?

While much of the business class experience remains the same, other aspects of the experience do differ for travellers booking Business Class Classic fares, rather than those more expensive.

Seat selection, for example, is only possible at check-in on a Business Class Classic fare, versus being able to choose your seat at any time prior to that, as is possible on the higher-tier Comfort and Elite fares.

If you want to choose your seat on a Business Classic fare, you'll need to hold suitable frequent flyer status.
If you want to choose your seat on a Business Classic fare, you'll need to hold suitable frequent flyer status.

Airport lounge access, as most travellers would expect when buying a business class ticket, isn't part of the package for Business Class Classic itineraries: only for Business Class Comfort and Elite tickets.

What does a Qatar Airways Business Class Classic fare cost?

In exchange for forgoing key perks like airport lounge access, Qatar's Business Class Classic fares are expectedly priced below the Comfort and Elite fare families.

A spot-check of Qatar Airways' fares on the busy Sydney-Doha-London route for May 2021 showed the following rates for a return trip:

  • Business Class Classic: $8,012
  • Business Class Comfort: $10,902
  • Business Class Elite: $12,762

In this pricing example, the unbundled Classic fare delivers a saving of almost $3,000 against choosing Comfort fares on the same flights, and a saving of almost $5,000 against the top-shelf Elite fare.

Here's how Qatar Airways presents the fares on its website (note that the pricing in the screenshot is just for the 'Sydney-Doha-London' leg of a return-trip booking):

Qatar's Business Class Classic fare largely mirrors the Business Class Special fare of its competitor Emirates, which was introduced in 2019.

Emirates' fare also provided a lower price than regular business class tickets, but without comforts such as free chauffeur drive, lounge access, and seat selection prior to check-in.

Lounge access on Qatar Airways' Business Class Classic fares

Although airport lounge access isn't included by default when booking a Business Class Classic fare, there are several other ways that passengers can relax in a lounge prior to their flight.

Purchase Qatar Airways lounge access

Even on Business Class Classic fares, travellers can still purchase lounge access as a standalone experience, in conjunction with their Qatar Airways flight.

In Doha, access to Qatar's Al Mourjan business class lounge – the same lounge that's complimentary when booking those other business class tickets – costs 450 QAR, or around A$170.

Qatar's Al Mourjan lounge for eligible business class guests also offers paid entry.
Qatar's Al Mourjan lounge for eligible business class guests also offers paid entry.

That might seem expensive for a lounge visit, but when considering what can be the hefty difference between the price of Classic and Comfort fares, purchasing lounge access even during both Doha transits still leaves the traveller considerably ahead.

As an example, with a return Business Class Classic trip from Sydney to London costing $8,012 on the dates we searched, and with Comfort fares on the same flights totalling $10,902, even if a Business Class Classic passenger buys two lounge entries, their total spend remains well below the booking cost of a Comfort fare.

In fact, Qatar Airways also sells entry to its Al Safwa first class lounge for 600 QAR (A$226), and the airline confirms to Executive Traveller that this will remain available for Business Class Classic passengers to purchase.

Qatar Airways' Al Safwa lounge features an eye-catching waterfall.
Qatar Airways' Al Safwa lounge features an eye-catching waterfall.

That example Business Class Classic fare (A$8,012), combined with two first class lounge passes (A$452), would end up costing $8,464 in total: still $2,438 less than the cost of buying a Comfort fare with business lounge access included, yet with access to a better lounge, at a lower overall price.

Qatar Airways also sells access to its less-impressive Doha "First Class Lounge" and "Business Class Lounge" – normally used by frequent flyers booked in economy – at a cost of 300 QAR (A$113) and 250 QAR (A$94), respectively.

(Some of these lounges are closed at the time of writing, but these rules and rates apply when access is again possible.)

The airline advises that access restrictions for Business Class Classic passengers visiting lounges operated by other Oneworld airlines will be "gradually implemented".

In the short term, this means your Qatar Airways boarding pass may still sneak you into a lounge operated by another airline under what are currently the standard Oneworld alliance rules, but that Qatar Airways is working with its partners to restrict this.

Qatar Airways lounge access by frequent flyer status

Just like when travelling in economy where lounge access isn't included through the fare, frequent flyers can still visit any lounges that their status would entitle them to visit, when booked on a Business Class Classic fare.

In Doha, that means Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum members can still use the expansive Al Safwa first class lounge – this being the 'real' first class lounge – regardless of the fare type they choose.

On Business Classic fares, frequent flyer status still gets you into the airport lounges of Qatar and its Oneworld partners.
On Business Classic fares, frequent flyer status still gets you into the airport lounges of Qatar and its Oneworld partners.

Similarly, other Oneworld Emerald members (including Qantas Platinum) can use the "First Class Lounge" for frequent flyers, while Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (including Qatar Gold and Qantas Gold) can visit Doha's "Business Class Lounge".

Qatar Airways' Silver frequent flyers can also use the "Business Class Lounge" in Doha when travelling with Qatar Airways only.

Of course, some of these lounges are temporarily closed in light of the current travel landscape – with many frequent flyers having short-term access to the higher-tier Al Mourjan lounge – but when the lounge situation in Doha returns to normal, the rules above will apply.

Airport lounge access via other memberships, or by purchase

As when travelling in economy, there's nothing stopping members of independent airport lounge programs from using the benefits of their membership.

Have a Priority Pass card? In Doha, that remains your ticket to the Al Maha Services Transit Lounge, where you can stay for up to four hours per 'lounge entry'.

Flying out of Australia, or other global airports like London Heathrow?

You may find other independent lounges available where entry can be purchased, or may be complimentary through a credit card or lounge membership: such as an American Express lounge or a Plaza Premium Lounge, where these facilities are open.

Seat selection on Qatar Airways' Business Class Classic fares

Beyond lounge access, advance seat selection is another point of difference between Business Class Classic fares, and the airline's other business class tickets.

Your tickets buys you a business class seat: which seat, however, is another question.
Your tickets buys you a business class seat: which seat, however, is another question.

However, like lounge access, some frequent flyers may still be able to select their seat from the time of booking, even on these tickets.

This is true for Qatar Airways Privilege Club Gold and Platinum cardholders, as well as other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members (e.g. Qantas Gold and Platinum), who can select their seat whenever they choose, even on a Business Class Classic fare.

All other travellers on these tickets, however, will only be able to choose their seat when online check-in opens 48 hours prior to departure, or at the airport.

With no 'middle seats' in Qatar Airways business class on any of its aircraft types, it won't be such a sticking point for solo flyers, but the same wouldn't be said of pairs or families travelling together.

Seat selection on Qatar Airways' Business Class Classic fares

Across all three Qatar Airways business class fare types, the airline offers a base baggage allowance of 40kg on flights where the 'weight system' is used, such as from Australia.

The airline has confirmed to Executive Traveller that any additional checked baggage allowances that would normally apply under Qatar Airways Privilege Club, or other Oneworld tier benefits, will continue to apply even on Business Class Classic fares.

Here's how that looks for elite members of Privilege Club, and other Oneworld frequent flyer programs, including Qantas Frequent Flyer.

Frequent flyer card

Total checked baggage allowance

Standard Business Class Classic allowance

40kg

Non-Qatar Oneworld Ruby
(e.g. Qantas Silver)
Non-Qatar Oneworld Sapphire
(e.g. Qantas Gold)

No additional allowance
(40kg total)

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Silver

+15kg (55kg total)

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Gold
Non-Qatar Oneworld Emerald
(e.g. Qantas Platinum)

+20kg (60kg total)

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum

+25kg (65kg total)

Notably, while Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers ordinarily receive 15kg of extra checked baggage under Oneworld alliance rules, the starting point for that calculation is always the lead-in allowance in economy class, even if the passenger is booked in a higher cabin.

Because Qatar's lead-in Economy Class Classic fares provide 25kg of checked baggage, a 15kg boost on that figure still equals 40kg, being no better than what's included as standard in the Business Class Classic fare, and thus, giving no additional allowance for these flyers.

As you'll see above, Qatar Airways also provides more generous checked baggage allowances to its own Privilege Club frequent flyers versus what's required under Oneworld alliance rules, as apply to frequent flyers from other airlines.

That's why you'll see extra checked baggage for Privilege Club Silver (which is also Oneworld Ruby) and Privilege Club Gold (as is Oneworld Sapphire), as well as different allowances for Privilege Club Platinum (being Oneworld Emerald) versus Oneworld Emerald cardholders from other frequent flyer programs.

Getting a refund on Qatar Airways' new business class fares

Qatar's Business Class Classic, Comfort and Elite fares are all refundable – both to a voucher for future travel, as well as a cash refund back to the original payment method – but there are some differences when cash refunds are involved.

Business Class Elite fares provide free cancellations: this being a full refund at no cost, back to the credit card used for purchase, in the event the passenger cancels.

On Business Class Comfort fares, a cancellation fee applies: A$158 on the itinerary we searched above. Where a cash refund is requested, this cancellation fee is deducted from the refund amount paid.

Business Class Classic fares have a higher cancellation fee – A$364, on the flights we searched from Sydney to London – but can again still be refunded minus that cancellation fee, the airline has confirmed to Executive Traveller.

All three fare types can also be 'refunded' to a Qatar Airways travel voucher at no cost.

This means passengers booking Classic and Comfort fares who need to cancel their flight, but plan to travel with Qatar Airways in the future, could opt for a voucher in the full value of their booking, with no deduction of any cancellation fee.

If passengers choose a voucher over a cash refund, the voucher will be valid for 24 months from the date of issue, and no restrictions will apply on travel dates for rebooking, provided a reservation can be made during that time.

As Qatar Airways begins selling flights almost a year before their departure, this means a traveller could use their voucher 23 months after it's issued, for a flight almost a year after that – making any vouchers issued in 2020 usable for travel as far away as 2023.

These vouchers can be used to purchase any Qatar Airways airfare available at the time of re-booking, and if the value of the new flight is lower than the voucher's value, any unused credit will be issued to a further voucher, rather than being 'lost', the airline confirms.

Earning frequent flyer points on Qatar Airways' unbundled business class fares

In Qatar Airways Privilege Club, the number of frequent flyer points ('Qmiles') a passenger can earn is influenced by their fare class.

On business class bookings, Elite fares earn the most Qmiles, followed by Comfort tickets, and then followed by Classic fares.

Taking a one-way trip from Sydney to London would provide 21,874 Qmiles in Business Class Elite, 19,140 Qmiles in Business Class Comfort, and 13,671 Qmiles in Business Class Classic.

In other frequent flyer programs operated by partners, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer, the earning rates across Qatar's business class fares are instead often the same.

For example, a Qantas Frequent Flyer member would fetch a total of 10,400 Qantas Points plus 140 status credits on the same one-way booking, regardless of whether the cheapest Business Class Classic fare is booked, or the most expensive Business Class Elite ticket.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Not sure if becoming Norwegian Air is a model becoming of premium products. Frankly, I think it will turn off many people. No on wants to pay top dollar for a premium product, and then get nickeled and dimed- or picked Norwegian in the first place.

Instead of getting nickel-and-dimed when travelling in Business, I'd rather fly Economy with oneworld Emerald. Lounge is not indispensable as we can always fall back on Priority Pass, Amex and PAYG ones. Not being able to pick a seat prior to departure, on the other hand, makes me nervous. That's why I always pay to secure a seat when flying BA, which were usually ridiculously priced. But now, I'd be glad to fly in any metal tube, in any class and go anywhere overseas.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 94

I like it, as it suits us. We are both (Wife and I ) gold and silver so lounge access is not a problem. 

07 Mar 2017

Total posts 45

... Assuming it _isn't_ a problem.

As per the article, they could put a condition on the fare that it is not eligible for lounge entry, even with Gold status.

07 Mar 2017

Total posts 45

By all appearances, this is just a cut in inclusions. $7500 roundtrip to London was comparable to existing, previous business class pricing on Qatar. Now, if you want lounge access with them, the base fare is $10400. So really, what this is is a cut to existing services but selling at the same price as before. R class was also something sold by them before - but with the extras. This is going to catch out those that book the cheapest and then find they have to pay hundreds more to get lounge access as well at each stop. 

That base price will still get you lounge access with competing carriers. Unless competitors also cut inclusions, I'll be booking with them to avoid the extra cost with Qatar.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 154

I think this will backfire on Qatar unless there is a significant change to their pricing. Would not pay nearly $8k to go to London to have no lounge access and not know where I am sitting on the aircraft. 

Plenty of competitors with similar service and more inclusions at a lower cost. 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 159

fly Lufthansa/Swiss/SQ   easy done!  just buy a LX or Lg Global fare and expereince FULL service Really who would fly through DOHA  Wrecked my backback inspecting it at  NO PREMIUM service transit security - as QR F PER-DOH-AMM then RJ C AMM-TLV In many ways glad I cxld my QR F flights this year booked through AA miles to TLV  Thanks COVID (first time Ive said thx to COVDI)   after i found out Qatar (and therefore QR as a state owned airline supports Kurdish and Armenian genocide via their TURKISH DICTATOR friend  

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 543

Not really becoming of a carrier which had placed itself in the best of the best league. Immediately cheapens the brand I feel.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

Illogical that lounge would not be available if it is available with an economy seat. That will kill it before it starts.

Well that, and the fact that it requires travelling via Doha.

10 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

This is no longer a business class ! Even with first class, these long flights are boring . I don't expect this from a five star airline 👎✈️🌏🤔

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 159

Corrupt qatar back airline Dont fly it  !!!! Qatar supports the turkish  genocide of Kurds and Armenians both current!

24 Feb 2012

Total posts 54

Whether this is true or not I don’t think this is the forum to be venting on political topics like this 

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 327

Honestly and truely who comes up with these dumb ideas. I looked up the definition of “classic” (the new marketing spin airfare name) and the adjective is “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind”.  What’s next, cafe style catering to purchase on board for “classic” fare holders?

British Airways - Executive Club

11 Nov 2020

Total posts 3

I really don't undestand this move. Qatar always had the image of being a premium carrier. Now it's starting to become some low-cost carrier. All of that to save maybe a couple of tenners on drinks and coffee? really?? I am just amazed that there was not one single bright mind at Qatar that could have stopped this idiotic move. 

You save a bit on sandwiches and coffee but guess you will have to pay dearly with the image of your brand.

Next to that I already see the scenes at the lounge of people buying a BC ticket assuming they have lounge access. 

Also... this is not about offering cheaper tickets to your possible clientele... this is just "undressing" current fares and hoping it will force people to spend more  in order to not having to hang around the airport between flights - which I personally see as such poverty. 

Wondering if they will still give OW Sapp/Emerald access to their lounges, else I am definitely not going to fly with them anymore. I always have R-fares and think it is ridiculous to pay hundreds extra to access a lounge. In that case I'll just fly on other carriers - plenty of others that are willing to provide some decent extras with a BC ticket.

Quite a stupid move if you ask me... especially in these times where I expect that when air traffic will normalise, airlines will fight to get business travellers back on their metal.

11 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

Bad move Qatar. 

This instantly makes me look elsewhere for flights. BA have spent several years racing to the bottom and it looks like Qatar are about to follow.

I have a suspicion that this move is to allow Qatar business class flights to appear unbeatable on value when using third party web search tools and there are likely to be many customers who get caught.

With a bit of luck the sensible heads at Qatar will reverse this decision and send the business managers and marketing experts who came up with this idea into a distant room with a very large box of paperclips to straighten.

We all know that Covid has been devastating for the travel industry but initiatives like this are more likely to end in short term gain at the expense of long term integrity.

27 May 2017

Total posts 23

They haven't made it cheaper though!!! Does anyone know what the prices were before?

Qantas

24 Oct 2014

Total posts 5

As a travel agent , seeing the fares above they are about $1500- $2500 more than they were sell back in Feb/Mar. The R class fare was an " early bird " or promotional fare that included all bells & whistles and top level points . Why would you now buy an R class fare pos-COVID19 that is about $1500 more than pre-COVID19 and have no lounge access and seat allocation included  ? $8000 is about the same as EY or EK to London when their promotional fares are available and their fare includes lounge access . From what I see is ... QR have raised their promotion fare to about $8000 and taken out any luxuries and slapped a " Classic " label on it ..... I'd tell my clients to look at  BA/SQ/LH group combo's or if they want a 1 stop flight pay a few $ more and go EK or EY - get full service .....

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 159

LH Gruppe  Global fares use SQ  and maybe I think BA   So Lufthansa Gruppe fares ueber alles! Ja?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2020

Total posts 4

Anyone know what the situation would be using points to buy business on Qatar.  My wife and I use them every year for a European trip in business using Qantas points.  So, next time I book which business class ticket do we get?

Thanks

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 154

It is also my understanding that those on points tickets will also not be able to select seats or have lounge access unless they are oneworld elite. 

This would means no access to QR-operated lounges in outports, and to the Al Mourjan lounge in Doha if on a points ticket. 

08 May 2020

Total posts 14

I like that Qatar is trying to bridge the monumental gap in price between Economy and Business but I don’t think this is enough.  Personally I’m only interested in the onboard experience and can do away with all the champagnes and lounges but the price would need to be a LOT cheaper.  Other Oneworld carriers offer all the bells and whistles at 35% less than these prices.

British Airways - Executive Club

11 Nov 2020

Total posts 3

Do you actually think they will lower prices??? The prices are the same level as they also were before this change. You just get less perks for the same price.

Next to that... I do have to say that Qatar is absolutely not a more expensive deal than other OW carriers. Actually they have quite good prices - going for business promos.

Personally I just think they will break down their image as a premium carrier with these kind of low-cost jokes. At travel agent websites you can usually not see the booking class and I foresee quite some scenes at the lounge when people find out they have to hang around in the departure halls - which I find such a poor travel experience.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 77

As a couple of platinum (Q) senior recreational travellers, this move may well be advantageous. Obtain a couple of J seats at a reduced price and use the status to gain the other benefits? What is the problem.....except the ability to leave Aus. Mind you, forced isolation in Amsterdam's  Jordaan, Paris'  Marais or Memphis ( Tennessee) Mud Island area sounds a lot better than locked into Victoria border controls.  So, thank you Chris for explaining the relevant issues for us.

British Airways - Executive Club

11 Nov 2020

Total posts 3

Using your status to get the other benefits will probably only work for seat choice. As for lounge access be prepared to be turned away at the Qatar lounge in Doha and redirected to the OW one. And... do not believe you will have actually cheaper tickets.

26 Sep 2020

Total posts 2

It looks like this has already backfired. The differential between Classic and Comfort has already fallen from $1,500 each way to Europe in the example in the article to "only" $500 as of now. It was always unsustainable. Who was ever going to pay over $10,000 for SYD-LHR-SYD when you can fly with Singapore or Qantas for $8,000.

10 Dec 2010

Total posts 5

If travelling in business class on Qatar award tickets from the Qantas frequent flyer program, will I be able to have access to Qatar lounges in London or Paris or Singapore if prepared to pay cash. If travelling from London, Paris, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Sydney in business class, would one be allowed complimentary access ,pay a fee or be entitled to nothing at Oneworld lounges?

Many thanks,

Bill


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