Qatar Airways first class upgrade guide

By Chris C., February 7 2017
Qatar Airways first class upgrade guide

Flying business class on your next journey with Qatar Airways? Then take the opportunity to upgrade to the luxury of first class!

You could use frequent flyer points to secure your upgraded seat, or even cold hard cash during special discounted offers. Selected frequent flyers can also be upgraded to first class for free in return for their ongoing loyalty.

Wherever you're headed, here's what you need to know about landing a first class upgrade on Qatar Airways flights from Australia to Doha and beyond.

Qatar Airways first class upgrades: the basics

As with many international airlines, upgrades on Qatar Airways are strictly from one class of service to the next: so on most international flights, you'll need a business class ticket in order to upgrade to first class.

Book an economy flight instead and your best bet is a business class upgrade.

Read: Qatar Airways business class upgrade guide

From Australia, that means you'll need to be booked on an Airbus A380 flight from Sydney or Perth, as Qatar Airways' flights from Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane top out at business class.

Further afield, be aware that upgrades from business class to first class are not available on Airbus A380 flights between Doha and London Heathrow, although these are possible on flights to and from Sydney, Perth and Bangkok.

Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 first class
Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 first class

That means if you're flying from Sydney to London via Doha in business class, you'll only be able to upgrade to first class on the first leg of your trip.

You'll also need to be booked on a Qatar Airways flight with a QR flight number – not a codeshare service of any kind – and your reservation needs to have been booked directly through Qatar Airways, with a '157-' ticket number.

(That's completely different from your actual flight number such as QR909: this usually means Qatar Airways needs to be the airline that accepted payment for your booking and reserved your flight, rather than booking your Qatar flight as part of a broader multi-city or round-the-world trip via another airline.)

Still in the running? Should your upgrade be successful, expect to earn frequent flyer points and status credits (or Avios and Qpoints in Qatar's Privilege Club program) based on the original business class fare you paid for, rather than at the higher first class rates.

Qatar Airways first class upgrades using frequent flyer points (Avios)

While Qatar Airways flights can't be upgraded using Qantas Frequent Flyer points, you can instead use 'Avios' from Qatar Airways' own Privilege Club loyalty program.

From Sydney or Perth to Doha, swap your business class ticket for a first class seat in exchange for 55,000 Avios, one-way, with all paid business class bookings eligible for upgrades (this includes J, C, D, R and I fare types).

As highlighted earlier, you can't use Avios (frequent flyer points) to upgrade to first class on the airline's Airbus A380 flights between Doha and London Heathrow: but on all other Airbus A380 flights, upgrading is A-OK.

That's unless you already booked your original business class ticket using Avios or other frequent flyer points, in which case you'll also remain in your original seat.

Also note that upgrades are subject to availability – just because a first class seat is still being sold on your flight doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to upgrade: but if you are successful and an upgrade is available when you're travelling, you'll be able to lock it in via the airline's website from the moment you book.

Free Qatar Airways first class upgrades using Qcredits

High-flying Qatar Airways Privilege Club Gold and Platinum members unlock complimentary 'Qcredits' each year which can be used for an upgrade from business class to first class at no cost, rather than using regular Avios.

Privilege Club Gold cardholders receive 40 Qcredits annually, while top-tier Privilege Club Platinum members instead score 60 Qcredits per year.

It takes 39 Qcredits to upgrade a flight from Sydney or Perth to Doha, meaning both Gold and Platinum-level flyers recieve enough Qcredits each year for a complimentary one-way first class upgrade from Australia to Qatar.

As with using Avios (frequent flyer points), upgrades using Qcredits are subject to availability and can't be used for first class upgrades on Airbus A380 flights to/from London Heathrow.

Eligible Privilege Club members can spend their Qcredits via the Qatar Airways website, after logging in to their frequent flyer account.

Qatar Airways first class upgrades at the airport

Couldn't upgrade to first class before departure day? Then you have one final chance to nab a better seat by requesting an upgrade when you arrive at the airport check-in counters, or in Qatar Airways lounges, either by using Avios (points) or those free Gold and Platinum Qcredits.

The number of Avios or Qcredits needed to upgrade at the airport is the same as to upgrade further in advance, and can be done in Sydney, Perth and Bangkok: although again, not in London for a first class upgrade.

However, upgrades can only be requested at the airport for your next onward flight, so if you're flying from Sydney and transiting in Doha, only your Sydney-Doha flight can be upgraded at the check-in desks in Sydney.

On that trip, you could then approach the Qatar Airways 'Upgrade on Departure' counter when you arrive in Doha to enquire about a further upgrade for your onward flight.

Upgrading at the airport requires you to present your Privilege Club membership card – either the digital or plastic version – and where any last-minute upgrades are available, they're provided on a first-come, first-served basis: so an early arrival will boost your chances (and your lounge time).

Paying for a Qatar Airways first class upgrade

Out of options? Make sure your Qatar Airways reservation includes a current email address, as from time to time, the airline offers reduced-price paid cash upgrades on a 'take it or leave it' basis.

This is different from the 'upgrade bidding' process followed by other airlines – it's strictly a 'yes' or 'no' affair, and you may or may not receive an offer within a week of your flight's departure.

Receive an offer and you'll want to act fast: these are again first-come, first-served, so if other travellers are also invited to upgrade and beat you to it, you'll remain in your original seat.

If an offer hasn't been sent your way, there's unfortunately no way to manually request one – other than to pay the full fare difference between business class and first class, of course.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 79

Do you know if Qcredits are prioritized for upgrades ahead of Qmiles requests?


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 12

Any stats on Qatar's track record for operational upgrades for status passengers or other lucky people?

Emirates is known to 'share the love' to Qantas passengers. Myself +1 included on Dubai-Barcelona on a Qantas business class award ticket!
Etihad has also shared some love as a Velocity Platinum on Paris to Abu Dhabi.
Alas, I've not had a chance yet to try the Qatar A380 but I was pretty happy with their 787 business class product. Even the older 777 business class was quite ok.

British Airways - Executive Club

28 Mar 2014

Total posts 72

If you pay hard cash for an upgrade you surely earn points for the higher (flown) cabin?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

If you pay to change your ticket to first class at the full fare price (which isn't an 'upgrade'), then absolutely: but if you upgrade using money at discounted rates, you'll earn points based on the ticket you originally booked, which is standard of most airlines.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 169

14 Dec 2019

Total posts 1

Hi, just wondering does buying an Economy promo fare preclude you from the paid upgrade offer 7 days out?

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qatar Airways first class upgrade guide