This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.
Last updated January 2019.
With free upgrades to business class, a ‘meet and greet’ service in Doha and worldwide Oneworld lounge privileges for top-tier Gold and Platinum members, Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club is a great alternative to Qantas Frequent Flyer for travellers heading to the Middle East and beyond.
And for less-frequent flyers who won’t make it past the Silver rung, you’ll also enjoy lounge access in many airports worldwide whenever flying with Qatar – including to the Qantas business class lounges in Melbourne and Perth: the airline’s two Australian destinations.
If Privilege Club piques your interest, here’s what you need to know about the program.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club 101
As a member of the global Oneworld alliance, Privilege Club cardholders can earn miles in Australian skies with Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, and of course, Qatar Airways itself.
Add to that list American Airlines, Dragonair, Finnair, Iberia, Royal Jordanian, S7 (Siberian), SriLankan Airlines and LATAM when jetting further abroad within the Oneworld family, along with Asiana, GOL, Middle East Airlines and also Virgin Atlantic.
Like most loyalty programs, Privilege Club is free to join – simply visit the Qatar Airways website to sign-up, and remember to attach your frequent flyer number to your reservation when you next travel with Qatar or one of its partners.
The miles you earn – or ‘Qmiles’, in Qatar Airways lexicon – are valid for at least three years, and expire twice per year: that’s on June 30 and December 31, excluding Platinum members whose Qmiles won’t expire for as long as they maintain their Platinum status.
For example, if you earn 10,000 Qmiles in April 2016 and a further 15,000 Qmiles in September 2016, those 10,000 miles will expire on June 30 2019, and that chunk of 15,000 on December 31 2019. Expiry dates can also be extended by a further 12 months at a fee of US$0.015 per Qmile.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club tiers
Members begin at the entry-level Burgundy tier before making their way through Silver, Gold and Platinum as they begin to notch up ‘Qpoints’.
Somewhat confusingly for Aussies who are more familiar with the concept of ‘points’ and ‘status credits’, Qpoints are Qatar’s version of status credits (or of tier points, if you’re a Brit), while Qmiles are akin to frequent flyer points or frequent flyer miles.
Qpoints can be picked up whenever travelling with Qatar or a Oneworld airline including Qantas, American, BA or Cathay Pacific, but aren’t earned with the program’s non-Oneworld partners such as Virgin Atlantic.
If you’ll be joined in the air by family members, you can also pool their Qmiles – although not status-earning Qpoints – to your account at 1/4 of the usual earning rate.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club Silver
After earning 150 Qpoints in any 12-month period you’ll step up from Burgundy to Silver status, and in future years will need only 140 Qpoints in the same period or 280 Qpoints over any 24-month window to retain your Silver card.
That comes with a serve of 25% more Qmiles whenever travelling on a Qatar Airways flight with a QR flight number (an ‘operated and marketed flight’), and access to the Privilege Club priority check-in counters in Doha and to the airline’s business class check-in desks in other airports including Melbourne and Perth.
Add to that free business class lounge access in most airports whenever travelling with Qatar, two free passes each year to bring a guest into the lounge with you at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, priority boarding and an extra 10kg of baggage allowance on Qatar flights.
You’ll also be given priority over Burgundy travellers and non-members when stuck on stand-by or waitlist, and will earn 1/2 the regular number of Qmiles if pooling from your family’s accounts: twice that of entry-level members.
Through Qatar’s Oneworld membership, Privilege Club Silver members enjoy Oneworld Ruby status that grants alliance-wide priority check-in privileges, plus access to preferred or pre-reserved seating – usually a little closer towards the front of the cabin.
After flying enough with Qatar and Oneworld to reach Silver twice-over in any 12-month period you’ll be escalated to Privilege Club Gold and Oneworld Sapphire status.
That brings with it alliance-wide priority boarding, baggage handling and lounge access – including to the business class lounges of Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific, and the American Airlines Admirals Clubs whenever travelling onwards with any Oneworld airline.
You can also bring a guest into those and other Oneworld lounges, including Qatar’s Doha business class lounge without needing numbered guest passes as you would as a Silver member – but you’ll receive four of these anyway to use for extra guests throughout the year.
(In Doha and London, Qatar uses separate lounges for frequent flyers travelling in economy – so head to the SkyTeam lounge in London or the 'business class lounge' in Doha rather than the Qatar 'Premium lounge' or the Al Mourjan Lounge, which are only for passengers holding a business or first class ticket.)
Gold members also collect 75% more Qmiles on Qatar Airways flights, receive the full haul of Qmiles when pooling from family members (100% of what the family member would have otherwise earned), and can pack an extra 15kg into their checked baggage or bring along an extra suitcase.
There’s also a free ‘meet and greet’ service for Gold frequent flyers arriving at, departing from or transiting through Hamad International if specifically requested at least 24 hours beforehand; priority baggage handling, a 5% saving when booking award tickets online with Qmiles (which also come with more availability for Gold and Platinum members) and various fee waivers when changing award bookings.
Add to that 40 ‘Qcredits’ each year which can be swapped for free upgrades from most economy fares to business class. For example, an upgrade from Melbourne to Doha needs 35 Qcredits, while Doha-London takes just 25.
Finally, Gold members can also nab a confirmed economy seat on an already-full Qatar Airways flight when booking within 48 hours of departure.
Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum
Reel in 600 Qpoints in a year: twice what’s needed for Gold or four times for Silver, and a shiny Privilege Club Platinum card is yours for the taking, along with Oneworld Emerald status that’s on-par with Qantas Platinum.
That comes with 60 Qcredits each year – enough for a free one-way business class upgrade from Melbourne to London – and a 100% Qmiles bonus on Qatar Airways flights.
You’ll also have access to Oneworld first class check-in counters worldwide, with the exception of Doha where you’ll use the same priority counter as Silver and Gold Privilege Club members, and first and business class lounges across Oneworld including the Qantas First Lounge in Melbourne:
When flying with Qatar you’ll be able to bring in two guests at no charge – or one guest when travelling with other Oneworld airlines including Qantas – and will receive five single-use guest passes to redeem when travelling with a larger crowd through Doha.
You can also lug along an extra 20kg of checked baggage or one extra suitcase on most Oneworld flights (with the exception of British Airways’ ‘hand baggage only’ fares), and can access Fast Track or Express Path channels at selected airports including in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and London.
Earning Qatar Privilege Club Qmiles and Qpoints
In general, the more you spend on your ticket, the more Qmiles and Qpoints you’ll earn.
Case in point, a single return trip from Melbourne to Doha pulls in 3,714 Qmiles and 40 Qpoints for Burgundy members on the cheapest economy tickets, 18,570 Qmiles and 90 Qpoints on the least-costly business class fares, and 29,712 Qmiles and 110 Qpoints on the most flexible seats at the pointy end.
It’s a similar story on the airline’s Perth-Doha flights, with 2,900 Qmiles and 40 Qpoints on offer with the cheapest tickets, 14,498 Qmiles and 90 Qpoints up for grabs on the most-affordable business class fares, and 23,196 Qmiles and 110 Qpoints on the most expensive tickets.
From Melbourne to Dubai on Oneworld partner Qantas, you’ll pull in 3,616 Qmiles and 40 Qpoints on economy fares – but only on the more pricey tickets, with all ‘Economy Sale’ fares and some ‘Economy Saver’ tickets earning nothing at all – 10,846 Qmiles and 70 Qpoints in business class and 14,462 Qmiles and 110 Qpoints in first class.
Redeeming Qatar Privilege Club Qmiles
Your Qmiles can be traded in for free flights and upgrades to business and first class with Qatar, and for free flights only with QR’s long line of partners including Qantas and Cathay Pacific.
That same jaunt from Melbourne to Doha can be had for 35,000 Qmiles one-way in economy or 70,000 Qmiles in business class, or if travelling onwards to London on the same booking, you’ll part with just 45,000 Qmiles in economy and 90,000 Qmiles in business class overall.
If you’ve already booked your flights to Doha but are stuck in economy, 42,500 Qmiles can get you a business class upgrade from the most flexible tickets, as can 50,000 miles from those least-expensive.
For the London-bound already booked on confirmed business class tickets, an upgrade to first class costs just 30,000 Qmiles from Doha, although Qatar doesn’t offer first class on its Australian flights. Passengers can also upgrade straight to first class from economy for between 51,000 and 60,000 Qmiles on the same Doha-London flight.
Award flights on partner airlines don’t present the same value, with Qantas’ similar Melbourne-Dubai flight requiring 75,000 Qmiles for an economy seat, 112,500 for premium economy, 150,000 for business class and 225,000 for first class, one-way.
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