Well, that didn’t last long.
Without warning, Privilege Club has now significantly increased the number of Avios required to book JetBlue flights and removed the ability to book these flights online. What makes the news even worse is that when Privilege Club members submit a request for redemption at the new rates, these are “temporarily unavailable,” with no explanation of how temporary this might be.
Previously, Privilege Club priced redemptions on JetBlue with a fixed award chart, as it does for other partner airlines, such as American Airlines and British Airways (with better availability for BA flights than American Airlines AAdvantage members will have access to).
Now, Qatar is using unique pricing for JetBlue that does not correlate to any other partner airline:
|Distance||Route example||Previous economy-class price||New economy-class price||Previous business-class price||New business-class price|
|0-650 miles||New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)||6,000 Avios||8,500 Avios||12,500 Avios||17,000 Avios|
|651-1,151 miles||Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to New York||9,000||8,500||16,500||17,000|
|1,152-2,000 miles||Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Key West International Airport (EYW)||11,000||13,000||22,000||26,000|
|2,001-3,000 miles||San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Boston||13,000||18,500||38,750||74,000|
|3,001-plus miles||New York to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR)||20,750||25,000||62,000||78,000|
So what happened?
TPG reached out to Qatar Airways and JetBlue for comment, but neither has responded at the time of publication.
Arguably, the previously available rates were too generous for several reasons:
- JetBlue prices using the same award chart as British Airways might make sense, considering it also flies between London and New York/Boston. However, British Airways imposes many hundreds of dollars of surcharges on redemptions, whereas JetBlue does not. It would make little sense for anyone to redeem Avios for British Airways flights when JetBlue imposes virtually no fees, taxes or surcharges.
- JetBlue’s TrueBlue program uses dynamic pricing, with cross-country domestic Mint business-class flights regularly costing at least 100,000 TrueBlue points. For anyone with transferable points to redeem, under the previous pricing, it was less than half that price with Avios, which again would make little sense for TrueBlue members.
Availability was also excellent earlier this week through Privilege Club. As TrueBlue does not offer limited saver-level award seats to its own members and partners (it uses dynamic pricing for all seats), it may have simply offered far too many seats to Qatar’s members to book with Avios.
A surge of bookings through Qatar this week may explain why Qatar removed the ability to book these online and deemed them all “temporarily unavailable.”
How to earn Qatar Airways Avios
The easiest way for U.S. travelers to earn Qatar Avios is by transferring Citi ThankYou Rewards points to Privilege Club. Points convert to Qatar Avios at a 1:1 ratio, though transfers usually take around two days to process.
You can also transfer Avios from British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus or Aer Lingus AerClub at a 1:1 rate in any direction.
The following cards all currently offer strong welcome bonuses that you could easily convert to Avios in these three programs (and then transfer to Privilege Club):
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. Terms apply.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership. Check to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000-point welcome offer through CardMatch (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
This is an unfortunate, though not entirely unexpected, development from the Qatar Airways Privilege Club program.
Booking transcontinental flights in JetBlue’s Mint domestic business-class product for under 40,000 Avios each way and almost no fees, taxes and surcharges with excellent availability was arguably too good to be true — Qatar, JetBlue or both seem to have realized that.
Hopefully, online redemptions will return once the two airlines sort out the correct fare buckets and sensible availability. However, it is likely the increased redemption rates are here to stay, making JetBlue redemptions with Qatar Avios an OK but not outstanding way to maximize your travel.