Travel News

Two Airlines With Great Change Policies for Customers – And They Are Not US Airlines

Written by Charlie

Two airlines have show some creativety in their change policies for customers. From refunds to mileage options and more, they serve as a great example to other airlines.

The US airlines have been playing games with their customers for months now and only have made changes when presented with increased pressure. European airlines have been playing some games with customers as well and now have received some guidance on how they should be treating customers but it remains to be seen if they will do that.

Two Airlines That Give Customers Great Change Options

And then we have two airlines that are located in neither area that have very good change policies. Now, the policies themselves are very good and quite generous but the real-life scenarios could take a little time in this coronavirus era – just know that up front!

Qatar Airways Change Options

The miles and points blogs were alive with a new change policy instituted by Qatar Airways yesterday. Basically, Qatar Airways is offering some truly nice options for past and future bookings if customers have travel disrupted and some options even if the passenger wants to make changes.

There is one option that is wide-open to game but I would caution readers to not book new flights right now just to take advantage of that one (I’ll get into that more below).

Here are the options presented for customers of Qatar Airways. This is for flights booked up until September 30, 2020

Hold on to your ticket

Keep your ticket and use it when you are ready with our extended ticket validity, now valid for 2 years from the date of ticket issuance for greater flexibility.

How to do this

Call any Qatar Airways office or contact center to make your new ticket.

Unlimited changes

You can change your travel date or destination free of charge, as often as you need, for travel until 31 December 2020. You can change your origin to another city within the same country or any other destination we fly to within a 5,000 mile radius of your original destination.

How to do this

Call any Qatar Airways office or contact center to make a change

Note on this option

This is the one with the greatest potential as you can do the following:

  • Book a “cheap” business class ticket from Philadelphia to Kiev roundtrip (for around $1,600)
  • Call Qatar Airways to change to fly from Los Angeles (because it is a city in the same origination country) to Hong Kong (because it is less than 5,000 miles from Kiev)
  • Also change the date to fly anytime before December 31, 2020

Good Deal or No?

While this option could be extremely valuable, there are some things to pay attention to.

  • Qatar Airways could change this policy later on and you may not be able to make such a generous change (so booking and changing right away would work but making another change later due to border closures may not)
  • The travel period is pretty small – December 31, 2020 means that there may still be many countries with borders closed to foreigners or there may be requirements for 14 day quarantines
  • Qatar Airways obviously knew some would book right away on cheap fares and make changes to much more expensive routes. They are ok with this now due to their desire to get cash. But, if we have learned anything from the last two months, we have no idea what travel will look like in 4 months from now. So, be ok with basically lending Qatar Airways almost $2,000 per person for a while in exchange for potentially getting a much better flight option.
Swap for Qmiles

Swap your ticket for Qmiles and redeem them towards reward flights, extra baggage or cabin upgrades when the time is right. For every 1 USD, you will earn 100 Qmiles that are valid for at least three years, so you can have the flexibility to choose how, when and for whom to redeem them. Not a member? Simply join before you submit your request.

Note on this option

Miles are really not a very valuable option so I would not consider this one unless you really need some more Qmiles for an award or you have a sweet spot in mind.
Exchange for future travel

You can exchange your ticket for a future travel voucher with 10% additional value. Vouchers are now valid for two years from the date of voucher issuance.

Note on this option

Essentially, you can book a ticket right now and then call tomorrow to convert it to a voucher with 10% extra in value. This could be a good deal if you regularly book tickets with Qatar Airways but just remember that you are giving them a loan in exchange for a 10% bonus. With government backing, it is conceivable that Qatar Airways will make it through this but you need to weigh potential uncertainty against 10% extra in value.
Refund your ticket

Rest assured, we will refund your ticket to the original form of payment if your flight gets cancelled.

Note on this option

This option is only if your flight gets cancelled – not if you want to cancel your reservation. For that, you need to consider one of the options above.

Turkish Airlines Change Options

Turkish Airlines was actually ahead of Qatar Airways with some attractive options, though not as attractive as the unlimited change and destination change option (they will let you make changes to cities within the same region – could work great for something like Asia).

But, there are two dates here to know. For flights booked before March 20, 2020, you have all five options below available. For flights booked between March 20 and June, you can only get a Zero Change option or the Open Ticket. The Open Ticket option for these tickets booked during this period will incur a fare difference fee.

Create a Request to Change Ticket to an Open Ticket

This can be used for canceled flights or any flights purchased before March 20 for travel through the end of the year.

It works like this. You can select to simply convert your current ticket to an “Open Ticket” that will allow you to book at anytime later. This new trip can occur any time before February 28, 2021.

The good part about this option is that you can fly from any city in the current region (meaning your country and, in some cases, nearby countriesto any city in the region you were headed. Again, this means any city in the country of your destination and possibly cities in surrounding countries.

So, for example, if you were flying Turkish Airlines from JFK to Hamburg, Germany, you could instead fly from San Francisco to Munich – or possibly even something like Paris.

Of course, if the current cities already work for you, the only other advantage is that you will not pay any fare increase. So, if you were traveling in the off-season, you could move to peak-season (which could have cost a few hundred more) and not pay a thing.

Create a Free Change Request

This can be used for canceled flights or any flights purchased before March 20 for travel through the end of the year.

This is similar to the above as far as how you can change your ticket but is handled differently. Instead of leaving the ticket open for a future reservation, you can simply make the change right away if you know your new travel plans. Simple!

Create a Refund Request in Miles

This is the most unique of the options. This option lets you convert the price of your ticket (in euros – all-in including taxes and fees) into Turkish Airline miles at a rate of 1,000 miles per €10. So, if you had a €450 ticket, you could instead opt to have that ticket converted to 45,000 Turkish Airline miles.

This could be a really great move if you no longer want to travel but would like to get a cool business class flight in the future. While Turkish Airlines does pass on fuel surcharges (about a couple of hundred with Turkish flights but as high as $500-600 with partners like Lufthansa departing from the US), they also charge just 45,000 miles for business class between the US and Europe. That means that your €450 roundtrip economy ticket just became a one-way business class award! If you book an award flight on United, SAS, or LOT, you will just pay a little in taxes and fees.

Create a Standard Refund Request

Now, this one would be the one that everyone may want but be aware that you will likely be waiting a while. This is only an option if your flight has been canceled but you would be able to get all of your money refunded to your credit card.

Turkish even mentions on the request form that they “kindly advice you to review the other advantageous options offered” as they really do not want to have to give back money right now. They will not refund you until 60 days after they begin operations again, which means July 27th at the earliest.

Convert to a Voucher with a 15% Bonus

This one is far better than the Qatar Airways voucher option and is the option we have chosen. But, just know that the voucher is issued in the name of the passenger and must be used within one year of the time of issue (not from when the original flight had been booked).

Also, I am waiting to hear on this, but I am assuming it must be used in one booking – no using the excess for another flight down the road. If this is true, it limits the potential for this offer since you need to be using it all.

However, it could also give a nice boost if you are now able to book business one direction. On Turkish Airlines website, you can book economy one way and business the other on roundtrip purchases. This could utilize the 15% bonus nicely and then you may only need to pay a little out of pocket for the remainder.

Bottom Line

Kudos to both Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines for coming up with creative options for customers. No airline wants to give cash back on cancelled flights but these two airlines are actually working to offer valuable alternatives to refunds.

Just make sure you give it some thought before you make your choice. In most situations, it is a final one and if you get one shot, you want to make sure you make it well.

Remember that for most of the options above (check each airline’s website), you have plenty of time to make your choice. So, take it if you can!

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • When I called Turkish airlines last week to change my ticket (which I had purchased before March 2020) to change it to an open ticket, they told me that when I book again I’d have to pay the difference. The only time they don’t charge the difference is if the flight is canceled. This contradicts the information on their website. The rep told me that they haven’t updated the website yet, but I think that’s bogus. They are trying to look better than other airlines in their advertised return/exchange policy but the reality is not as rosy. My flight is on May 30th from SFO and it hasn’t been canceled yet.

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