American and Doha-based Qatar Airways now have a reciprocal frequent-flyer program relationship in place. That means that members of American's AAdvantage program can earn and redeem miles on Qatar flights, and members of Qatar's Privilege Club can earn and redeem miles for American flights.
American and Qatar already code-share on 170 routes, and Qatar is set to join the American-anchored oneworld airline alliance on October 30.
According to American's news release, Qatar currently serves 130 destinations in more than 70 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. From its Doha hub, Qatar serves 22 cities throughout the Middle East and offers more than 1,100 weekly flights, including service to American's hubs in New York and Chicago, as well as Houston and Washington, D.C.
Mileage Credit Alert
Qatar's flight network is a welcome addition to the AAdvantage program, at least for award travel.
For mileage earning, however, Qatar flights won't be the first choice for many AAdvantage members. That's because discount economy fares—the fares purchased by the great majority of non-business travelers—only earn between 25 and 75 percent of the actual flown miles, depending on the booking code.
Although it's understandable that some carriers prefer to award miles in more or less direct proportion to the fare paid, divvying up coach fares into four earning categories, as Qatar has done, is confusing to many travelers who think in terms of cabins (first, business, coach) rather than booking codes.
To avoid such confusion, and the inevitable disappointment and ill will that results when travelers receive fewer miles than they'd expected, most airlines simply award full mileage credit for all coach fares.
American should have insisted that Qatar do the same.
Reader Reality Check
Do you pay attention to booking codes when purchasing tickets?
Have you ever been awarded fewer miles than you assumed you'd earn for a flight?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.