Qatar Airways to Join oneworld

Finally, some positive news for American Airlines! It was announced yesterday that Qatar Airways will be joining the oneworld® alliance — it will take 12 to 18 months for the process to be completed. You can get the full details here.

I’m excited by this because it will give me, as an AAdvantage member, access to one of the top airlines in the world. Qatar was named Airline of the Year for the past two years by the Skytrax independent airline quality rating agency. Its premium service ranks it as one of the top three or four airlines in the world. It also has a very modern fleet.

According to their press release, “Fifteen of its destinations and three countries – Iran, Rwanda and the Seychelles – will be new to the oneworld map.” Three new countries for me!

  • Iran – let’s go visit their nuclear plants! Actually, let’s not.
  • Rwanda – no, not on my bucket list
  • Seychelles – Starwood and Hilton have some beautiful properties on these islands located north of Madagascar, east of Kenya and Somalia. I ignored them in the past since none of the oneworld airlines served the Seychelles. Now, I may look at it as a future vacation destination.

Qatar Airway’s home base is Doha: I had a short 36-hour layover in Doha a few years ago and would not mind going back for a longer stay. My wife has suggested many times that it might be a good mileage run for me, particularly if I can bring back some more jewelry for her, the prices were that good!

I welcome Qatar Airways to oneworld, and look forward to flying with them in the future.

Here is more information from the press release.

About Qatar Airways                                                   

Qatar Airways was launched in 1997 and quickly established itself as one of the world’s fastest growing and highest quality airlines.

Besides being named Skytrax’s Airline of the Year for the past two years, it is also the organisation’s Best Middle East Airline for the seventh year running and has retained Skytrax’s Five Star ranking since 2004.  Other recent awards won include Business Traveler USA’s Best Airline for International Travel and Aviation Business’ Airline of the Year 2011.

It boarded 15 million passengers in 2011, generating group revenues of US$ 6.4 billion.

Qatar Airways, which uses the two-letter code QR, has one of the world’s youngest fleets.  It currently operates 111 aircraft, with an average age of four years, including 26 Boeing 777s, four Airbus A340-600s, 29 Airbus A330s and 44 Airbus A320 family types.  It has orders and options for more than 250 more aircraft, worth more than US$ 50 billion, for delivery over the next few years. These include 13 Airbus A380-800s, 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 80 Airbus A320neos.

Qatar Airways is 50 per cent owned by the State of Qatar and 50 per cent by private shareholders.

Win a Trip to Hong Kong!

Travel is good. Free travel is better. Free travel on one of the world’s finest airlines with air and hotel included is just about as good as it gets.

Cathay Pacific is marking one year of service from Chicago to Hong Kong with the Walking on Air sweepstakes.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive a premium vacation package for two (2) to Hong Kong. Vacation package includes:

  • Two (2) Roundtrip Economy Class tickets from any of Cathay’s US Gateways (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago) or Canadian Gateways (Toronto and Vancouver) to Hong Kong.
  • Five (5) nights stay at J Plus Boutique Hotel, courtesy of Tablet
  • A private, guided tour to our museum at Cathay City to see the fashion featured on our Walking On Air runway show.
  • Two (2) $150 vouchers for a dream jetsetter wardrobe for two, provided by Rent The Runway.
  • One month subscription to Birchbox.

I’ve entered, you should too! Visit their site to enter the sweepstakes. Good Luck!

My AAdvantage Year to Date

We’re two-thirds of the way through 2012, and I must say it has been a pretty good AAdvantage year for me.

I’ve earned Executive Platinum status through February 2014.

I’ve used many of those miles to purchase a trip for later in the year when my wife and I will visit Bali, Indonesia. We’ll fly First Class on American Airlines from Austin to Los Angeles, then Business Class on a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER to Hong Kong. Then we’ll again fly Business Class on Cathay to Bali. This flight was originally on a 747-400 and we were seated upstairs. But Cathay, like many other airlines, is starting to ground the 747-400 to reduce costs. So now we are on a “regional” 777-200.

The difference between this plane and our LAX-HKG plane is that the 777-300ER is a three-class aircraft (First, Business, and Economy), and  business class seating is only four seats across per aisle; it is Cathay’s most luxurious aircraft. We’ll be in a forward section of the plane that only has two rows for a total of eight passengers.

The 777-200 is a two-class aircraft (Business and Economy), and business class is seven seats across per aisle. In other words, while it will be nice, it will not be as luxurious as the 777-300ER is or the 747-400 would have been. I’m sorry that we won’t be on the 747 for that flight, it may have been our last opportunity to fly on one of the most iconic aircraft of the 20th century. Japan Airlines, British Air, and Cathay Pacific are just some of the airlines that are grounding the 747-400 in place of more fuel efficient aircraft. Boeing has launched the 747-800, but so far only Lufthansa has ordered the aircraft for passenger service (several companies have ordered it as a freighter). Since Lufthansa is not a Oneworld partner with American Airlines, the chance of me flying with them is very small.

And that’s it for me for the rest of the year. I don’t have any other trips planned, no mileage runs on the calendar. What a difference from earlier in the year when I was flying so much!

I’ve looked for some 2012 mileage runs, but have not found many good deals. With that I have decided it make more sense for me to put my into flying and re-qualifying for elite status next year. I’ve seen some January-February R/Ts to Seattle for $235 which is good, but certainly not great. I may book some of those as we get later in the year if I can’t find anything better. I’ve looked at and seen some interesting deals (Honolulu to Chicago to Helsinki, Finland and back) but not found any that I can get to work from Austin.

I’ll keep looking, something is bound to show up. However, I think AA is probably holding off on any special deals until it emerges from bankruptcy and possibly merges with another airlines.

Disclaimer: I own stock in AMR Corp, the parent of American Airlines. The total value of my holdings is less than $90.