Airlines Offering Bonus Miles, Incredibly Generous Rebooking Options for Booking Flights Now

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Update 9/1/20: The promotions of American Airlines, Southwest and JetBlue are no longer available.

Qatar has changed the terms of its promotion. This post has been updated to reflect these changes.

At this point, it's probably not necessary to keep repeating how much airlines are suffering. Passenger numbers have hit record lows, travel routes have been cut, aircraft have been retired, and airlines are filing bankruptcy. It’s a mess.

To get some cash flowing in now, several airlines are offering generous bonuses and travel flexibility in hopes of enticing travelers to book future travel now. In this post, we're covering promotions from American Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, and Qatar Airways. Between bonus points, double flight earnings, and the most flexible change/cancellation policy we've ever seen, things are definitely getting interesting.

Earn Double Rapid Rewards Points Flying Southwest

Southwest is awarding double Rapid Rewards Points for all flights through August 31, 2020. There are a bunch of terms for this one:

  • Members must register for this promotion between May 12, 2020August 31, 2020, and registration must be completed prior to booking and commencement of travel.
  • Travel booked or flown prior to registration for this promotion is not eligible to earn double points.
  • To qualify for double points, you must use your Rapid Rewards account number at the time of booking.
  • Southwest defines a qualifying flight as: “a one-way revenue flight on Southwest Airlines from an origin city to a destination city, including any intermediate stops and/or connections.” That means the bonus is per itinerary, not per segment.
  • Bonus points will not count toward A-List, A-List Preferred, or Companion Pass qualification.
  • Changes made to an itinerary after purchase may eliminate qualification for promotion.

Earn Double TrueBlue Points Flying JetBlue

In a similar vein, JetBlue has announced that it's doubling the number of points that TrueBlue members will earn while flying, but with a slightly more generous promotional window than Southwest:

  • Flights must be booked between May 14, 2020June 15, 2020.
  • This promotion is valid for travel between May 14, 2020 – January 4, 2021.
  • There is no limit to the number of points you can earn.
  • Bonus points don't count towards Mosaic Status.
  • No registration is required.

“Travel With Confidence” With Qatar Airways

If it's not already apparent, airlines are trying every trick in the book to attract customers. However, we've never seen anything quite like Qatar Airways' newly announced “Travel With Confidence” policy. The depth of generosity and flexibility is on an entirely new level.

If you book a Qatar Airways ticket by September 30, 2020 for travel through December 31, 2020, you'll have these five options and assurances if your plans change:

  • If your flight gets canceled, you can receive a full cash refund.
  • At any time, you can swap your tickets for Qmiles at a rate of 100 Qmiles per US$1, effectively allowing you to buy Qmiles for 1¢ each.
  • You can hold on to your ticket until you're ready to fly, thanks to an extended 2-year ticket validity period from the date of issuance.
  • Tickets can be exchanged for a future travel voucher with 10% additional value. These vouchers are valid for two years from the date of issuance.
  • You can change your travel date or destination free of charge, as often as you need, for travel until December 31, 2020. Additionally, you may change your origin to another city within the same country, and your destination to any destination that Qatar flies within a 5,000-mile radius(!) of your original destination. Qatar amended the terms and conditions to include new restrictions: You will need to rebook in the same fare class and you must wait 14 days after booking to make a voluntary change.

*Full terms and conditions can be found at the bottom of the promotion page.

Is This Policy Too Good To Be True?

I'm struck immediately by the number of options Qatar has offered. While a couple of these seem like no-brainers (everyone should receive a full cash refund for a cancelled flight), others sound almost too good to be true.

For one, buying Qmiles for 1¢ is an innovative approach since Qmiles are valid for at least three years and are redeemable for a variety of things. With that said, Qatar's Qmiles program is one of the least valuable in the Oneworld alliance, meaning 1¢ per mile is still on the expensive side.

Additionally, gifting an additional 10% value to a travel voucher is almost unheard-of. If you know you're going to need to fly Qatar in the future, you could potentially buy a fare that's cheaper than what you need just to trade it for the voucher—saving you 10% immediately.

The real wildcard here is this change policy. When I first read the news on One Mile at a Time, I honestly thought Qatar had made a typo. Change your destination to anywhere within 5,000 miles? Under this policy, you could book a round-trip ticket from New York to Athens, and then change it to a round trip between Los Angeles and Bangkok—for no charge. This is just bonkers. The obvious drawback is that travel has to occur in 2020.

5,000 miles gives you a lot of options! Image by Great Circle Mapper.

As mentioned above, Qatar has added restrictions to this promotion since we first published. As caught by One Mile At A Time, changes now need to be made more than 14 days after booking, and you'll need to book in the same fare class as you originally purchased. Also, you aren't able to reroute free of charge if the original booking was made on a fifth freedom route (i.e. a route not touching Doha).

American Airlines “When You're Ready to Fly” Promotion

AA launched a limited-time promotion offering up to 5,000 bonus miles for booking and flying AA in 2020. This was initially announced a week ago via email. If you haven't taken advantage of this offer yet, this is your last chance. The general terms include:

  • Register for this promotion by May 18, 2020. Members will find this promo under the ‘Promotions' tab in their AAdvantage account.
  • Book by May 18, 2020, for travel between July 1, 2020December 31, 2020*
  • Earn 500 bonus miles after completing each eligible flight, with a maximum reward of 5,000 total bonus miles

*Remember that flights booked through May 18, 2020 for future travel can be changed at a later date without change fees.

Bottom Line

All of these promotions and policies have one goal in mind: convince people to book flights in 2020. But what will it take to do that? Are these promotions enough?

While the 500 bonus AA miles and double points earnings on Southwest and JetBlue are nice, they don't present near enough reason to gamble on speculative bookings. It's worth registering for them in case the situation changes, but I wouldn't rush to invest in unnecessary tickets.

Qatar's new policy is a conundrum, however. Without getting too much into the morality of it, these policies present a lot of opportunity for outsized value—which can be very alluring. But I have to think that Qatar anticipated that. After all, if selling tickets is the goal, this could be a great means to that end.

Are these new policies and bonuses enough to convince you to book travel for 2020?

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Comments

  • Avatar

    Thank you for the good news in this article! Qatar looks like the best way to get to BKK in Sept. 2020.
    However, if we buy a round-trip ticket and fly the first half in Sept., would there be flexibility on the dates of the return? as much as two years?

  • Avatar
    Leonardo Ostropolsky says:

    I have 4 flights cancel and the never offer us absolutly nothing, they just leave the tickets open for one year and we have to call them and make arrangements for a new flight and also pay extra money if I dont get the same price ticket. Incredible!!! this was with Copa Airlines, Iberia and United.

  • Avatar

    Having the possibilities of changing reservation is great.
    Anyway there are some complications when contacting the customer care: people who don’t talk your language, bad phone communication (VOIP), person not well trained, etc.
    Even more problems when passing through a online agency such as Expedia, Priceline, etc.
    I had a very bad experience when asking a modification and they made a mistake with the date and debited me for something I haven’t asked. And this because they have told me the airlines was not refunding and even not giving a voucher.
    So now I understand when people say to book directly on the airline website!

  • Avatar

    I understand that the situation of the Covid is extremely extraordinary, for which the AA should confirm the rumors that were circulating that all its reserves were going to confirm 3 date changes without notice, that would cause a flow of funds to enter the company helping and helping the company. traveler, doing business for both of them.

  • Avatar

    BA policy is pretty good. They’ll let you rearrange a cancelled flight to later date within ticket validity irrespective of fare code availability.

  • Avatar

    I think its time to pay attention to this incredible bonuses. I want to travel again as soon as possible!!

  • Avatar

    Todas las aerolineas deberian ofrecer las mismas alternativas de flexibilidad para los pasajes ya contratados, de lo contrario todos los viajeros afectados solicitaremos reintegro de los pasajes perjudicando la economia de las empresas. Estamos viviendo una situación atípica a nivel mundial y empresas y consumidores debemos a empezar a ser mas solidarios.

  • Avatar
    Gonzalo Mattos says:

    A 500 mile bonus is nice, but in the actual situation i think a grater effort Is needed.

  • Avatar
    Gabriel Katzman says:

    Crossing my fingers things become okay enough to fly by the end of the year!

  • Avatar

    Not sure 500 miles is enough to incentives people to fly if they are afraid to get sick. Might help if everyone is required to get tested and only healthy passengers are allowed to board.

  • Avatar
    Anthony F says:

    Now is a great time to call in for retention bonuses. Be sure to ask a CSR for retention!

  • Avatar

    Bonuses do seem too good to be true. But since we cannot realistically travel right now, it is too good to be true!

  • Avatar

    Knowing that we want to travel later this year, articles like this one are very helpful. Hoping that you continue sharing information like this on airlines from around the world. Thanks!

  • Avatar

    A 500 mile bonus is nice, but isnt near enough to entice me to book travel right now.

  • Avatar

    Qatar updated their policy somewhat – now you have to a voluntary re-book needs to happen within 14 days of your initial booking, and it has to be the same fare class as the original booking.

  • Avatar

    I missed out on the incredible Qatar Airways offer, but on the other hand there is so much uncertainty about the travel experience, Covid-19’s 2nd and 3rd waves, and destination experience, so it’s best to stay at home for now

  • Avatar

    All these airlines should consider that no every country are in the same stage at covid 19.
    So if they offers a promotion in this moment and I’m not possible to fly from my country because our airports are closed then I can’t take advantage of my memberships.

  • Avatar

    I’m really hoping that things will be back to normal by October, but maybe that is too optimistic. Although I’m dying to get away again, I understand that airports and especially airplanes are some of the worst possible places to be for catching the virus.

    A second wave may completely ruin my plans, but I’m still holding out for an October or even a January getaway! I just hope airlines have proper policies in place. Mandatory masks, good airflow, good cleaning, and empty middle seats if possible.

  • Avatar

    Those are very clever options offered by Qatar to try to ensure they don’t need to refund

  • Avatar

    Great ! I would like to book to go to Paris for christmas

  • Avatar

    I’m debating whether to jump on the QR deal.
    I’m a bit afraid travel this year might still be very difficult.

  • Avatar
    ATLMURRAY says:

    KEEP your ticket NUMBER (usually starts 123xxxxxx with AA, as well as the record locator (six digits). When flights are cancelled, the ticket number disappears from the six-digit record locator number and the ticket agent on the phone asks you for the ticket number.

  • Avatar

    United is noticeably absent. 🙁

  • Avatar

    It’s good to have this information. It is very tempting to book something now to get the extra miles. I know I am going to travel but since it’s during the fall I am a little nervous still if covid comes back. I still would like to book a flight.

  • Avatar

    Unfortunately Qatar has removed the (relatively) cheap business class flights to Kiev from their schedule, so that deal is no longer remotely attractive to me. I probably wouldn’t have jumped on it anyway, since flights needed to be flown this year, but now (with flights costing $4000+) there’s no way I can justify taking advantage of it.

  • Avatar

    Let’s hope that international tourism will be somehow normalized soon.

  • Avatar

    Qatar is getting innovative and we must encourage if. I hope US airlines start doing the same.

    • Avatar

      Totally agree. Unfortunately, my reading of the pandemic science suggests that this is our new normal for still some time more here. So, airlines simply must be considering all options on the table, be willing to try many, while simultaneously feverishly brainstorming to come up with more everyday.

  • Avatar

    I think the best case with Qatar is to take the full cash refund if you can.

  • Avatar

    Does AA think that people who don’t need to fly at this time will book a flight for a bonus of 500 miles (which at most equals $10).

    None of the incentives that I’ve seen are worth much of anything.

    My concern with flying is SAFETY and the airlines seem to only be paying lip service to safety.

    Joel

    • Avatar

      Actually I think a bonus of 500 miles entices the exact demographic their after. Thise of us who stay in the news and play the game know that 500 miles isn’t worth much but those who may not travel often may see this as some version of a huge, rare “sale” to get free miles.

  • Avatar

    I still hope I will get to Tokyo & Sydney later this year:) I still hope…