Qatar Airways promised us a visit … after which canceled it. Assist!

Qatar Airways generously awarded greater than 100,000 free tickets to frontline healthcare staff throughout the international pandemic. The worldwide lottery for this sweepstakes was a means for the airline to specific its deep gratitude to those devoted professionals.

Gaytri Patel, a resident doctor and dependable TPG reader, was thrilled to be chosen as one of many recipients of the reward. However with the pandemic dragging on for years, she and her husband discovered it difficult to redeem their two free airline tickets.

After a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt to take action, Qatar Airways confirmed the Patels on a visit to Thailand scheduled for December 2022. It appeared just like the couple would lastly be capable of benefit from the airline’s thank-you gesture.

Sadly, there was one other impediment on the horizon for the Patels. Simply weeks earlier than the scheduled journey, Qatar Airways instantly canceled their tickets and refused to reinstate them.

With hundreds of {dollars} on the road in nonrefundable lodge bookings and time working out, Patel requested TPG for assist.

Qatar Airways says thanks to frontline healthcare staff


In Could 2020, two months after the World Well being Group declared a international pandemic, Qatar Airways introduced a ticket giveaway to award complimentary flights to frontline healthcare staff.

“United in dedication, we share our gratitude. Now it’s our flip to offer one thing again to these on the healthcare frontline. There aren’t any phrases or gestures which can be sufficient to repay these courageous women and men however we hope that our small provide of a complimentary return flight on Qatar Airways will enable them to get pleasure from a well-deserved vacation, go to household and pals or discover a vacation spot they’ve all the time dreamed of, as journey restrictions begin to ease.”

– Qatar Airways press launch

The discharge went on to elucidate that the lottery was open to frontline healthcare staff all around the globe. Every skilled chosen from the pool of candidates would obtain two round-trip economic system tickets — one for themselves and one for a companion — anyplace Qatar Airways flies.

It was a very beneficiant providing. Healthcare staff around the globe jumped on the probability to take part within the free airline ticket giveaway, and Patel and her husband have been two of these hopeful candidates.

“We have been stunned however very grateful after we acquired notification that I had received,” Patel recalled. “I couldn’t wait to begin planning our journey!”

Join our each day publication

The complimentary tickets had a slight hitch: a December 2020 expiration date. As physicians, the couple suspected that the pandemic wouldn’t have run its course by the top of 2020. However constrained by the expiration date on the free tickets, they went forward and booked a visit.

“We confirmed tickets to Bangkok and hoped that the quarantine and different restrictions can be lifted by December,” Patel informed me.

After all, we now know that the coronavirus would proceed to trigger huge disruptions within the journey business for the next two years.

The Patels wouldn’t be going to Thailand as deliberate.

Qatar Airways extends the expiration date of reward flights

As you in all probability guessed, Qatar Airways was pressured to cancel the Patels’ flight to Thailand that yr. When the notification of the cancellation arrived, it was no shock to the couple.

“We figured the flight can be canceled,” Patel informed me. “The quarantine was nonetheless in place, and there have been all types of different restrictions. It was for one of the best as a result of Parth and I have been nonetheless very busy working. It wasn’t actually an acceptable time for a trip.”

When Qatar Airways canceled the journey, Patel was issued a flight credit score to make use of inside the subsequent yr. That is in step with the Division of Transportation’s guidelines about flight cancellations for journeys originating within the U.S.

The upshot: Airways should refund a passenger to the unique fee technique when the service cancels a flight. On this case, Qatar Airways canceled the flight that was a reward ticket, so that they have been required to refund the couple within the type of a reward ticket.

One other yr left to redeem their present from Qatar Airways


Now the couple had a further yr to redeem their present from Qatar Airways.

“We tried once more and booked a substitute journey to Thailand for March 2021,” Patel informed me.

It wasn’t lengthy, although, earlier than Patel acquired a cancellation discover from Qatar Airways. “As a result of operational causes,” in response to the airline, these flights have been canceled, too.

The Patels tried once more and booked the identical flights for January 2022. However by then, there had been a brand new surge in COVID-19 instances and Thailand had reinstated its quarantine guidelines for vacationers.

“There was no doable means that we might adjust to the quarantine necessities with our restricted trip time,” defined Patel. “So, I referred to as Qatar and defined our downside. At that time, we simply needed to ebook as far out as doable. We have been uninterested in canceling and rescheduling again and again. Qatar confirmed us on flights in early December 2022.”

The couple started to suppose that they might by no means be taking their dream trip to Thailand.

Lastly redeeming the free flights from Qatar Airways

As 2022 progressed and pandemic-related worldwide journey restrictions started to ease, the Patels have been assured that their journey to Thailand was going to occur.

However then the 2 physicians received some some scheduling information from their residency program. Now the journey that they had booked in early December wouldn’t be doable.

For the sixth time, Patel discovered herself contacting Qatar to reschedule the couple’s dream trip.

“The agent allowed us to rebook our flights for the top of December which match into our residency schedule. We have been so trying ahead to this journey,” Patel defined to me. “After Qatar Airways confirmed our flights, I made all the opposite preparations. We have been so excited!”

With all of the planning full in early April, all that was left to do was wait.

However then in September, six months after Qatar Airways had confirmed their journey to Thailand, Patel acquired an e mail a couple of schedule change.

When Patel referred to as the airline to debate the alteration, the agent defined that one leg of their itinerary had been canceled. As Qatar’s consultant was looking for a substitute flight, she instantly positioned the couple on a prolonged maintain.

When the agent returned, she had disturbing information.

This promo is over and your flights are canceled

“The consultant mentioned that she had proceeded to ‘droop’ our tickets since our journey was past the validity time level for the healthcare tickets promo (which supposedly resulted in Could 2022),” Patel informed me.

“Understandably, we have been livid, as we had these tickets confirmed for over six months, with not a single e mail from Qatar Airways relating to this.”

The agent concluded their dialog, and Patel quickly acquired a affirmation of the cancellation of their flights to Thailand.

The couple discovered the flip of occasions arduous to imagine. They started a brand new mission — looking for somebody at Qatar Airways who would reinstate their flights. However regardless of weeks of making an attempt to contact anybody on the airline who might assist, the couple appeared out of luck.

Then Patel had one other thought: She requested TPG for assist.

Determining what went fallacious

When Patel’s plea for assist landed in my inbox, she was in a panic. Her journey was in peril. She had been relying on Qatar Airways to fly her to Thailand and had booked practically $10,000 in nonrefundable lodges, excursions and home airfare inside Thailand.

“Nobody at Qatar Airways is ready to assist me. We now not have tickets to fly to Thailand, and we are able to’t cancel the nonrefundable elements of this journey. Are you able to assist us?”

Reviewing the timeline of occasions, I might see that somebody at Qatar Airways had made an error with the couple’s reward in March. Though the airline had issued a number of extensions of its present to healthcare heroes around the globe, the free tickets did formally expire in Could 2022.

That remaining expiration date of the promo was a “fly by” date, not a “ebook by” date. When it comes to flight credit, that distinction is essential. The flight credit some airways, akin to American Airways, situation have a “fly by” coverage, after which they’re unusable. For different airways, akin to United Airways, which has a “ebook by” coverage, passengers could make their bookings proper as much as the expiration date after which fly past that date.

Qatar Airways’ healthcare heroes promo had “fly by” expiration phrases. That meant Patel and her husband would have wanted to start their journey by Could 2022. However the agent that they had initially spoken to at Qatar Airways allowed the couple to order an itinerary past that date.

For that cause, I centered my investigation on seeing if I might get the couple’s tickets reinstated since that they had not been knowledgeable of the issue till after that they had booked all the nonrefundable parts of their trip.

Will Qatar Airways reinstate the flights for these healthcare heroes?

I needed to get the Patels’ case in entrance of somebody at Qatar Airways who had the flexibility to dig deep into the circumstances.

As a shopper advocate and reporter, I’ve entry to executives that the common individual doesn’t. I reached out to our media contact at Qatar Airways and made a plea for the couple and received a speedy and felicitous response:

“Hello Michelle,

Thanks once more for elevating this and now we have appeared into this, I’m pleased to say the workforce has already been in contact straight with the shopper and had the reserving reinstated with our apologies.

The tickets for healthcare staff was an especially essential gesture for the airline given their dedication to the world throughout the darkest days of the pandemic and we need to guarantee individuals get the flights to which they’re entitled.

Form regards, **** Qatar Airways Company communications”

Two months after somebody at Qatar Airways had unceremoniously canceled the Patels’ vacation journey, their tickets have been reinstated. This constructive decision got here two weeks after I joined the Patels’ battle to get their flights reinstated (I had additionally had a tough time discovering somebody on the airline who might assist them).

The Patels’ much-needed trip was again on. And this time, it could really occur.

Qatar Airways makes it proper

As a result of TPG interceded, these deserving frontline healthcare staff took their long-awaited journey to Thailand. The Patels had a beautiful time and thanked Qatar Airways for his or her generosity and TPG for our help.

“Hello Michelle!

We’re so grateful to you and your workforce for your entire arduous work you set into this- with out you guys none of this may have been doable! So thanks all a lot!!!! 😊”

Backside line

Profitable a prize from an airline is thrilling — there is no query about that.

The Patels have been in a position to get pleasure from their dream trip to Thailand, but it surely isn’t probably that the couple would have been in a position to obtain this final result had they not reached out to TPG.

Sadly, by the point all the celebrities aligned between their schedules and worldwide journey restrictions, the free flight award had expired, in response to the positive print of the competition.

Individuals have an obligation to acquaint themselves with the foundations of any prize they win so that they don’t land in a state of affairs like this couple discovered themselves — with hundreds of {dollars} in jeopardy due to a misunderstanding and an airline agent’s mistake.

The Patels nearly misplaced out on what turned out to be an unforgettable journey, and their story might have simply had a special ending.

Fortunately, TPG was in a position to step in and assist. Finally, Qatar Airways determined to increase the couple’s prize yet one more time so they may lastly take their journey.

This case underscores the significance of listening to the phrases and circumstances of advantages, rewards or prizes you obtain. You’ve got a duty to try this as a result of when you don’t, you may not be as fortunate because the Patels.

If you end up in a irritating state of affairs with an organization and may’t attain a decision, ship your story to ideas@thepointsguy and I will probably be pleased that will help you, too.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button