Qatar Airways is a great airline. Qatar business class service is the best in the world and even better than first class on some airlines.
On April 25, 2019, Qatar announced that members of the TSA/Pre program now have access to those services when flying Qatar. For the first time TSA/Pre will be available for all of its flights from the United States. TSA/Pre saves a lot of time at airports like New York JFK.
TSA/Pre is a program for citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canadian citizens that takes much of the hassle out of TSA security checks. You still go through security but need not remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, and jackets, or take out laptops. TSA/Pre security lines are usually shorter than regular security lines and they move faster.
Joining the program costs $85 for a five-year membership. There are several credit cards including Chase Sapphire, Citi Prestige, and Amex Platinum that cover the cost for their cardholders. The application is online and requires a background check and a brief in-person interview.
This Is Good News for Some American Airlines Frequent Flyers
As explained below, American Airlines frequent flyers seeking to achieve elite status for minimum cost fly (like me) can benefit from flying Qatar Airways. Including Qatar flights in TSA/Pre makes the process easier and more convenient.
American Airlines elite status requires an annual number of flight miles (25,000 – 100,00) or segments and Qualification Dollars ($3,000 – $15,000) depending on the elite level. Because I do a lot of long-haul international flying each year reaching 100,000 flight miles is a cinch. But cheap coach fares on long distance flights leave me far short, thankfully, of the $15,0000 threshold for top-tier Executive Platinum status.
Flying on Oneworld airlines like Qatar is one way to reduce the amount of out-of-pocket spend to reach Qualification Dollar thresholds. That’s because for flights on other Oneworld airlines, American calculates Qualification Dollars as a percentage of miles flown not the amount paid for the ticket.
Qatar business class earns American Qualifying Dollars equal to 20% (Classes R and I) or 25% (Classes J, C, or D) of distance flown. For example, a 20,000 mile round trip Qatar business class flight to Asia translates to $4,000 or $5,000 Qualifying Dollars. From time to time, Qatar offers relatively inexpensive business class fares on these flights for $2,000 – $2,500 that will rack up double that amount in Qualification Dollars.
Combined with putting $25,000 annual spend on an American Airlines credit card that counts for $3,000 in Qualification Dollars, it is possible to reach the Qualification thresholds by spending less than half the amount American is asking for. Of course,whether “cheap” elite status matters depends on personal goals and circumstances. I’m one who finds great value in it. Anything that makes getting cheap status more convenient to attain is a plus in my book.
Once you have experienced TSA/Pre, it is hard to put up with regular security lines and procedures. Lines at large international gateways like New York JFK can be long and vexing. A lot of my Qatar flights originate there. Many passengers in the regular security lines are tourists who speak little or no English, and TSA agents speak English and Spanish primarily. The resulting communication issues add time and stress to the screening process. Now we can bypass that scene when flying Qatar. Just give the airline your Known Traveler Number when making the reservation.