Qatar Airways cash upgrades online: Paying for a cabin upgrade – a bargain or buyer’s remorse?

qatarairways offers customers several ways to upgrade their flights, and one they tend to push quite frequently is cash upgrades when checking in online or an offer by e-mail in advance.

I myself have upgraded Qatar Airways flights quite frequently this way as they sometimes offer quite attractive prices and even a 10% discount if you upgrade both sectors when connecting via Doha.

It’s no surprise that most passengers simply connect to Hamad International Airport rather than ending or beginning their journey there, so Qatar Airways has taken this into account and is offering a discount to people who upgrade both. segments (if available).

Here’s how QR advertises the benefits of such an upgrade:

What is remarkable is that cash upgrades to QR Business Class do not include lounge access based on class of service only. If you have oneWorld status, you may have access to the designated lounge for that level, but otherwise you will not be able to enjoy the lounge.

I received an offer and then checked in for my flight from Bangkok to Rome via Doha last Thursday:

When I booked this ticket I decided to pay for an upgrade if the price was reasonable because this one way ticket was booked through Celebrity Cruises when they had a $500 airfare special , so my total was $180. Qatar Airways is not my favorite economy class in the world, far from it. But at this price I could not say no, especially aggravated by the fact that there is no longer a direct connection between Bangkok and Rome so a correspondence was inevitable.

On top of all that, this flight had Q Suites as it was downgraded from the Airbus A380 to the Boeing 77W a week before departure.

I accepted the offer and also used a random amount of just over 5000 Qatar Airways miles that was in a family member’s account:

This is around US$480 which is reasonable for a 7 hour flight. Service was good, but not as polished as it used to be, and food options outside of Bangkok are pretty poor. I definitely upgraded this flight for Q Suites.

You can upgrade with Qatar Airways in the following ways:

  • Upgrading miles using Avios
  • Upgrade using Q-Credits
  • Online cash upgrades based on email offer
  • Online cash upgrades upon check-in
  • Cash upgrade at the airport upon check-in

I had a longer layover in Doha and had planned to enter the country for some air between stops. I even registered for everything in advance, and since I had completed a full PCR test for the upcoming cruise the next day, it was no problem to get approved quickly within 15 minutes of the request.

However, Qatar Airways considers its premium arrival channel in Doha to be part of a lounge and therefore refuses to allow online upgrades again to use this option.. It’s not explicitly stated in any of their offer descriptions. Why is an immigration channel part of a trade show? This interpretation is ridiculous.

The business class arrival line at Doha airport was unstaffed, the organization of these lines was terrible and the customs people were rude. I decided to forget about it and go to the staging area.

I don’t know how they want to run the World Cup this year with that kind of service mentality. I would really like this to become an embarrassing failure for Qatar and they are on the best way to achieve this, taking into account all the current reports.


Qatar Airways cash upgrades can be a great way to make your trip much more comfortable. Keep in mind that the airline offers several business class products in the air and not all of them are as nice as the Q-Suites. I probably wouldn’t have been upgraded to their regular business class seats to be honest.

I would always consider all perks when upgrading. I am already oneWorld Emerald so I get level benefits. However, in economy class, I would not have gotten the departure fast lane at Bangkok airport. In case I was traveling with luggage, the upgrade would have given me an extra 10 kg. This didn’t apply to me since I was only traveling with hand luggage, but good to know that option exists. Sometimes paying an extra 10 kg is already half the price of an upgrade.

That Qatar Airways does not allow travelers with a paid online upgrade to use the arrivals fast lane is a joke. I also don’t think their classification of business class travelers into economy fare classes really does the carrier’s product and reputation a disservice. I never understood this approach of selling an economical Business Class product with light premium services.