Sometimes it is wise not to draw attention to a particularly cheap fare an airline has decided to honor.
You can accuse me of being greedy, but I stopped at the transit desk after arriving into Doha and asked if I might convert my pre-issued my hotel voucher to a stay in the airport’s transit hotel.
The agent, at first, was quite open to the idea and began typing. Suddenly, she stopped and a look of confusion spread across her face.
She signaled for her supervisor to come over and they both were pointing to something on their screen and shaking their head. They were speaking Arabic, but it was clear they were talking about the price of my ticket.
I couldn’t help myself. “Good price, isn’t it?” I said, “Golden Ticket!” I was referring to the Golden Ticket sale…Qatar Airways never confirmed whether this was a legitimate sale or mistake fare, but honored all tickets issued.
The supervisor called over his supervisor and the three of them had a conversation that I could not understand, but there was plenty of hand waiving.
Clutching my boarding pass, the supervisor said, “I need to examine your ticket. There is something wrong with it. It’s too cheap.”
He invited me to sit down and then disappeared.
You Can Fly, But Forget the Hotel
About 10 minutes later, he returned and handed me back my boarding pass. You could see it in his face: he did not like the price of my ticket, stating that because of the “special price” of my ticket, Qatar could not offer me a complimentary hotel. He suggested I use the Al-Mourjan lounge and offered to escort me to the security checkpoint (which was only a few paces away).
The Qsuite flight had no internet onboard, so I was already behind in work and had blog posts to write. Thus, I decided not to test my luck any further and simply proceeded through security and to the lounge.
But, Qatar Airways nowhere limits its complimentary transit hotel program to tickets exceeding a certain dollar amount or booked in a certain fare class. One rule: the layover must be 12 hours or longer. This was all the arbitrary decision of a supervisor or his supervisor.
I had a productive layover in the lounge and will soon fly to Ho Chi Minh City. It wasn’t the layover I was expecting, but at least I did not get stranded in Doha or downgraded to economy class.
My advice: if you are traveling on one of these tickets, don’t talk to an agent about it.