United loses Qatar, its last partner from the Middle East

a plane parked at an airportAirlines of the Middle East – Emirates, Etihad, Qatar are all hot commodities. They have excellent service, a great on-board product and are offering more and more routes all over the world. They are also buying up all new aircraft to make their flight experience even better. They also have kept away from alliances and have formed their own network of partners.

United, on the other hand, while it is also expanding its routes to the Middle East, has lost both its airline partners in the Middle East. It lost Emirates as a partner last year and later this year will be losing Qatar as a partner. Both were excellent partners to earn and redeem miles on. I actually almost booked Business class award seats on Qatar for this summer. It did not work out due to availability on the dates I wanted.

What is United’s strategy here? Is it trying to build its Middle East presence so hard that the partners see it as competition rather than ‘partners’? Or did they just piss their partners off and got dropped! What do you think? Are you sad to see Emirates and Qatar go? Leave a comment below.

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  1. I guess airlines of the Middle East are not seeing much value in the partnership

  2. Absolutely! Egyptair and Turkish Airlines are good airlines but they lack the je ne sais quois that these airlines offer.

  3. I think UA dumped QR. QR has started selling interline tickets with JetBlue at very reasonable prices, i.e., the partnership is no longer just for expensive tickets (like the interline fares using multiple old carriers), but actually very competitive. I think that flipped the coin in Chicago and thus now United see QR just like the European carriers do.

  4. Please fix the “it’s” in the post title. It’s driving me crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And thanks for the informative post.

  5. Yeah ..I guess Middle East carriers are not seeing much value in the alliance as there are not many Emirates/Qatar frequent flyers redeeming miles on United etc… On the other hand there are alot of US based flyers redeeming miles on gulf carriers…also with JetBlue and Virgin America offering efficient and cost-effective services at major airports namely JFK, LAX and SFO… it makes life difficult with United

  6. I thought Emirates was one of the worst airlines I’ve flown. When I was bumped in Dubai at midnight, I could not talk to anyone with a brain until 7 AM. United at least tried to help.

  7. @JJ, @Jonathan, @Ian, thanks for catching my grammar errors (darn Mac auto correct). They have been fixed!

    [Note to self – expand reader audience beyond Elementary School English teachers… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ]

  8. My theory is that UA dropped the Middle Eastern carriers now that UA has its own aircraft flying regularly to/from the Middle East. Redemptions of UA M+ miles on those carriers could not have been cheap for UA. Eliminating the code-sharing and partnerships encourages UA flyers to fly UA to/from the Middle East.

    I think this makes good business sense for UA. Travellers might have a different view, of course.

  9. How much would united have to pay for redemptions. How are those agreements structured?

  10. I Fly all over the world weekly as part of my Job. I’m English, I hate British Airways with a passion. With experince speaking the Middle Eastern Airlines are blowing the world out of the water. Airlines that hail from America are as one dimensional as British Airways for me. The best Airline as far as sitting on a plane and doing the time is Emirates, Econ, Buiseness and 1st are a far higher than any western airline. I do admitt however that their Hub, Dubai is pretty poor. It’s a real shame because they have everything else so right. The best Hub in the world I find is Schipol, nothing comes close and every other Airport in the world should look at this place and try and learn something from it. Just my personal experiences.

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