STOPOVER PAID BY CARRIER (STPC)

Qatar Airways runs a transit package, also affectionately known as a Stopover Paid by Carrier or STPC, are for passengers with a transit connection of over 8 hours but under 24 hours.

The eligibility rules for the transit pass are somewhat complex as Qatar Airways are extremely strict on the rules to stop people abusing the system.

This guide hopefully will hopefully fill in any blanks and clarify the matter.

Just to make it absolutely clear, Qatar Airways STPC is a separate program to the Visit Qatar transit programme – The latter offers a free layover in Doha to visit the city.


In some cases, Qatar Airways will arrange accommodation, entry visas, airport transfers and meals for passengers facing extended transit times in Doha.

A Brief History of Qatar Airways STPC

The Qatar Airways STPC program developed as a solution to a self-made problem arising from their fleet scheduling in that some passengers may be left waiting in transit for an extensive period of time due to how flights to middle eastern transit hubs operate.

The issue is that Qatar Airways wants to build Hamad International Airport as an international hub, and to do so, it must offer a compelling reason why you would want to do a stopover instead of flying direct. Especially if you are impacted badly by it’s scheduling.

For those who are unfamiliar, If you look at Qatar’s flight schedule (or even Emirates or Etihad for that matter) you will see that at a certain time of day a majority of flights will all arrive and then all depart shortly after. By virtue of how a runways work, only 1 flight can land at a time meaning that all these flights are staggered in an intense and choreographed motion to minimise transit times for as many people as possible, getting this wrong costs the airline money and is bad for passengers as we really don’t want to be in transit for more than they need to be. All of this happens two times a day.


What you will see is that flights from the east will arrive first followed by flights from the west, flights going eastbound will then depart and then finally flights going west will depart.

While flights going east-to-west should have little issue in terms of transit, you can see that in some cases that flighting west-to-east will pose a problem if you do not have enough time to transit or your flight from the west arrives after your flight to the east has departed.

Thus, Qatar airways put in place the STPC program for these exact instances where you have to wait for the next rotation of flights to depart (which potentially can be 8 to 24 hours away) to get to your destination.

In practice though, its significance is not because the airline will offer you a hotel to lounge in (or a city tour if you prefer) for the time you have to wait, but its more important function is to provide a route to gain an entry visa to those people who are unable to qualify for an entry visa upon arrival.




BASIC RULES OF
QATAR AIRWAYS STPC

Due to the benefit of this offer, Qatar Airways naturally wants to stamp out any possible form of abuse.

This is why the airline takes a very firm view, outlining the rules and taking a “you qualify or not” approach to the STPC program.

Your only recourse to getting an STPC by Qatar Airways is to meet all the airline’s requirements.

Main Eligibility Requirements

Qatar Airways has two absolute rules which trip most passengers up and will render any request ineligible. These are the headline rules which provide a quick guide to see if you are eligible or not

01

8 to 24 hour rule

To qualify, you must be in transit for no less than 8 hours and no more than 24 hours. This rule is enforced to the minute and if you are out, even by one minute, you will not be eligible into the program.

In Practice, if you book in advance, you can clearly see if your transit times will be within the required window, you can apply and this will be granted (assuming you meet the other rules too).

However, nearer time or even on the day of travel, Qatar Airways may adjust their schedule so that you are now outside of the allowable timeframe; if this happens and you were issued an STPC voucher this will be revoked.

02

No Alternative flights

The must not be an alternative flight you can take which you can take whereby the transit time is under 8 hours.

STPC is only given if you are forced to have a long layover, rather than if you choose to have a long layover.

What this means is that if there is a route on a given day from your originating destination to your final destination on offer with a transit time of less than eight hours then Qatar Airways will deem this as a “reasonable alternative” even though, at the time of booking, the cost of that alternative flight is more expensive or sold out.

Codeshare flights marketed with a QR flight number count towards the timer.

Additional Considerations

Additionally, there are other important rules which also need to be met, but these are more obvious and do not trip passengers up too easily.

  • You must have the transit take place in Doha, Qatar;
  • There must be a transit – separate tickets (such as one ticket into Doha and one leaving Doha) do not qualify for STPC;
  • Your itinerary cannot include a flight to or from Kuwait (KWI) or Muscat (MCT).
  • The ticket must be on “QR 157 Stock” meaning the ticket must be issued by Qatar Airways and start with 157-xxxx to be eligible;
  • If on a reward/award booking, this must be booked through Qatar Airways and not through any other Oneworld partner for Qatar Airways flights.
  • To have a free STPC your underlying ticket must have cost at least US$400 one direction (excluding taxes and surcharges) – however if the ticket is less than this, you may still get an STPC but you may be required to financially contribute towards it;
  • Applications for the STPC can be made 361 days in advance but no later than 72 hours prior to departure.
  • For group bookings, different rules apply.
  • If you hold a temporary passport/travel document, you are ineligible for STPC.
  • Not all economy class tickets are eligible for STPC

economy Fare eligibility

Depending on the economy fare class you are ticketed into, you may be eligible for a complementary STPC.

Revenue First and Business class tickets are automatically eligible for STPC.

Eligible for Free STPC

Booking classes in economy which are eligible for STPC include:

N | S | V | L | G | M | K | H | B | Y

Ineligible for Free STPC

Booking classes in economy which are ineligible for STPC include:

X | I | V | O | T | W | Q | O


TYPES OF QATAR AIRWAYS STPC

Should you meet the above rules, you will be eligible for a Qatar Airways STPC, however, the airline operates two variants of the program depending on your ticketed fare-class and how much you have paid for the ticket.

Complementary stpc

A free Qatar Airways STPC is available if the basic rules are met, plus

  1. The booking class is in fare class N or above; and
  2. Hold a ticket where the cost of the ticket in one direction (including and carrier-imposed surcharges) total more than US$400

Paid For stpc

A Paid for Qatar Airways STPC is available if the basic rules are met, plus

  1. The booking class is below fare class N; or
  2. Hold a ticket where the cost of the ticket in one direction (including and carrier-imposed surcharges) total less than US$400

Additionally, Qatar Airways Privilege Club redemption ticket in Economy or Business Class are required to pay for an STPC

First & Business Class customers: 150 USD fee per person
Economy Class customers: 125 USD fee per person


WHAT’S INCLUDED IN A QATAR AIRWAYS STPC

Qatar Airways Stopover Paid by Carrier includes:

  • A hotel room for the duration of your stay;
  • A temporary entry visa into Doha;
  • A transfer to and from the hotel;
  • A meal voucher (if the transit is longer than 11 hours)
  • Al Maha Meet and Greet Service (Business and First Class passengers only)

Hotel Accomodation

A 3* Hotel is offered if you are travelling in Economy, if unavailable, a 4* will be provided. Economy class passengers will not be provided with the name of the hotel in the STPC booking unit the arrival date as this is subject to availability.

A 5* Hotel is offered if you are travelling in Business or First Class, if unavailable, a 4* will be provided. Business and First class passengers will be provided with the name of the hotel in advance.

If you are travelling in mixed cabins then a 5* Hotel is offered, if unavailable, a 4* will be provided.

Possible hotels list https://www.discoverqatar.qa/hotel-deals/

The Hotel Confirmation is applicable only for the listed Passenger and travel itinerary. The confirmation will be invalidated if there are any changes in the Passenger Name / Flight Number / Flight Date / Flight Time /class of travel or any other variation to the Passenger Name Record (PNR) after the Confirmation Receipt has been generated.

Meal vouchers

If your transit time (calculated from the scheduled time of the arrival to the scheduled departure time) is greater than 11 hours, a monetary value will be printed on your STPC Hotel Voucher.

To claim the meal voucher, present the STPC voucher to the hotel and claim any meal to the given value. If the value of the meal is in excess of the meal voucher then you will be required to pay the difference. The meal allowance is non-refundable and cannot be exchanged for cash.


IMPORTANT FINAL REMARKS ABOUT QATAR AIRWAYS STPC

With all said and done there are still some final comments which do need to be addressed to fully understand the Qatar Airways Stopover Paid by Carrier.

  • Whether or not you qualify for entry upon arrival or require a visa, entry into the state of Qatar is not guaranteed as this is still subject to the immigration authorities. For example, while you may be eligible for a free STPC in both directions of travel, Tourist Visa regulations can fluctuate and may impact overall ability to use the STPC – such as a Tourist visa only being granted in one direction of travel on a return ticket. See more information here: https://www.qatarairways.com/en-gb/qatar-transit-visa.html
  • If you intend to make use of the STPC, remember that your baggage will be checked through to your final destination. Bring a change of clothes and any medication you require as if it was a regular short transit.
  • Promotional fares, depending on price, may be eligible for free STPC. Although they must meet the requirement for free STPC. it may be good to check the fare rules before purchasing the ticket.
  • If you are eligible for STPC and upgraded your ticket (thereby travelling in fare class ‘U’) then you will be placed in the class you upgraded from ie. If you upgraded from Economy to Business then you will be classed in economy for the purposes of the STPC
  • If you are eligible for a paid STPC but do not use USD as your main form of currency, you can choose to use your home currency which is then calculated to US$400 using Qatar Airways’ internal exchange rate.

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