Bad News: GOL Smiles Ends Partnership With Qatar Airways Effective Immediately, June 1 2021

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This is big and unfortunate: GOL Smiles has just sent out an email to members informing them that they have ended their partnership with Qatar Airways with immediate effect as per June 1, 2021.

The end of the partnership does not affect customers who have already issued Qatar tickets unless they come into the situation where a ticket needs to be changed.

This is yet another instance of a very unfriendly pattern that GOL Smiles has been famous for in the past, suddenly changing important parameters of the program without any notice.

In  the past Gol Smiles has suddenly amended their award chart, disabled availability and also dropped partners with little to no notice whatsoever just like in this case.

Members were informed about this pretty much after the fact via email today:

Here is a translation via Google Translate:

Hi Sebastian,

Transparency and trust are values ​​that guide our conduct with you.

Please be advised that as of today, 06/01/2021, Smiles ends its partnership for ticket redemption and miles accrual with Qatar Airways.

The end of the partnership does not affect customers who have already issued Qatar tickets (except for customers who decide to cancel or reschedule their flight), nor does it affect tickets issued with the Viaje Fácil product, which have not yet been paid (except if the settlement is not made in the maximum period allowed by the Product).

Customers who flew Qatar until 05/31/2021, from tickets purchased in cash (eligible to earn Smiles Miles), and have not yet requested mileage credit, will have until 10/31/2021 to make the request. Rest assured that we maintain our commitment to always provide the best experiences for you and we continue to rely on GOL and 58 other airlines that take you to more than 1,600 different destinations.

Thanks, Smiles team.

I think the absolute biggest joke that adds insult to injury in this case is the first paragraph Transparency and trust are values ​​that guide our conduct with you“. Yeah right, dropping a redemption partner on the same day and retroactively notifying customer and the previous actions they took, ranging from steeply increasing their redemption chart to blocking partner availability really account for transparency and trust. NOT!

This greatly devalues GOL Smiles for it’s members who often used it for international trips. I often reported about successful redemptions of Smiles award tickets through our series Award Success such as this Business Class ticket from Bangkok to Frankfurt.

Qatar was one of the last partners left that had a good international network and where the required miles for redemption were reasonable. The only attractive partner that’s now remaining is Korean Air but I should really be quiet and not give them any more bad ideas.

I’m still a Clube Smiles member which is a paid subscription service, adding a small number of Smiles to my account each month and that gives more attractive redemption rates. As of this moment I have about 100,000 miles left in this account. It’d probably be prudent that I find some purpose for these miles in the near future, the sooner the better. Ideally on Korean Air to Europe or North America.

Gol Smiles should have provided adequate notice about Qatar Airways leaving the program as a partner. I’m sure their contract also required some advance notice to each other. GOL probably wanted to avoid a run on Qatar Airways tickets and decided to just stop all redemptions or collection of Smiles immediately.

Usually when frequent flyer programs and their partners split the reason for that is that one of them exits the respective market or they stopped their codeshare agreement. Sometimes the partnership doesn’t make any commercial sense anymore which could very well be the case with GOL/Qatar. In any case this was very badly handled.

Conclusion

As of June 1, 2021 GOL Smiles ends its partnership for ticket redemption and miles accrual with Qatar Airways. Customers who flew Qatar until 05/31/2021, from tickets purchased in cash (eligible to earn Smiles Miles), and have not yet requested mileage credit, will have until 10/31/2021 to claim these miles as retroactive credit.

This has severe, negative implications on the program structure and once again shows that you can’t trust certain programs that are located in countries without any noteworthy consumer protection legislation.

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