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One of the biggest dilemmas we face as points-and-miles travelers is whether to pay with miles or money, something I dealt with when I had to book my flight home from Cape Town at the end of my Africa adventure. This time, I figured out it was better for me to purchase my ticket home (instead of using 75,000 AAdvantage miles). After a quick search on Google Flights, I paid $1,536 for my flight in business class on Qatar Airways from Cape Town (CPT) to New York (JFK) via Doha (DOH).
Since Qatar Airways is part of the Oneworld Alliance, I had my flight credited to American Airlines so I could earn both elite-qualifying miles and award miles. Thanks to a sweet combination of flight distance, the 25% bonus I got for booking in business class and the 100% mileage bonus I got for being an Executive Platinum member, I managed to earn a whopping 25,463 miles! Not only that, I also earned 11,317 elite-qualifying miles plus 4,608 Amex Membership Rewards points for using my Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card — which gave me 3x the points on airfare purchases — to book.
With American Airlines switching to a revenue-based system later this year, I couldn’t help but wonder how many miles I would have gotten. The answer: 16,896 since I would have earned 11x the miles as an Executive Platinum member. Not bad, but still not as good as what I got for purchasing this flight. Even for business-class tickets that are relatively cheap, you’re better off with the distance-based model.
For a look at Qatar’s business-class product and how I spent 10 hours exploring the enchanting city of Doha, check out Episode 9 of TPGtv, below.
Rather than just flying through Doha without ever leaving the airport, as I’ve done on other trips, I opted for a 10-hour layover this time so I could get out and explore the city. We had someone on the ground there helping us plan my little adventure, but you can still rent a dhow like I did for a pretty reasonable rate — usually just $40-$200 depending on which one you choose. It was pretty cool being able to see the city from the Persian Gulf.
I stopped by the St. Regis Doha, a stunning SPG Category 6 hotel (rates start at about $316 or 20,000 Starpoints per night in April). It’s also home to the only Jazz at Lincoln Center outside the US, a great spot to see some live music. I was only in Doha for a few hours, but would definitely stay there if I was going back.
Visiting Doha’s Souq Waqif at night was great, a rare chance to check it out by yourself and spend time wandering up and down all the little alleyways — it kind of felt like I was on the set of an old Western film. Meeting up with local comedy superstar “The Qatari Guy” was really fun, too.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to film during my Qatar flight, so we don’t have tons of footage in this episode, but at least I did get to give it a full review in this post. The 777 offered a 2-2-2 seat configuration in business class, which was fine. I liked the Champagne options and the fully lie-flat bed was really comfortable. Nice staff. Good food. I slept like a baby.
That being said, avoid Qatar’s 777 if you can, as there are more exciting options available. Definitely go on the 787 Dreamliner, the A380 or the A350 if you can — TPG’s Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig had a memorable flight on the carrier’s A350 last year, and I’m excited to test it out myself this summer.
Well, that brings us to the end of Season 1 of TPGtv. My Africa trip was amazing and I can’t wait to go back this June.
Can’t wait to see what I’m working on next? Follow along with all my travel adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s coming up on TPGtv, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Points Guy on YouTube — you’ll be notified as soon as each new episode appears.
With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.
- Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
- No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
- Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
- There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
- Terms and limitations apply.
- See Rates & Fees