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Cleared for Takeoff: A 5-star trip from Phoenix to Dubai for two

May 04, 2021
13 min read
Dubai Skyline
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Cleared for Takeoff is a weekly series showing readers like you the best ways to book post-pandemic adventures using points and miles.

Dubai is open for American tourists so long as you pack a negative COVID-19 test. While cash rates are usually high, you can visit the glitzy desert- and skyscraper-filled city for little out of pocket using hard-earned points and miles. Reader Adney Koga recently reached out to us about booking an award trip to the Emirati city this fall:

My wife and I are looking to book a trip to Dubai during Oct 1-10 of this year. Home airport is PHX. There will be two of us. This would be our first trip in 7yrs without our kids, so looking forward to it.

Adney and his wife have a mix of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, United MileagePlus miles and American Express Membership Rewards points.

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Current points stash

Adney and his wife are in a good position in terms of their points and miles balance. With a combined total of about 260,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, 202,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles, 78,000 United MileagePlus miles and 188,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, they have enough points and miles to cover two round-trip business-class tickets to Dubai and a nine-night hotel stay.

  • 260,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
  • 175,762 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
  • 26,433 American Airlines AAdvantage miles (wife).
  • 77,711 United MileagePlus miles.
  • 62,876 American Express Membership Rewards points.
  • 125,126 American Express Membership Rewards points (wife).

Related: The best elevated credit card offers to sign up for

Airfare to Dubai

Route: PHX-DFW-DOH-DXB

Miles needed: 140,000 American miles + $45.40

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Unfortunately for Adney and his wife, there aren't any nonstop flights from Phoenix (PHX) to Dubai (DXB) and the one-stop options are limited. So, they'll likely end up needing two layovers and should expect at least around 24 hours of travel each way. Adney didn't specify which cabin they'd like to fly in, but given the long flight times and their points balances, I'm going to recommend premium-cabin flights for their journey. Plus, they're going to Dubai after all, so it would be fitting for them to arrive in style.

Given Adney's large stash of American miles, I recommend they redeem those miles first. Plus, they'll be able to get a lot of value out of them before they potentially get devalued later this year. Chase and Amex have lots of transfer partners, so devaluations aren't as much of a threat for those currencies.

American Airlines partners with several airlines that fly to Dubai, including British Airways and Royal Jordanian. But for the most comfortable experience, they'll want to fly Qatar Airways. Although nonstop flights between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were suspended for over 3 1/2 years, they resumed at the beginning of 2021 as diplomatic relations improved.

Qatar offers one of the best business-class experiences — especially on Qsuite-equipped aircraft. Every Qsuite is extremely private, thanks to sliding doors. However, if Adney and his wife pick two center seats in an odd-numbered row, they'll be able to convert their seats into a “double bed.”

Qatar Airways Qsuites business-class cabin. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

American Airlines AAdvantage charges 40,000 miles each way in economy and a reasonable 70,0000 miles each way in business class. As such, Adney can book two one-way business-class tickets without even needing to tap into his wife's miles. Plus, taxes and fees are only around $20 per person, even in business class.

How to book this award with points

Booking Qatar Airways flights with AAdvantage miles is extremely straightforward and can be done online. Head to aa.com, enter your route (PHX-DXB), select your dates and check off the “Redeem miles” box.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

You'll then be able to filter your results by cabin class on the search results page. If there's no award availability on your preferred dates, American has a handy calendar search tool you can use. Alternatively, you can subscribe to ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) and set alerts to be notified when award space opens up. Luckily for Adney, there's plenty of award space in October. Keep in mind that even though some awards price out as business class, they may contain one or more segments in economy. If that's the case, there will be a message in orange that says, “The class of service you searched may not be available on one or more flights.”

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

After you've selected a flight, you’ll need to log in to your AAdvantage account to complete the booking. The taxes and fees on this ticket should come out to around $20 per person.

How to earn enough miles for this award

Adney has more than enough AAdvantage miles for this award to Dubai. However, if you’re looking to replicate this itinerary and need more miles, you can do so fairly easily by picking up a cobranded American Airlines credit card:

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Business Platinum Select, AAdvantage Aviator Red and the AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Airfare from Dubai

Route: DXB-YYZ-PHX

Miles needed: 156,000 Amex points + $25.54

For the return, I recommend they redeem their Amex points through Avianca LifeMiles. Avianca is a Star Alliance member, so they can book a one-stop return with Air Canada via Toronto (YYZ) or a multistop return with a connection in Europe and the U.S. with airlines like Lufthansa and United. All of these airlines offer fairly similar inflight experiences in business class, including lie-flat seats and multicourse meals.

Air Canada 777-300ER business class. (Photo by The Points Guy)

LifeMiles typically charges 42,500 miles each way in economy and 78,000 miles in business class on this route. However, what's nice about the program is that it allows you to select different cabins for each segment. So, if Adney's itinerary includes a short flight, they may be able to reduce their cost by flying coach on that leg.

How to book this award with points

While LifeMiles isn't known for offering the best customer service, it does let you book partner awards directly on its site. Once you've transferred the points you need to LifeMiles (more on that soon), head to LifeMiles' "Travel" page, add your route (DXB-PHX) and the number of travelers.

You'll then be prompted to sign in to your account and select your departure date from a calendar.

Related: Here’s why you need a healthy stash of Avianca LifeMiles

(Screenshot courtesy of LifeMiles)

Then, select your flights and cabins. As mentioned above, LifeMiles allows you to select different cabins for each segment (assuming there's availability), allowing you to potentially save some miles.

How to earn enough miles for this award

The quickest and easiest way to earn Avianca LifeMiles is by transferring points from a flexible points program. Luckily, Avianca also partners with all the major transferable points programs, except for Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means that you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio from Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One miles and Citi ThankYou points. Although Adney can't pool his Amex points with his wife, they can transfer the points into each other's LifeMiles accounts by being authorized users on each other's cards.

Related: Can you transfer Amex Membership Rewards points between family members?

While Adney and his wife have enough points to book their flights, you can top up your transferable points balances by applying for these top offers:

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Dubai hotels you can book with points

Dubai is home to a plethora of world-class hotels which can be booked with points. Since Adney doesn't have a preferred chain, his best option would be to book a World of Hyatt property using points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

You’ll find everything from modest Hyatt Place properties to Park Hyatts around the city, but here are some of the best options:

  • Andaz Dubai The Palm: 20,000 points per night.
  • Grand Hyatt Dubai: 15,000 points per night.
  • Hyatt Place Dubai Baniyas Square: 5,000 points per night.
  • Hyatt Regency Dubai: 8,000 points per night.
  • Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights: 12,000 points per night.
  • Park Hyatt Dubai: 20,000 points per night.
Andaz Dubai The Palm guest room. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

With 260,000 Ultimate Rewards points, Adney has enough points to book his nine-night stay at the five-star Park Hyatt or Andaz. Out of the two, the Andaz has a more desirable location, located right off the beach near Dubai’s famous Palm Islands with easy access to the Mall of the Emirates and other attractions. Just note that when Hyatt implements peak and off-peak pricing this year, the rates for these properties could drop to 17,000 points per night or go as high as 23,000 points. A safe bet would be to secure the current standard rates while still possible and then rebook down the line if Hyatt ends up reducing the number of points per night for your dates.

Related: How to get to (and stay in) Dubai using points and miles

How to book a Hyatt hotel with points

The process for booking a Hyatt hotel with points is just like paying cash. The only difference is that you have to check the "Use Points" box when searching.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

You can also switch between paid and points rates when selecting your room. For longer stays, you might want to take advantage of World of Hyatt's new Pay My Way feature. Unfortunately, unlike some other chains, Hyatt doesn't offer a free fifth night on award stays.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

How to earn World of Hyatt points

Since Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, Adney has enough points to cover the entire stay. However, if you're looking to replicate this itinerary and don't have that many Ultimate Rewards points, you can boost your Hyatt balance by picking up the World of Hyatt Credit Card, which offers up to 60,000 bonus points. You'll earn 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning two bonus points per $1 spent in the first six months from account opening on purchases that normally earn one bonus point (on up to $15,000 spent).

As an added benefit, you'll also get Hyatt Discoverist status and the ability to earn additional elite status credits via card spending.

Alternatively, signing up for another Ultimate Rewards-earning card from the Chase Quartet is a solid alternative.

Related: How to earn Hyatt points for free nights

Bottom line

As you can see, despite all of the glitz and glamour, Dubai is an extremely redemption-friendly destination. Thanks to points and miles, Adney and his wife will be able to fly there in business class and spend nine nights in five-star hotels for very little out of pocket. Their itinerary is also straightforward to replicate if you're hoping to go on a similar trip yourself. Just be sure to plan ahead since finding award availability to Dubai can sometimes be challenging.

If you have a destination in mind and need help figuring out your points strategy, send us an email to be featured in the next installment of Cleared for Takeoff.

Featured image by Shutterstock
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023