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There’s nothing quite like the Middle East, whether you’re interested in visiting for its vast history and culture, delicious food, a chance to interact with the locals or to embark on an epic religious pilgrimage. It’s a part of the world that’s full of impressive modern cities, historic sites and incredible natural landscapes. And while the inevitable sensory overload may be a bit overwhelming at times, following these tips will help you have a more manageable, memorable adventure.
We recently asked our TPG Lounge members to share their best tips and tricks for visiting the Middle East on points and miles. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).
Saving With Star Alliance
When it comes to Star Alliance airlines, our TPG Lounge members are travel pros, using Aeroplan to score extra stopovers or finding sweet spots for award flights to the Middle East on Turkish Airlines, Aegean Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, among others.
“Aeroplan gives you two free stopovers if you want to hit three destinations for the same price.” — Andrew D.
“From the United States to Israel, it’s 45,000 miles for business class or 30,000 miles for economy class with Aegean miles.” — Chaim G.
“Turkish Airlines for 45,000 miles in business class.” — Michael B.
“We did an awesome two-person redemption via 320,000 American Express Membership Rewards points on Virgin Atlantic from San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR) to Dubai (DXB) in upper class the entire way. We also had access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at LHR on both layovers.” — Wade W.
“Turkish Airlines via KrisFlyer miles is a good option, as is Qatar Airways via British Airways Avios or American Airlines AAdvantage miles. As a Europe-based traveller, I’d put up with Turkish Airlines’ surcharges since they do have a better business-class product than that of all of the European business-class options, plus they fly to more obscure destinations with just one stop.” — Matthew T.
“138,000 KrisFlyer miles round-trip for business class, though it may have gone up slightly with the devaluation. The rate is not as good as it is with American Airlines, but you’ll get up to three stopovers for $200. I booked [a flight from] Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (JED) to Houston (IAH) round-trip with stopovers in Delhi (DEL) and Singapore (SIN) on the way there and Manchester (MAN) on the way back.” — Christopher B.
Onboard With Oneworld
From flying Royal Air Maroc to Jordan to having an unforgettable ride in Qatar Airways’ magnificent QSuite, here are some of the ways our TPG Lounge readers have traveled to the Middle East aboard Oneworld carriers.
“70,000 miles from Los Angeles (LAX) to Doha (DOH) in a Qatar Airways QSuite.” — Steve T.
“Royal Air Maroc from New York (JFK) to Casablanca (CMN) to Amman, Jordan (AMM).” — Patrick M.
“Can’t beat Los Angeles (LAX) to Tehran (IKA) for 70,000 miles in Qatar business class. Also [have flown from] Reno (RNO) to Mashhad, Iran (MHD) on Turkish Airlines with 42,500 United miles.” — Amir R.S.T.
“What I’ve done many times to Israel is book economy on American Airlines to Milan (MXP) for 30,000 miles, then fly Easyjet for usually under 100 euros to Tel Aviv (TLV).” — Brian B.
“100,000 American Airlines miles for Etihad Apartments to and from Sydney (SYD) and Abu Dhabi (AUH). I also did Los Angeles (LAX) to Dubai (DXB) in first class on the same trip for 155,000 Emirates miles transferred from American Express. Both were insane deals.” — Matthew C.
SkyTeam and Other Airline Combinations
Whether they’re cashing in Alaska miles for a first-class Emirates flight or scoring a great one-way fare in business class — or economy (gasp!) — on a SkyTeam partner airline, our TPG Lounge members definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to saving big on flights to the Middle East.
“I know 99% of TPG people fly in business, but I just grabbed Dubai (DXB) to Atlanta (ATL) one-way this morning on Delta for 42,500 miles.” — Gail L.G.
“55,000 miles for A380 business class on Air France from Los Angeles to Paris to Tel Aviv.” — Pranav M.
“Israel via British Airways using Alaska miles!” — Scott A.B.
“150,000 Alaska miles for first class on Emirates.” — Dominic F.
Readers Helping Readers
We love it when our TPG Lounge members get so involved in a topic they end up sharing tips and tricks based on their own experience — especially when they use that knowledge to reassure other travelers that they’re making the right redemption choices. That’s what happened when TPG Lounge reader DeVere K. shared his upcoming flight plans.
“For 42,500 miles one-way, I just booked Washington, DC to Tel Aviv on United/Lufthansa, with a return trip via Ethiopian Airlines’ business class for 85,000 miles, all using United MileagePlus miles.” — DeVere K.
“First, that’s a great deal! Second, do yourself a favor and try to change the United business-class award to Austrian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines or TAP Air Portugal, in that order. That Ethiopian flight is a nightmare in my experience, and maybe the worst angle flat (not lie-flat) seats I’ve ever flown (post-2000). The food was gross and service was huh?” — Julian R.
“Oy! I originally did snag the TAP Air Portugal route from Washington, DC to Lisbon to Tel Aviv but then had to change it due to an event I’m attending. With Ethiopian Airlines, I’m taking a long layover in Addis Ababa, so [I’ll have] a chance to see the city and tick off another country!” — DeVere K.
“In that case, have fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still way better than any economy or premium economy on any airline, and hardly a reason to complain.” — Julian R.
Featured photo by Danor_a / Getty Images.
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