Dubai: Getting There
In exactly 30 days, I’ll be heading to Dubai for #DXB13, also known as the Dubai Air Show. Having never been to Dubai, I’m pretty excited to be visiting this ever-growing metropolis – but until I did some research, I didn’t know much about it.
Dubai one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates, and is home to approximately 2.1 million, nearly double what it was just in 2005, doubling again from 1995. As such, the city’s landscape has grown tremendously, becoming a city that is well-known for its tall skyscrapers, including the tallest man-made structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa.
But Dubai is more than just about skyscrapers — it has a history that goes back for centuries. I’m told the Dubai Museum in (one of the oldest buildings in the region) has some fantastic exhibits about the region, so it’s definitely going to be somewhere I’d like to visit.
As its population has grown, more and more airlines are providing service to this region. Emirates is the largest airline in Middle East, partially because it’s based in the city, but also wholly-owned by the government of Dubai. As such, there are nonstop flights to 159 cities, all on widebody aircraft — and has a reputation for being a stellar airline with phenomenal over-the-top service. On its A380 aircraft, there’s even an onboard shower for first-class customers.
From the United States, there are many options, including many with only one stop. Emirates, Delta, and United are the only carriers to offer nonstop service from to and from the U.S., however there are many options in addition to those carriers on all the major airline alliances.
In my case, I’m flying United through Washington Dulles. Although I’ll have to get to LAX to make this happen, I took advantage of a deal that I found on theflightdeal.com. At the time, flights on other carriers during the time of the air show were running around $1,200, and this deal was $820, so right off the bat I was saving roughly $400. In addition, I considered this a good deal because I’d be earning 9,300 miles each way, or 18,600 miles round-trip. With my United 1K status, I earn an additional 100% bonus on all flights, meaning I will earn 37,200 miles from the trip – or enough for a one-way saver flight in coach to Europe using miles.
If you want to use miles to get to Dubai, flights on United are anywhere from 40,000 miles to 75,000 each way in coach, or 60,000 to 150,000 in business class. $800 for a trip to Dubai (and a flight to Europe) for later is a good deal.
Alaska / Emirates
Alaska Airlines is also a partner with Emirates, meaning you can use miles that you’ve earned with Alaska (either by flying or by credit card deals and such) on Emirates as well. It takes 85,000/145,000/200,000 miles for round-trip flights on Emirates with Alaska in coach/business/first.
British Airways is also another way to get to Dubai, with points earned either through one of BA’s credit card deals or through American Express Membership Rewards. However, their fuel surcharges are, as usual, obnoxious. Unless you’re flying in Business class, you’ll end up paying 90,000 miles and $800 in fuel surcharges on a flight that might ordinarily cost $1000.
Business class might be 150,000 miles and $1,200, but a $1,200 business class ticket is always a good deal, whereas an $800 ticket that earns you 18,000 miles is money better spent than on an $800 award ticket where you have to spend 90,000 miles.
If you want to use American Airlines AAdvantage miles, their web site will generally try to put you on British Airways – again, with extremely high fuel surcharges. However, if you look down the list, sometimes you’ll see that Royal Jordanian flights are available, with a very reasonable $61 in taxes.
Since US does not fly to Dubai, booking it directly through its web site is not possible. However, US publishes their partner award chart which gives you a flat rate for locations based on general location. To fly from North America to the Middle East, it’ll cost you 80k/120k/180k, plus taxes and fees. In the end, you’ll likely fly United or Lufthansa (I’d probably take the latter) to Dubai until they merge with American, likely causing you to have to suffer from British Airways fuel surcharges. Call 800-428-4322 to book.
I know this trip is going to be a ton of fun – and there are still a whole lot of plans I haven’t yet made for this trip, including where I’m going to stay. But one way or another – I can’t wait.
Next in the Dubai series, we’ll have more about where to stay.
(Photo credit: Carpe Points reader Kinan Jarjous)