Dubai: Getting There

Today, I’m heading to Dubai for the tail end of #DXB13 – 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.

Getting There

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.

In addition, Emirates just placed an order for 50 additional Airbus A380s at the Dubai Air Show, further showing that Emirates is becoming a major force both in the Middle East, but also in the world.

From the United States, there are many options, including many with only one stop. Emirates, United, and Delta 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.

Etihad Airlines flies direct from several places in the US to Abu Dhabi, where the company is located – about an hour and a half from Dubai by car, or two hours by bus.


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 At the time, flights on other carriers during the time of the airshow 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.

Example West Coast to Dubai (Coach – United)
Cash cost of flight $817
Cost in miles to purchase ticket 70,000
My value of United miles 0.03
Surcharges/taxes $5
Miles earned by flying 37200
Class of service Coach

Cost in miles of surcharges 166.67
CPM spent to buy ticket with points $0.01 Buy with money
CPM earned if purchased $0.02 Buy with money
CPM dollar value, inc. fees $2,105

In addition, getting to LAX from San Diego can be a challenge, especially for an 8:45am flight. Rather than driving there, I used one of the best parts about British Airways Avios – the sweet spot: 9,000 points and $5 for a round-trip flight to LAX, normally around $200 when booked individually.

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, and if you’re someone who’s looking to boost their number of preferred qualifying miles, it’s a cheap way (relatively speaking) to do it.


Lufthansa doesn’t fly direct to Dubai from the U.S., but you can do it with one stop in Frankfurt from LAX or any number of other U.S. locations. Additionally, Lufthansa’s business class and first class products are phenomenal, especially onboard their newer Boeing 747-8i.

British Airways

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.


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. Unfortunately, Emirates’ surcharges are rather high, much like British Airways. But if you’re booking a business class or first class ticket, even $1000 in surcharges and taxes is a lot less than booking something in a similar class in cash.

American Airlines / Royal Jordanian

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. You’ll end up flying through Ammon, Jordan any which way you pick it, but it’s another option. 90,000 coach/135,000 business/180,000 first.


Delta flies nonstop to Dubai from Atlanta, so there’s another one-stop opportunity to the Middle East from the U.S. east coast. Delta’s premium cabins have really grown up over the past few years, and I recommend them. The downside: Delta’s devalued their points twice in recent times, making it very expensive to fly with points using Delta. I just sampled a San Diego-Dubai trip on Delta, and it came to 105,000 SkyMiles and $95 for a coach flight, or 230,000 and $48 in First (but 175,000 and $69 in First on KLM?). Delta’s rewards pricing is a bit strange.

Other Options

No doubt there are a million other ways to get there – there’s a ton of options, including going “the long way” via Asia instead of via Europe or through the Middle East. If you want to explore some of those, reach out and we’ll look at your options.

I know this trip is going to be a ton of fun! I’ve got a loose itinerary for the trip, but I can’t wait to go explore another place and country that I’ve never been.