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In my second installment of a series on reward charts, I am going to look at rewards between Europe and the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. Many programmes group the two regions together; others split them into two. The term “Middle East” often means different things to different people but in general I am using Dubai as my generic Middle East destination. Fans of luxury holidays are also aware that the Maldives is generally slipped into an “Indian Subcontinent” award region.
If you haven’t already, check out my post on reward charts between Europe and North America.
As before, I am aiming to cover programmes that are:
- Popular with British residents / travel hackers
- Available as an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner (UK cardholders)
- Particularly attractive reward charts
- Sells miles cheaply
- Available as a Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott Rewards transfer partner
Here is the chart I have prepared. As before, I highlight in yellow what I find to be particularly attractive.
As always, you need to be aware of the fuel surcharges, one-way restrictions and connecting flight/stopover issues I highlight in my first post. I have noticed previously that surcharges are much lower for rewards leaving Doha, Qatar.
But in this post I am going to become a cheerleader for a handful of programmes.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
43,000 miles for a return in Business Class is an amazing bargain. Yes, you must connect in Istanbul, but that is clearly “en route” to the region and Istanbul airport also has one of the world’s best Business Class lounges. Turkish Airlines also offer a much better Business Class hard and soft product on European routes than the competition. However, there are surcharges to take into account (although lower than the BA and VS equivalents) and I don’t recommend trying to use Turkish Airlines miles on Star Alliance partners, since those cannot be booked online.
ANA Mileage Club
You might not immediately think that ANA is a better choice than Star Alliance partners Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines) and Miles & Smiles (Turkish Airlines); you might logically assume that these would offer the same partner options. However, ANA Mileage Club includes Etihad as one of its earning and spending partners. 68,000 miles for a no-surcharge return reward in Etihad Business Class to Abu Dhabi (or elsewhere in the region)? YES PLEASE!!
Unfortunately you cannot mix Star Alliance with Etihad on the same reward – although I believe you can mix cabins – so you are at the mercy of Etihad reward availability for both legs of your trip (since ANA rewards MUST be returns).
American Airlines AAdvantage
Many people find AA miles to be easier to acquire than ANA miles. But again, the attraction here is the no-surcharge rewards available on Etihad and Qatar Airways. You CAN book one-ways using AA miles, which means if you book one-way awards back home from the Middle East, you will hardly pay any taxes as well as no surcharges.
In my experience, if you can find a “Guest Business” or “Guest First” on the Etihad website, then AAdvantage can book it. I cannot confirm the same for ANA Mileage Club, but I hope that the same advice would apply.
Rewards between Europe and North America are amongst the most popular options for both North Americans and Europeans. Accordingly, there is less variability in the number of miles charged for reward flights. Moving away from the hyper-competitive, we start seeing gems and sweet spots appear. Hopefully you will never waste your Avios or Virgin miles (and money) flying to Dubai ever again… And if you collect Etihad Guest miles, please stop! (it only gets worse…)