Back on Christmas Day 2014 I booked a flight to Abu Dhabi during what I’d consider the best flight connection ever.
Kim, Lucas and I recently got back from our trip to the Middle East Gulf States and I wanted to share the details about how we planned the trip along with the costs involved including miles, points and cash (well credit cards…).
I booked our flight to Abu Dhabi from New York’s JFK for a little over two weeks including travel time. I knew that we wouldn’t be spending the majority of our time in Abu Dhabi or even the UAE so the first step was coming up with a solid itinerary.
I went over a map of the region as well as checked flight availability using British Airways Avios and came up with an itinerary which would have us visit four countries (3 new ones for me).
- United Arab Emirates (we visited 5/7 of the Emirates)
We started out in Abu Dhabi having less than two full days there. We then flew to Bahrain and spent one full day seeing some of the country. We also had one full day in Qatar and would’ve liked another… Next up was the Sultanate of Oman where we checked out a variety of sights during a 5 day visit. Our last stop was to Dubai for 3.5 days. We used one of those days to drive around, visiting three other Emirates.
Our flights from home were booked on Etihad during the big fare sale (mistake?) on Christmas Day. We originally had a connecting flight but it was switched to a direct flight operated by Etihad on a Jet Airways plane.
- New York (JFK)- Abu Dhabi (AUH)
- Abu Dhabi (AUH)- New York (JFK)
Cost: $232.53 per ticket for a total of $697.60
Flights Within the Region: All booked with BA Avios (prices shown are for 3 passengers)
- Abu Dhabi to Bahrain on Qatar Airways: Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Doha (DOH), Doha (DOH) to Bahrain (BAH)
- Bahrain to Qatar on Qatar Airways: Bahrain (BAH) to Doha (DOH)
Cost: 40,500 Avios + $194.76
- Qatar to Oman on Qatar Airways: Doha (DOH) to Muscat (MCT)
- Oman to Abu Dhabi on British Airways: Muscat (MCT) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Cost: 27,000 Avios + $252.03
Total Spent on Flights: 67,500 Avios + $1,144.39 (22,500 Avios + $381.46 per person)
While over $1,100 isn’t chump change, these prices are for three tickets so I think we did pretty well overall!
We booked many of our rooms prior to the Club Carlson devaluation. This allowed us to book stays of 2 nights for the price of 1. This came in extremely handy when we had a late flight but wanted a room to leave our things in, shower and possibly relax before moving on. We essentially overlapped hotel stays a bunch of times during the trip and it was a big help.
- Nights 1 & 2- Abu Dhabi: Park Inn Abu Dhabi Yas Island- 28,000 points (If paying the room would’ve cost $86.28 per night coming to a total of $200.18.)
- Nights 2 & 3- Manama, Bahrain: The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel- 50,000 points (If paying, $133.84, with tax $323.23)
- Nights 3 & 4- Doha, Qatar: Radisson Blu Doha- 44,00 points (If paying, $104.82, $323.23)
- Nights 5 & 6-Muscat, Oman: Intercontinental Muscat- Booked using two Anniversary Free Night certificates. (If paying, $227.86 for a total of $455.72.)
- Night 7- Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve: Paid $166 + tax = $194.78. Booked through TopCashBack and got 7% cash back ($13.64) Total cost= $181.14.
- Nights 8 & 9- Muscat, Oman: Radisson Blu Muscat- 44,000 points (If paying, $233.08 , with tax $545.42)
- Night 10- Abu Dhabi: Novotel Abu Dhabi Gate- Cost $85.27, used a hotels.com free night credit of $75.56 towards the price of $73.51. My Cost: $11.76 (tax)
- Nights 11, 12 & 13- Dubai: Intercontinental Dubai Marina- $159 per night, $573.39 total. Paid with my $500 Expedia Voucher which I won in a Twitter chat. Voucher covered $477.81. Cost= $95.58 for taxes.
- Night 14- Abu Dhabi: Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Airport- $65.61 + tax= $76.43 total.
Total Cost for 14+ nights accommodations: $364.91, 166,000 Club Carlson Gold points, two IHG Anniversary Free Nights, Hotels.com Free Night credit.
We rented a car two times during the trip with Europcar since they seemed to have the cheapest prices I could find. Our cars were both booked during our trip around a day before being picking up.
- Oman- 5 day rental= $200.35
- Dubai- 1 day rental= $32.73
Total cost for our rental cars: $233.08
Total Trip Planning Budget:
- Flights: 67,500 Avios + $1,144.39
- Accommodations: $364.91, 166,000 Club Carlson points, two IHG Anniversary Free Nights, Hotels.com Free Night credit
- Car Rental: $233.08
Total Costs= 233,500 points + $1,742.38 + 2 IHG Anniversary Free Nights
Being that this is the cost for 3 people, I think we did a solid job keeping the costs down in what are pricey places to visit. When breaking down the #s, we spent an average of 77,833 points per person + $580.79 per person.
Now the fun part begins. While I’m way behind on trip reports, I plan to write about a bunch of our experiences from our Middle East Gulf Trip. Stay tuned…
How do we travel so cheaply? (You can too!)
The way we were able to keep the costs down was by taking advantage of airline and hotel miles/points, mostly earned through credit card bonuses.
Check out some credit card offers here.
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