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Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. American Airlines has the best award space to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent by far and some of its nicest partners fly these routes.

Etihad First Suite on 787
Etihad First Suite on 787. I have mine Booked for May.

 

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent are two regions on the American Airlines award chart, but have the same prices to fly to either.

The Middle East is defined as:

  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • the United Arab Emirates

The Indian Subcontinent is defined as:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

The Partners for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, it is a standard rule that you cannot transit a third region–awards between Region A and Region B cannot transit Region C unless specifically allowed.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Middle East or India from North America:

  • Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)
  • Qatar Airways (Doha)
  • Jet Airways (Mumbai)
  • Royal Jordanian (Anman)

Other American Airlines partners with hubs in the region:

  • Gulf Air (Bahrain)

There are three exceptions that apply to awards between the United States and the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent that do allow you to transit a third region, which opens up our routing possibilities:

1.  You can connect in the Middle East on the way to the Indian Subcontinent, utilizing the airlines mentioned above.

2. You can transit Europe en route to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent from North America.This means that any partner that flies between the United States and Europe or Europe and the Middle East is potentially useful:

  • American Airlines
  • Airberlin
  • Qantas (London to Dubai)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • British Airways

3. Recently, American added the exception that you can transit Hong Kong (on Cathay Pacific Airlines only) between North American and the Indian Subcontinent, which is great news for those who live on the West Coast since routing via Hong Kong is faster than routing via Europe or the Middle East. Not to mention it’s another routing option for everyone, i.e. more award space, and Cathay Pacific’s premium products are superb

Award space on American Airlines, airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Awards space on Iberia, Qatar, and Cathay Pacific is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Award space on Gulf Air is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Etihad is searchable on etihad.com. Here’s how to search etihad.com.

Award space on Jet Airways is searchable by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

Pricing

From North America to the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent, American Airlines charges:

  • 40,000 miles one way in economy
  • 70,000 miles one way in Business Class
  • 115,000 miles one way in First Class

Economy and Business are decent values. First Class prices are very expensive, although the product available is top shelf. Read my trip report of Etihad First Class from Chennai, India to Los Angeles.

If you can, use Alaska miles– it only costs 62,500 miles one way in Cathay Pacific Business and 70,000 miles in Cathay Pacific First Class to India or the Middle East.

American is not the leader to the Middle East and India because of its pricing as much as its partners. American partners with two of the big three Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad and Qatar. Add in the other Middle Eastern and Indian partners, and American really has a lock on the region.

Booking the Awards

To book 99% of Middle East and Indian Subcontinent awards, you need to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. You will not have to pay a phone fee since the award is not bookable online. I recommend searching award space on aa.com, ba.com, Expert Flyer, and etihad.com before calling and feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight with award space instead of relying on the agent’s searching skill.

Routes

There are too many routes to cover all of them, so I’ll restrict myself just to the direct Etihad and Qatar flights from the United States the Middle East.

Etihad flies from six American cities to Abu Dhabi and from there throughout the region including 11 cities in India and three in Pakistan.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 6.57.44 PM

Etihad flights feature First, Business, and economy class.

I find award space to be excellent on Etihad. This is my go-to airline when I am looking for award space for MileValue Award Booking Service clients to the Middle East and India. With flexibility, you can find two seats in any cabin.

Qatar flies from ten American cities to Doha and from there throughout the region including 13 Indian cities.

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Qatar’s flights to the United States do not feature First Class, just Business and economy.

In my experience, Qatar award space is not as strong as Etihad award space.

I realize I haven’t said much useful information about the award space to the Middle East, but it is difficult to sum up space on dozens of routes across several airlines and cabins. Better to just tell you which airlines to start with and where to search that award space.

Bottom Line

American Airlines has amazing partners to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, topped by Etihad and Qatar. Award prices to either from the United States are the same.

First Class Awards are pricy but economy and Business class are decent values. If the award doesn’t fly directly from North America, the only other routings allowed are:

  • connections in the Middle East en route to the Indian Subcontinent
  • connections in Hong Kong en route to the Indian Subcontinent
  • connections in Europe en route to either the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles. With just a little more spending on the card, you’d have enough to fly Business Class from the United States to India or the Middle East!

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