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.
What You’re Reading
This is the eighth post in one comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know about American Airlines miles. Now is the time to write this guide because now is a special time to earn American Airlines miles.
American Airlines and US Airways have merged legally, but they maintain separate frequent flyer programs. The two programs will combine some time between April and June 2015, and your balances in the two programs will be combined as American Airlines miles.
- The personal American Airlines credit card is offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
- The business American Airlines credit card is offering another 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
- The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate. The card offers 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase.
Getting the American Airlines personal card, American Airlines business card, and US Airways personal card now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by mid-2015.
This guide will explain the rules, quirks, tricks, and options for redeeming those 156,000 American Airlines miles all in one place. It might just put my Award Booking Service out of business when it comes to redeeming American Airlines miles.
If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the credit cards that earn them, please use my links. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.
“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index
- Part 1 — 10 Ways to Use American Airlines Miles
- Part 2 — Where to Search Award Space for All Partners
- Part 3 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need
- Part 4 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges
- Part 5 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards
- Part 6 — Redeeming for Hawaii
- Part 7 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia
- Part 8 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent is one very large region on the American Airlines award chart. It contains:
- Saudi Arabia
- the United Arab Emirates
The Partners for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards
As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent must fly directly from North America to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent or can transit Europe. They cannot transit East Asia even though trips from the West Coast to India might be as convenient or more convenient via Asia.
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)
Other American Airlines partners with hubs in the region:
- Gulf Air (Bahrain)
- Royal Jordanian (Amman)
Plus any partner that flies between the United States and Europe or Europe and the Middle East can be potentially useful, so don’t forget about:
- American Airlines
- US Airways
- Qantas (London to Dubai)
- British Airways
Award space on American Airlines, US Airways, airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, and Qantas is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.
Awards space on Iberia, Royal Jordanian, and Qatar 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.
From North America to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, American Airlines charges:
- 45,000 miles one way in economy
- 67,500 miles one way in Business Class
- 90,000 miles one way in First Class
Compared to competitors, American charges fair prices. Compared to the rest of American’s outstandingly cheap award chart, these prices are unfortunately more expensive than I’d like. Ultimately though I have paid 90,000 miles for one way in Etihad First Class from Egypt to Washington DC.
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, and the third, Emirates, only partners with Alaska Airlines among American airlines. 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 to book. You will have to pay a $35 phone fee per passenger. 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.
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 five in Pakistan.
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 seven American cities to Doha and from there throughout the region including 12 Indian cities.
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 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.
American Airlines has amazing partners to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, topped by Etihad and Qatar.
Awards are pricier than most places on the American Airlines award chart at 45,000/67,500/90,000 miles one way in economy/Business/First. Awards must fly directly from North America to the region or connect in Europe. They cannot go via East Asia.