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.
Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.
Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart.
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“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index
- Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions
- Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles
- Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All Partners
- Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need
- Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges
- Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards
- Part 7 — Redeeming for Hawaii
- Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia
- Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
- Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand
- Part 11 — Redeeming for South America
- Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe
- Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa
- Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia
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
- Qantas (London to Dubai)
- British Airways
Award space on American Airlines, 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 Chennai, India to Los Angeles.
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 to book. 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.
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.
Europe to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way in Business Class and 40,000 in First Class. There are some awesome products you can fly for those prices:
- Qantas First Class on an A380
- Etihad First Class on an A380 or 787 Dreamliner
- British Airways First Class on a 787-9 Dreamliner
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.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months, plus 10% rebate on miles redeemed up to 100,000 redeemed each calendar year
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months
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