The Middle East is a rapidly developing region. Places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, Qatar are attempting to bring in more tourists in order to showcase their wealth and what each city has to offer the world. As a result, airlines are becoming more competitive and offering better services to draw in customers.
To get to the Middle East, there are several options. Emirates and Qatar Airways have really stepped up their game in the past few years and are now offering better deals on these long flights from the US or Western Europe and often include wonderful amenities that seem to be forgotten on most other airlines.
Emirates is an airline based out of Dubai and now offers flights all over the world. These flights aren’t cheap, but they often offer deals from the US to the Middle East. The best part about Emirates are the amenities. They service pretty delicious food, offer complimentary wine to their passengers (bonus! I bet you didn’t think you get that from a Middle Eastern airline!), and the seats are comfortable and have their own TV’s with a plethora of movie options. Emirates is also affiliated with Alaska Airlines, EasyJet, Jetblue, Virgin America and several other airlines, so you may even be able to rack up some miles on your flight!
My personal favorite luxury airline is Qatar Airways. They claim to be the world’s first 5 Star airline, and for good reason. Right now, Qatar Airways is in the process of opening new destinations, so they are offering very competitive prices from the US to Doha, Qatar. They also fly all over the world and frequently have specials on tickets to South East Asia and Europe. This airline is very similar to Emirates in its amenities. They also serve pretty delicious food and complementary wine, have comfortable seats with their own TV, and they also offer blankets and sleep masks to try to help you rest as well as Pj's and a bathroom bag with amenities. The service on these flights is unbeatable. As soon as you finish your free wine, the air hostess is there asking if you are ready for another drink or cup of tea.
The miles program is also very good. They are affiliated with American Airlines, US Airways, British Airways, Iberia, and several Asian Airlines. I’ve flown with Qatar Airways a few times and it is surprisingly easy to redeem your miles, which is an added bonus!
Once you get to the Middle East, your budget may be a little tight. If you plan on traveling around the region or moving from the Middle East to Central Asia, there are two great budget airlines to choose from.
Gulf Air is a company based in Bahrain. They fly from Western Europe to South East Asia. If you start looking early enough, you can find excellent deals. I was able to fly from Doha, Qatar to Colombo, Sri Lanka for around $250! I did have to stop in Bahrain, and the wonderful extras that Emirates and Qatar Airways offer were nowhere to be found, but the flights were comfortable enough and the price was right. You can usually find flights from Bahrain to Dubai for around $100, and they frequently have great deals to other destinations.
Another good budget airline is FlyDubai. They are based out of Dubai and offer rounds from the Middle East to Central Asia, Russia, and a few destinations in Eastern Europe. I flew FlyDubai to Kathmandu for just under $300. FlyDubai is very similar to Gulf Air, but they typically have better deals. Even better, they are starting to offer new locations so it will be easier to travel further on the cheap.
Many places in the Middle East are difficult to get to if you don’t fly. You are either surrounded by water or have to travel through Saudi Arabia or Yemen, which is extremely difficult as a solo female traveler. However, flying from Bahrain, Doha or Dubai is worth it to explore what the Middle East has to offer!
Let me know which one you prefer!!!