Visiting Petra: Here Are The Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East With Points & Miles

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Visiting Petra: The Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East With Points & Miles

Visiting Petra: The Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East With Points & Miles

If you’re looking to visit Petra, here are the best ways to fly to the Middle East with points & miles. Petra is world famous. It’s a UNESCO heritage site, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, and absolutely worth visiting at some point in your life. Located in Jordan, your best bet for visiting Jordan is flying in and out of Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) near Amman, Jordan. That’s nearly 3 hours away by driving, but it’s the most straightforward. If you’re looking to visit Petra, here are the best ways to fly to the Middle East with points and miles in economy and business class. We’ll also look at how to earn these miles, so you can redeem them on your chosen airline rewards program.

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Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East in Economy

If you’re looking for the best ways to fly to the Middle East in economy, the points and miles you need might change depending on where you live. For airlines that charge by distance, you can come out ahead if you live on the East Coast. If you live on the West Coast, airline loyalty programs that consider the whole Continental U.S. one zone will be better for you.

The best ways to fly to the Middle East using points & miles to visit Petra

Another important item to consider is how much you’ll pay in taxes and fees. The taxes are unavoidable and required by law. However, some airlines add on excessive “carrier-imposed fees” while others don’t. It’s worth remembering this review of avoiding those fees when considering how to book a ticket, so you can reduce the cost out of pocket. With that said, here are your best options for flights to the Middle East with points & miles.

British Airways Flying Club

At only 46,000 miles round-trip from the East Coast and 52,500 from the West Coast, using Avios for flights operated by British Airways is the lowest points option. It’s worth remembering that British Airways has peak and off-peak pricing structures. Traveling during busy periods will require more miles. For British Airways, peak time is roughly the Christmas/New Year holidays and summer times when kids are off school.

Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East
46,000 British Airways Avios + $667.68 in taxes in fees to fly economy round-trip to Amman, Jordan

British Airways also charges heavy fees and taxes for passing through London. The lowest points requirement is using their own British Airways flights, but those are the options with the highest taxes & fees. $667.68 is a lot of cash for a “free” flight in economy. The taxes are the same whether flying from the East Coast or West Coast. If you want to avoid British Airways flights to avoid London, expect to to need 62k miles from the East Coast and 70-75k from the West Coast.

British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

From the East Coast, you’ll need only 46,000 miles and $555.95 in taxes & fees. For West Coast flyers, you’ll need 54,000 miles and $589.45. While these figures are basically the same amount of miles & less cash than using British Airways Avios, the travel time makes this a worse choice. Virgin Atlantic requires extra stops, and those layovers are quite lengthy. You could see this as a chance to explore other cities on a layover, but if you just want to “get there” you might pass up this option.

Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East With Virgin Atlantic miles
46,000 Flying Club miles + $555.95 in taxes in fees to fly economy round-trip to Amman, Jordan

Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

The Miles & Smiles program from Turkish Airlines lists their award chart here. From the U.S. (which is on the “North America” zone, so Canada and Mexico are included), you’ll need 64,000 miles round-trip to the Middle East in economy. Remember that they will add some pretty serious fees and taxes, though. Also, finding saver award space isn’t the easiest on their long-haul flights out of the U.S. Book early or be very flexible.

Use Turkish Miles & Smiles to fly to the Middle East on Turkish Airlines.
64,000 miles + $298.95 for a round-trip ticket to Jordan on Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

All Nippon Airways ANA Mileage Club

ANA clearly lists their mileage requirements here. To go from North America to the Middle East, you’ll need 65,000 miles for a round-trip economy ticket. Vienna as a layover airport gave me the lowest taxes and fees, so play with dates and you can do better than my $620 in cash for the award booking. Cairo and Istanbul layovers had the highest fees. The good thing about using ANA is that you won’t need more miles if you’re coming from the West Coast.

Best miles to fly to Amman, Jordan
65,000 ANA miles + $620 in taxes in fees to fly economy round-trip to Amman, Jordan

ANA is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines makes its way onto this list for how easy it can be to get their miles, even though the number of points required is higher than others. You’ll need the same 80,000 AAdvantage miles wherever you’re starting in the continental U.S. Avoiding transiting through London allows you to drastically cut the taxes and fees on your flights. This is a difference of $300 or more, depending on dates and routes.

Using American Airlines AAdvantage to fly to the Middle East
80,000 AAdvantage miles + $106.55 in taxes in fees to fly economy round-trip to Amman, Jordan

American Airlines is a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send). American Airlines also has co-branded credit cards from Barclays and Citi to help you quickly earn their miles through welcome offers. The CitiBusiness AAdvantage card offers 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card has a welcome offer of 60,000 miles after you make your first purchase within 90 days and pay the $95 annual fee.

United MileagePlus

While United’s 85,000 MileagePlus miles for an economy round-trip ticket to the Middle East comes in at the higher end, I’ve included it for 2 reasons. First, we can add extra value with the excursionist perk. Second, the miles are pretty simple to come by through transferring from Chase and welcome offers from credit cards. You’ll need 85,000 miles and $111.95 for this ticket. Another reason people like United is that they won’t charge you extra carrier-imposed fees. $98.35 of the taxes/fees comes from the return flight.

Best miles to fly to the Middle East - using United MileagePlus
85,000 MileagePlus miles + $111.95 in taxes for a round-trip economy ticket LAX to AMM booking via United

United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1.1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send). The Marriott transfers give a 10% bonus compared to other airlines, due to the agreement with Chase. United Airlines also has co-branded credit cards from Chase, including some increased welcome offers. The new United Business Card has a welcome offer of up to 100,000 miles after spending $10,000 within 3 months. The United Explorer Card’s welcome offer is for 60,000 miles after $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.

Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East in Business Class

If you’re looking for more comfort or have extra miles padding your accounts, there are great options for flying to the Middle East in business class. Again, we’ll look at different options for West Coast vs. East Coast and differentials in taxes + fees charged by different airlines.

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

Again, the Miles & Smiles program from Turkish Airlines lists their award chart here. They have the lowest points requirement for business class between North America and the Middle East. You’ll need only 94,000 miles round-trip, so this is one of the best ways to fly to the Middle East. However, they will add carrier-imposed fees. Remember: finding saver award space isn’t the easiest on their long-haul flights out of the U.S. Book early or be very flexible.

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is a great option for business class.
Only 94,000 miles + $555.95 in cash for a round-trip business class ticket to the Middle East.

Turkish Airlines is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

ANA Mileage Club

Again, we can find the ANA mileage requirements here. To go from North America to the Middle East, you’ll need 104,000 miles for a round-trip business class ticket from anywhere in the continental U.S. Egypt levies a lot of fees and taxes as a transit airport. If you avoid Cairo, you can reduce the cash requirement by another $75.

Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East in business class - ANA
104,000 ANA miles + $758.12 in taxes in fees to fly business class round-trip to Amman, Jordan

ANA is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

Korean Air SKYPASS

Korean Air’s SKYPASS program is only a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy at present. This is because they stopped being a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards. While the numbers here can look great, they’re only great if you have a stash of Marriott points sitting around. You can transfer Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio to Korean Air. For each 60,000 Marriott points you send, you’ll get 20,000 + 5,000 bonus points in your SKYPASS account. SKYPASS also only allows round-trip bookings on partner flights. To get the 120,000 SKYPASS miles needed, you’ll have to transfer 300,000 Marriott points. That’s no small requirement. SKYPASS awards also aren’t reliably easy to book online, so you might need a phone call and even this booking request form.

Using Korean Air SKYPASS to fly to the Middle East

Korean Air is a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific

As a oneworld alliance partner, you can use Asia Miles for flights into Jordan on Royal Jordanian. There are direct flights to Amman from the U.S. out of JFK, Chicago O’Hare, and Detroit DTW. These go quickly, though. If you’re flying from the East Coast, you’ll pay 135,000 Asia Miles for a round-trip ticket in business class. It’s another 20,000 miles if starting on the West Coast. If you can avoid the U.K. by getting the direct flights to Jordan, taxes & fees will drop significantly.

Asia Miles is one of the Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East on points and miles
135,000 Asia Miles (155,00 from the West Coast) + $784.72 to fly business class round-trip to Amman, Jordan

Asia Miles is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send).

American Airlines AAdvantage

Another oneworld partner that is one of the best ways to fly to the Middle East with miles & points is American Airlines. The AAdvantage program requires only a few more miles than an East Coast trip with Asia Miles, but the requirements are even better if you’re on the West Coast. Regardless of where you live in the continental U.S., you’ll need only 140,000 miles. The taxes and fees are also MUCH better. 140,000 miles for a non-stop, round-trip ticket in business class from Chicago to Amman on Royal Jordanian. Cash requirement? $100.95 only.

American Airlines miles to fly to the Middle East in business class
140,000 AAdvantage miles + $100.95 for a round-trip business class ticket to Amman, Jordan

American Airlines is a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send). American Airlines also has co-branded credit cards from Barclays and Citi to help you quickly earn their miles through welcome offers. The CitiBusiness AAdvantage card offers 65,000 miles after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card has a welcome offer of 60,000 miles after you make your first purchase within 90 days and pay the $95 annual fee.

Alaska Mileage Plan

Using Alaska’s Mileage Plan for an award booking is another solid option for flights to the Middle East. You’ll need 140,000 miles for a round-trip award ticket in business class. You’ll pay $723 or more in taxes and fees, because all of their routing options are going through London. The fees are even higher if you take “business class only” tickets and don’t have any “mixed cabin” bookings starting with a domestic flight on Alaska in economy.

Using Alaska Mileage Plan to fly to the Middle East
140,000 Alaska miles + $723 for a round-trip ticket in business class

Alaska Airlines is a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio + 5,000 bonus miles for each 60,000 Marriott points you send). Alaska Airlines also has a personal and a business credit card from Bank of America. The Alaska Airlines Business Card and the personal card currently have the same welcome offer: 40,000 Alaska miles after spending $2,000 in 90 days. The annual fee on either card is $75.

How Do I Earn These Miles?

Now that we know what the best ways to fly to the Middle East, we need to get the required miles. A great way to earn the required miles is through credit card welcome offers. Depending on the points you are looking to earn, these are some great options.

These Offers May Have Ended Or Changed

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase has numerous credit cards that can earn their coveted Ultimate Rewards points. Here are some current offers.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points with a $95 annual fee after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The perfect starter card and it offers a ton of value the first year.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with a $450 annual fee after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months.  The best perks card in the Chase program and a great card for road warriors.
  • Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points with a $95 annual fee after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months.  The largest UR points offer Chase has.

These Offers May Have Ended Or Changed

American Express Membership Rewards

If you’re looking to earn Membership Rewards, these cards have excellent welcome offers. There are also targeted offers for the Platinum Card, including 100k or 125k points.

  • Business Platinum Card from American Express – Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within the first 3 months. Earn an additional 25,000 points after spending and additional $10,000 within the first three months. The card comes with a $595 annual fee and an array of travel and business perks.
  • American Express Gold Card – Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The card has a $250 annual fee. The Amex Gold earns 4x at US supermarkets and restaurants worldwide plus offers dining and airline credits.
  • American Express Green Card – Recently revamped, you can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months with a $150 annual fee. The card earns 3x on travel and dining.

These Offers May Have Ended Or Changed

Citi ThankYou Points

If you’re looking to earn Citi’s ThankYou Points, several cards have strong welcome offers. There’s also the DoubleCash card that has their best overall earning ratio for daily spend.

  • Citi Prestige – 50,000 ThankYou points with a $495 annual fee thereafter after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The card has a $250 annual travel credit, Priority Pass membership, and earns 5x ThankYou points on air travel and at restaurants.
  • Citi Premier – 60,000 ThankYou points with a $0 intro annual fee ($95 annual fee thereafter) after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. It is the best starter Citi ThankYou card in my opinion. Earns 3x points on travel and gas.
  • Citi Rewards+ – 15,000 ThankYou points with no annual fee after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months. Card earns 2x at grocery stores and gas stations. The most unique feature is the “round up” benefit to the nearest 10 points per transaction.
  • Citi Double Cash – No current welcome offer (supposedly a $100 statement credit offer is available in-branch). Card earns 2%/2x (cash back can convert to ThankYou points) on all purchases, 1% after purchase and 1% after the purchase is paid off. No annual fee.

These Offers May Have Ended Or Changed

Capital One Rewards

For those looking to earn Capital One Rewards, several cards have strong welcome offers. They also offer strong earning on daily spend to help you rack up the points you need for your trip.

  • Capital One Venture – 50,000 Venture Miles with a $0 intro annual fee ($95 annual fee thereafter) after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. Earns unlimited 2x points on everything.
  • Capital One Spark Miles For Business – 50,000 Spark Miles with a $0 intro annual fee ($95 annual fee thereafter) after spending $4,500 within the first 3 months. Earns 5x on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One, plus unlimited 2x points on everything.

A Note On Taxes

All award tickets will have taxes. That’s a guarantee. As I recently mentioned, using the best card for your purchase nets more miles. So does using shopping portals and cash back sites.

I would use an American Express Platinum Card as my first option. That would give me 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 when paying the taxes. The 2nd option would be Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Gold Card. Either of those will give me 3 points per $1 (Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards).

Best Miles to Fly to Petra in the Middle East

Final Thoughts On The Best Ways To Fly To The Middle East

Flying to the Middle East, whether you’re going to Petra or elsewhere, has great flight options. We looked at options for using miles & points to fly in economy and in business class. Options routing through London have much higher taxes & fees, so look for other routes where possible. We talked about the points needed & how to earn those points. We also talked about the best card to use when paying your fees & taxes on the flights, so you earn the best return from the card you use. The Middle East has tons of history and great sights to see. Enjoy your trip.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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4 COMMENTS

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I always forget how good the reward chart of ANA is. Don’t forget about our new favorite, the Turkish Miles&Smiles program. Only 94k for a roundtrip Business Class flight to the Middle East. They do pass on fuel surcharges though, so avoid the entire Lufthansa Group. The easiest would be a one-stop on Turkish itself through Istanbul and taxes and fees will likely be around $400-500 r/t. If you happen to go to Dubai, try catching the AC out of Toronto for 47k and less than $50 taxes one-way.

    • HChris – Ian is going to hate me for that one. I forgot about them completely. Their fees never make sense to me, but the points can’t be beat.

  2. Ryan. Thanks for the blog. I wish you had added what availability there would be for 2 tickets. It is one thing to say you need this many miles but a whale of another to find availability

    • John, valid point. However, it’s a bit beyond the scope of the article to tell availability for all of the airlines for all dates over the next year. Instead, the goal is to be a launching point for knowing the best options to start with.

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