Flying Economy To Dubai
This is a guest post from John Ryan, The Vegas Teenager, about his recent trip to Dubai over the holidays. It will cover his booking details, his experience flying economy to Dubai and overviews of the lounges they hit up along the way. He will have some hotel reviews upcoming as well from the trip.
We booked this flight for 75,000 Delta SkyMiles roundtrip, plus about ~$500 in taxes and award surcharges. There are certainly better deals that can be found through SkyMiles but also much worse deals out there. The exact ticket we booked would’ve cost about $2,000, due to it being right around the holidays.
That means we saved about $1,500 per person by using 75,000 SkyMiles. That’s a redemption value of 2 cents per mile. That’s a little above the Miles to Memories Delta SkyMiles valuations, which is 1.3 cents for economy.
So overall I think that is a solid redemption, and it wiped out my mother’s SkyMiles balance, which is good if Delta does devalue SkyMiles further. The original itinerary was from LAS to JFK to SVO (Moscow) to DXB (Dubai). However, this didn’t end up working out. You will see why it didn’t later.
We were about to spend about $200 each to get a rapid PCR test when I found out about a place in Vegas called Worksite Labs. It is located in a rather interesting, but also a very central, location: in the Orleans Parking Garage. The test was only $90 each, and we found a coupon code that dropped it down to $85 each. The people couldn’t be friendlier when we went and everything went smoothly. That was until I found out my test came back invalid.
I had to get retested. It came back negative, so it was overall not a big deal. Luckily I had enough time to do it again. And I would still recommend Worksite Labs if you need a PCR test in Vegas. A PCR test was required for Dubai, regardless of vaccination status, from within 72 hours of departure. At the time of writing, you also need to download the COVID 19 DXB Smart app and have valid health insurance.
Check-in was quite hectic, because it was December 18, the Sunday before Christmas. The lines were pretty long. For Delta flights, it doesn’t seem like you can check-in online. You have to check in at the airport, so I would definitely recommend showing up early. The agent was friendly. When he checked our tests, he originally thought that my mother’s test wouldn’t be sufficient for Moscow transit. After some convincing, we were sent on our way.
Security was a bit hectic and had very long lines. We certainly could’ve used CLEAR and TSA PreCheck, since my mom has both a Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Credit Card as well as a Platinum Card from American Express. My mom and I aren’t very comfortable using our biometrics for CLEAR, though. And the earliest appointment for Global Entry isn’t until March, so that is pretty much ruled out, as well. But we had plenty of time to catch our flight, so we weren’t in much of a rush. Overall, it was another bad TSA experience.
We had some time before our flight, so my mom and I took the train to Concourse D and went to the American Express Centurion Lounge. It is located near gate D4. It was very empty, so we were promptly invited in. The changes to the guest policy on January 1, 2023 are very unfortunate. I think my mom will likely be canceling her Amex Platinum card anyway, due to the increased annual fee. But the lounge had plenty of nice and different types of seating. We got a table and had breakfast.
I find the food at Centurion Lounges to be nice, but I think it is almost over the top. I like very simple foods, so I wish Amex would just have pancakes, instead of banana pancakes etc.
Luckily, though, they did have oatmeal, which was very good. I had that along with fruit and orange juice. There is a sample menu here for you to check out. Also, the WiFi was very fast at 260 megabytes per second.
Thanks to my mom’s Delta Platinum Card, we get Main 1 boarding group. 10 minutes after we left the Centurion Lounge, we boarded the plane. We were greeted by a friendly flight attendant, who handed both of us a Purell wipe. I find this to be something helpful that they started due to the pandemic. You never know how dirty your tray table is.
Surprisingly, this was a recently-retrofitted plane and featured very new Delta IFE screens. I was expecting a super old plane. The plane was in a 2-4-2 configuration. We had seats 23H and J. After push back, we had a delay. Surprisingly, we had to get de-iced. It was very cold in Vegas that morning, but this was the first time ever that I have flown out of LAS and our plane had to get de-iced.
About an hour into the flight, they had snack service. The flight attendants handed out both Biscoff cookies and Goldfish crackers. They also did this again at the end of the flight.
Also, if you are a T-Mobile customer and you fly either Delta or Alaska, you can get an hour of free Wi-Fi if your aircraft has Gogo Wi-Fi. After landing, we had probably the fastest taxi to the gate we have ever experienced. We parked at Gate C65. Overall, this is the experience I would expect from Delta, and it certainly wasn’t bad.
Flying Economy To Dubai – JFK Connection
We then headed to Terminal 1. We were greeted by a long line for Aeroflot check-in. When we checked in at LAS, it sounded like our bags would only be checked to Moscow, not all the way to Dubai. We got in line to ensure this was the case. We waited in the SkyPriority line, because it wasn’t a big question. The check-in agent asked to check our Covid tests, and then we were informed that we weren’t going to Moscow. You heard that right!
My test would be fine, since I got retested later, but my mom’s would not be since it wouldn’t meet the 72 hour cut off requirement. The big issue was that our bags were already loaded on the plane. I couldn’t have been happier to not connect through Moscow, because we would’ve been stuck with a 12 hour layover.
A rude supervisor said that our bags would be offloaded in about 30 minutes but to go talk to our ticket issuer, Delta, in Terminal 4. (By the way, we realized the long line wasn’t actually for Aeroflot but for COVID testing.)
Delta was able to find us a flight through Paris in the end. The rebooking agent couldn’t have been more kind and helpful. We then headed back to Terminal 1 to get our bags.
The supervisor informed us that it would be another 30 minutes until our bag would be offloaded. We were both pretty annoyed by this point but luckily there was a food court nearby that we could have lunch. After that, we waited for another 5 minutes for our bag, then we headed back to Delta at T4.
We went to the arrivals level to drop off our bag and skipped the huge line on the departures level for check-in, then we headed to security. This is going to be both the first and last trip I will ever make through JFK, because the security lines were absolutely ridiculous and the agents were among the rudest I have encountered.
Luckily, the Centurion Lounge is right next to the security checkpoint. There was again no wait, and the friendly attendant welcomed us in. I wanted to take a shower, but it was 7:30 pm, and the attendant told me that the showers were booked up. Instead, I ate some cookies and just hung out. The food was, again, a bit too sophisticated for me (for lack of a better term). There is also a speakeasy by the bar on the lower level.
We left the lounge when boarding was supposed to start, and there was another delay. Pro tip: If your flight says it’s delayed, check either the flight numbers before and after. For example, if your flight is DL1234, check DL1233 and DL1235. This is likely to be the flight coming to you with the plane you will ride in the other direction. I found that our plane hadn’t even arrived yet.
The lounge had already closed by this point, so we went to a gate nearby and hung out there.
Delta Flight to Paris CDG
After about 45 minutes, we started boarding. We were in seats 40H and J. The flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30 pm but didn’t actually leave until midnight. We were stuck on the ground in our seats for an hour.
This flight was a bit miserable for that reason. In the end, I asked Delta for some SkyMiles, and they gave us both 2,500, so I can’t complain too much.
This was a quick transatlantic flight, so they offered us cheese ravioli. My mom had it and said it wasn’t bad, but I was a bit too tired to have anything. I tried to sleep a little bit, but that was hard to do.
Also, economy on this flight was in a 2-4-2 configuration, which made the flight much better. We were offered what I think was a croissant for breakfast, and then we approached Paris. We landed at gate M31. I thought the crew was very friendly on this flight which made it an enjoyable experience overall.
Flying Economy To Dubai – Paris Connection
We took the people mover to the L gates. Paris CDG is not a bad airport if you are flying Air France and are just going from a non-EU flight to another non-EU flight.
We went to the YotelAir, and I was very underwhelmed. The bathrooms were very dirty, and the food system was…interesting. They swiped my mom’s Priority Pass card and then gave us 10 euros to spend in the lounge.
As you can see, there are very few options. We just charged our tablets and headed out to the K gates, where our flight would be. This is the only Priority Pass lounge in Terminal 2E, and neither of us have SkyTeam status that would provide access to the Air France Salon Lounges by the K, L, or M gates.
Air France Flight to Dubai
On our flight out of Paris there was…another delay! It took a while to board everyone, because it was a full flight. This plane was in the unfortunate 3-4-3 configuration, and it meant the seats were a lot tighter.
I declined the meal service, but it looked pretty good. It was an uneventful flight, and I have always been a fan of Air France overall. However, their IFE system is very underwhelming (and after flying with them a lot this past summer, we already knew about this), so keep this in mind.
We had a smooth approach in Dubai and only got in 5 minutes late, so the delay didn’t affect us. Customs in Dubai was a breeze, since we had visited Dubai this past June and were already registered for their smart gates. We just scanned our passports and were on our way.
Flying Economy To Dubai – Final Thoughts
Overall, flying economy to Dubai wasn’t completely miserable. The way our flights were broken up made the trip a lot easier to deal with, and I would certainly fly Air France again. However, as I will discuss in my next installment, I don’t think you will see me flying Aeroflot in the future. The trip also was easier, thanks to the lounge options we had along the way from the Amex Platinum Card. While my mom really isn’t up for the long journey back to the Middle East, I know I can certainly handle it and am looking forward to returning!
What are your thoughts on flying economy to Dubai? Is it too far of a hike for you do sitting up? Would prefer more layovers to break it up? Let me know in the comments.