If you’re itching to pack your bags and travel, the last thing that should keep you grounded is the cost of your flight. The gulf airlines -- namely Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways -- can offer an unparalleled flying experience at surprisingly low prices, taking off to some of the world’s premiere travel destinations.
Here, a look at all the reasons why flying the gulf airlines can be both an enjoyable and affordable way to get to your journey’s end.
The Economy Rates are Often More Affordable
From most airports in the United States, the economy class on the gulf airlines is frequently the most affordable options to Middle-Eastern and Asian destinations. For example, we found flights in May from New York City to Bali, Indonesia for $867 on Qatar Airways, round-trip, with one stop in Doha, Qatar.
From Los Angeles to Dubai, we found a non-stop, round-trip flight in May aboard Emirates for $974. For those looking to fly from Chicago to Bangkok, we found a round-trip flight in May provided by Etihad for $742 with one stop in Abu Dhabi.
Compared to most domestic airlines, the gulf airlines provide a better rate to nearly every Middle Eastern and South Asian destination.
There's Great Value in Economy Class
The gulf airlines offer affordable economy class rates, but affordability doesn’t often translate to comfort. However, the gulf airlines have stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to packing value in their economy cabin.
Those who choose to fly Emirates will enjoy in-flight WiFi, in-seat power, extensive free entertainment, and complimentary beverages on most flight. Qatar Airways offers around the same level of in-flight entertainment, as well as games and toys for those flying with small children -- and if the kids are happy on a lengthy international flight, chances are you will be too.
While none of these features lower the cost of your flight, having them baked into an affordable ticket price increases the value of your flight aboard one of the gulf airlines.
They Offer Free or Discounted Stopovers
Even if you’re in the most comfortable seat in the sky, having a few hours to stretch out your legs after a lengthy flight is one of the unsung joys of traveling. But getting to stretch your legs, get to know a new city, and having your hotel covered by the airline you’re flying? That’s almost too good to be true.
Many of the gulf airlines offer a discounted, or even complimentary stopover option in the city they’re based. For instance, if you book a flight through Qatar Airways, you can add a stop in Doha, Qatar through the airline’s “+Qatar” program and enjoy a stay at a hotel provided by the airline.
If you’re not in a rush to either get to or from your destination, a stopover can be a great way alleviate the airport layover blues and explore a new city while you’re at it.
Gulf Airlines Frequently Provide Special Offers
While the big three gulf airlines already offer excellent fares for economy travelers, customers can save even more money by keeping up with their frequently updated offers pages.
For those who are looking to fly Emirates, their offers page is chock-full of deals on direct flights, stopover deals, hotel exclusives, and sightseeing tours. Etihad’s deal page is currently stocked with flash sales to some head-spinning destinations. Qatar Airways’ offers page is in the same vein as Etihad, offering flight price breaks to some of their most popular locations.
If you have a destination in mind, be sure to regularly check the gulf airlines’ deal pages. They’re frequently adding new deals and destinations, and the vigilant shopper just may save even more money through an exclusive offer.
The Broad Rewards Programs
Sure, the gulf airlines offer great prices, features, and overall value. But how do they reward frequent flyers?
As it turns out, quite well. Etihad and Qatar Airways offer frequent flyer miles that are comparable to most domestic airlines and can be spent on those airlines in the future. However, Emirates’ “Skywards” program is far and away the most inclusive. Economy flyers can sign up for free before their first flight and start earning immediately. Best of all, the points can be spent at any of Emirates extensive partner list, including Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, and Virgin America.
The National Government Subsidized Airlines Equals More Savings
We’ve said over and over that these airlines are more affordable than domestic airlines to locations in the Middle-East and Asia, but we haven’t explained why. Simply put, each of the big three gulf airlines is subsidized by their respective national government, and something that has been a point of contention between United States-based air carriers and the gulf airlines. Detractors of these government subsidies argue that they unfairly undercut private airline companies and threaten the free market of air travel.
Regardless of the political implications, the result at the moment is astonishingly affordable prices to some of the most sought after destinations on Earth. While the boardroom heads sort out the particulars, we jet-setters can reap the benefits of more affordable travel aboard the gulf airlines.