Plan my trip: NYC-Abu Dhabi


Recent news that Royal Jordanian award inventory is now available on the American Airlines website has me excited because I like when more award options are easier to find online. It also has me intrigued as I’ve got a trip to Abu Dhabi planned for Thanksgiving weekend and, while I already have an award booked for the trip, I’m considering changing since the new search option made it quite easy to find the RJ flights which should work for my needs. That said, I’m stuck in a bit of decision paralysis and so I’m turning to you, my readers, to help me choose. The crux of the question is a simple one: Should I fly Royal Jordanian or Lufthansa to get to Abu Dhabi?

The Lufthansa routing is a United award flying EWR-IAD-FRA-AUH. It costs 60,000 UA points + ~$40 in taxes. Flights are on an ERJ, 748i (flat bed for the overnight sleep segment) and A340. This routing also has the advantage of arriving in Abu Dhabi at ~9:30pm, which I think is a good thing given that I have just one night in town before continuing on to Bangladesh on the flight which is actually the key segment of the trip.

The Royal Jordanian option would be an American Award costing 67,500 points + ~$10 in taxes. The flights are on an A340 and an A320, with the reasonably simple JFK-AMM-AUH routing. It leaves later at night and without a regional jet connection which is good for sleeping. But it also arrives in Abu Dhabi at 1:15am, some 4 hours after the Lufthansa routing arrives. There are also options which allow me a 10 hour or 18 hour (overnight) connection in Amman, but I’m shying away from those in favor of a proper visit to Jordan hopefully in the not too distant future.

One other factor at play is that I have 1K status on UA so future changes on that award would be free versus no status on AA so fees for those changes (though I’ll be Gold by the time the trip happens).

Indeed, this sort of decision is one of the silly ones, a choice which likely has no material impact on anything. But I’m torn on which way to go.

What would you do in my shoes??

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

18 Comments

    1. Indeed…this trip is much more about the Biman flight – a truly unique event – and getting to spend some time in Bangladesh. I’m mostly just trying to make sure I get to AUH to be able to do that bit. That’s part of why I’m having trouble making up my mind on what to do for this portion. :p

  1. I’m a big believer in using your time for your priority destinations, which it sounds like is Bangladesh, with a second priority of Abu Dhabi rather than Amman. I’d take the Lufthansa routing to get into AUH earlier, be well-rested for your quick stopover, and then arrive in Bangladesh ready to explore there rather than using your time in Amman. As you said, leave Jordan for a separate trip in the future.

  2. If your trip is a regular occurrence, I suggest go for the RJ option now to evaluate it for your future plans. Otherwise I think whichever seems to be more convenient should get your business.

  3. The 9:30pm arrival vs. the 1:15am arrival would seal the deal for the LH routing if it were me.

  4. I’d keep the LH routing and save the AA miles for a proper trip to Jordan. Fly RJ on that one. Then you’ll still get the new lines, airport, and airline, but also have the time to really see the wonderful things Jordan has to offer, like Petra, Jerash, and Wadi Rum. Amman doesn’t have a ton to see and do in it, but you could easily spend a day there exploring the city, and see everything you want to, on a proper Jordanian vacation.

  5. 748i would seal the deal for me. Great plane and hard product. Did it to Bangalore earlier this year.

  6. Fly LH now because it’s a well-known airline and you have elite status with UA. When things become less volatile in the region, visit Jordan, Isreal and Egypt in the future. But consider Emirates and Gulf Air because they are abetter known product. I will hesitate trying out other less known airlines in the region. I lived in a Gulf state in early 1990s–understand the culture, religion and way of life. I don’t quite understand the attraction and fascination of UAE, especifically Dubai, to western tourists. Personally, I’ll love to have the opportunity to visit Iraq, Iran and Syria in the next two decades when, hopefully, there will be less fanatic groups in government or society, These three countries are rich in history but have peculiar cultures. If you have not seen real Persian hand-made carpets, you don’t know the elite carpets in the world. Foods are tasty but a lot less healthy. Jewelry stores are abundant and breath-taking, that mostly sell gold jewelry, pearls and jade rather than diamond.

  7. Seth, Fly LH and save your AA miles for a trip to Jordan later. I am waiting to hear about your Biman trip:-)

  8. We’ll just miss each other. I’m planning on attending the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix from 11/1-4… Not many other reasons I’d want to go to Abu Dhabi, to be honest! 🙂

  9. I’d go w/ LH, especially after Lucky’s near death experience on RJ . . . Also, since you’re going to Jordan another time, no need to go there now. Plus, you can get a proper night’s rest in Abu Dhabi.

  10. Fly RJ, great opportunity to get on a 340-200, very rare birds nowadays!! RJ261/2 are always operated by 342s… http://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/rj262 19-23 years old, funky crown class. JY-AIC (msn 14) is the second oldest A340 currently flying: only a SA Bird, ZS-SLF (msn 11) is older. This is the right setting for your DC10 ‘experience’. And ofcourse you have to disprove Bens perception of the quality of RJ pilots. 😉

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