Trips

How I’m flying United’s New Polaris Business Class to Israel and Qatar QSuites back via Jordan/Qatar

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courtesy of united.com

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A trip to the Holy Land has been at the top of my family’s bucket list for my entire life. Next year, barring any high risk security threats, we are going to take the trip.  We will be spending roughly two weeks traveling through Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. While there are many ways to connect from the States into Israel, direct options are quite limited.  I’ve gone back and forth as to the best way to route, and have landed on quite an exciting itinerary. We want to take the trip at a leisurely pace, incorporate days ahead of touring to adjust to the time zone, and fly in comfort.  I couldn’t be happier with how things have unfolded.

How I’ve thought about routing…

Many of Israel’s regional neighbors won’t fly into Israel directly, so this requires some creative routing if you can’t find direct availability.

Since Etihad opens up quite a bit of space a year in advance out of JFK to AUH I’ve often thought about putting my parents in Apartments, fly through Abu Dhabi, connect to Jordan, and adjust to the time zone at a Dead Sea resort. This is quite an arduous journey even in comfort. Same with QSuites or Emirates as it requires multiple connections and often a night’s stay en route.  There are lots of

The ideal would be to fly direct into Tel Aviv. This would be most attractive as we could connect domestically, then fly long haul in comfort, go to a hotel and recover for a few days. We’d then aim to end the trip in Jordan, with many options to route back.

Direct options from North America

  • Air Canada
    • Toronto
    • Montreal, seasonally
  • Delta
    • New York
  • El Al
    • Boston
    • New York
    • LA
    • Miami
    • San Francisco
      • Beginning May 2019
    • Toronto
  • United
    • NYC
    • San Francisco

We got very fortunate and locked down United’s premiere product, Polaris on their 777-300ER, direct from Newark.

I’ll write a follow up post with instructions, but since my Dad carries Marriott Platinum, which in turn gives United Silver, I wanted to book the tickets for my parents through his account. We consolidated their Ultimate Reward points into his account, transferred instantly to United, and booked online. The total for these tickets was 75k points + $10 per person.

For my ticket I transferred Citi, Chase, and Amex points into Singapore.  The Amex and Chase transfer took roughly 6 hours, while the Citi populated the next morning, less than 24 hours later. 69k points and $20. The only issue here was that I couldn’t book online. I phoned in, booked, and the phone fee was waived.

We will all sit bulkhead in Row 1 – Mom and Dad in 1 D/G while I’ll be in 1A. Bulkhead seats provide larger footwells which is why we chose these over other seats.a map of a plane with seats and numbers

For the return we will route from Amman back via Doha in QSuites.

The plan is to check out Petra, travel to Amman, spend a day or two there and then head out. Qatar has been quite generous in releasing space between the East Coast and Doha when booked in advance so this is where we strategized. Luckily, I found space available from Amman to Doha to Washington D.C. – BYAH! This will be done for roughly 70k AA + $100

a group of men in an airplane

In order to find the space you need to piece each segment together as they can’t be found on AA.com . I searched using British Airways, then phoned into American to book. They should waive the phone booking fee when doing this.

How did we accumulate the points?

The Outbound:

As I described above, my parents only used Ultimate Rewards. They consolidated their points, and then used my Dad’s account because of his elite status, and transferred instantly. They both keep separate accounts, accrue their own points, and each of them have Chase Sapphire Reserves and Freedoms.

For my ticket, I used Singapore Airlines. I like Singapore because they have low change fees, and also because it priced 6k points cheaper. I transferred miles from each of three flexible currencies: Amex, Citi, and Chase.

The Inbound:

I have a ton of American miles accumulated from being loyal to them for several years and also from putting spend on cards like the American Airlines Platinum Select credit card from Citi. My parents also keep this card and have accumulated AA miles via Barclay Aviator cards.

Got Tips?

If you have any tips for me/us before going, we’d love to hear them. Including tour companies, guides, sights, restaurants, etc. I have a list that I’m compiling, but seeing as though the trip is so far in the future, I’m constantly amending and updating.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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8 Comments

  • […] major renovation. The first time was back in 2019 when my family used NYC to position for a trip to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. I had a really lovely time at the Barclay, and normally I would opt to review a new hotel if […]

  • […] Finding Award space on United’s Polaris for 3 people […]

  • Liza February 1, 2021

    How far in advance did you book Polaris?

    • Miles February 1, 2021

      almost a year in advance I believe

  • DaninMCI June 19, 2018

    Having been to Israel recently the main issue in your plan will be the one way travel to Jordan. When we went we spent a couple days in Jerusalem touring the old city and other sites there. Then we rented a car from Hertz in Jerusalem and paid a bit extra to drop it in Tel Aviv for our last few days before flying home. We drove from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea resorts and saw Masada. Then up North to Galilee. We based ourselves in Hiafa for a few days and spent a few days in Tel Aviv. The country isn’t that big but this allowed us to maximize hotel point options at many IHG properties.
    I would make sure to go to the Israel museum and see the dead sea scrolls and art exhibits there. This is a good option if you hit a day where it rains as most of it is inside. Try to see both the Garden Tomb and the Holy Sepulchre sites. I would also try to see Caesarea if possible.
    The biggest challenge in Israel is how to handle Sabbath. It’s a joy to see the Sabbath calm the whole country down but if you are unprepared for food or the crowds that hit the hotels on Friday afternoon it can be a shock. Even most hotel lounges don’t serve much food. Public transportation is sparse as well in most areas.

  • GL June 19, 2018

    Just curious – What benefits does United Silver give your parents that they should book through UA instead of booking it the KrisFlyer route like you did? I don’t think close in booking fees are an issue for an itinerary next year, and it’s an award ticket anyways so you won’t be accruing redeemable miles or PQM/PQDs?

    • Miles June 19, 2018

      GL – in case we need to change/cancel – cheaper fees

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