Business Class Fares Don’t Get Much Better Than This

One of the beautiful things about the airline industry — for those willing to put in the time — is how variable the pricing is.

Whether you’re booking a revenue ticket or award ticket, pricing can vary exponentially depending on when you book, where you originate, etc.

For example, I’ve written in the past about how airlines publish cheap premium fares out of Cairo, Egypt, and Colombo, Sri Lanka.

You can fly from Cairo to Seattle via Doha and Miami in both directions for under $2,000 roundtrip in business class:


That’s ~23,400 flown miles. If you credit to American AAdvantage you’d earn 1.5 EQPs per mile, which is a total of ~35,000 EQPs.


But great fares aren’t limited to those markets. For example, there are similar fares published out of Casablanca, Morocco, which are even more tempting.

You can fly from Casablanca to Seattle via Doha and Miami for ~$2,100 roundtrip in business class:


That’s ~28,000 flown miles. If you credit to American AAdvantage you’d earn 1.5 EQPs per mile, which is a total of ~42,000 EQPs.


That’s literally paying five cents per elite qualifying point, which you’d be lucky to get in economy on a domestic US mileage run, for example.

Of course I realize the big catch here is that you have to position yourself to Casablanca. On one hand that’s not as easy as a domestic mileage run, though on the other hand it’s only a short flight from Spain. And if you do one of these, it’s quite easy to do multiple of these since you’re already in Casablanca.

But to think that two of these trips would cost you ~$4,200 and get you almost all the way to Executive Platinum… well, that’s pretty tempting.

Qatar Airways 777 business class

I always say, if you’re just getting started with trying to earn status, you can’t beat a cheap paid business class ticket, so you don’t have to “suffer” through economy before you’re eligible for upgrades.

I’m certainly tempted to book a couple of these…


  1. Why is it that some cities such as Colombo, have such cheap premium cabin fares? Seems like this has been going on for years now?

  2. Yes except for where unlike domestic MRs that one can do on weekends here you’ll have to spend a week in order to fly 2 of these round trips. While I’m sure you can write a trip report about your flights and that would be “work” for you most people would have to use valuable vacation days which to me out weigh the benefits of MR associated perks

  3. While it’s not going to earn as many miles, CAI-DOH-IAH or CAI-DOH-DFW can be had for under $1800 round-trip on QR.

  4. @Ivan: so can CMB-DOH-USA.

    The interesting thing is I’m finding $1500 Y+ flights on CX for USA-HKG-BKK-CMB… so that’s your positioning flight to CMB (and 1.5 EQP, just like J).

    @Lucky: Also, any chance you can get away with a HKG/BKK stopover on that premium Y ticket on CX?

  5. I see those amazing deals, including JFK-LAX with AA sharklet (QR, CAI-JFK then JFK-LAX) but have issues with booking them on QR or OTAs. any suggestion with ability to replicate most itinearies? 12k bonus miles between LAX-JFK will be awesome!

  6. Great price but transcons in 737s, even if F are a pain. I flew a 777 LAX-MIA in coach and returned in a 738 in F and it was about equal amount of padding and attendent PITA

  7. You know what’s sad? Living in Cairo but travelling on a budget so can’t get those cheap premium fares. I did, however, grab a CAI-MUC-SFO-FRA-CAI for $895 which is a great deal.

  8. My husband and I are doing this and chose to visit Cairo last due to their airline pricing. One way BIZ from CAI-DOH-PHL-RDU for 700 per person.
    Also, signed up for the platinum challenge and will qualify for platium. Amazing deal!! All because of this blog!!

  9. Thank you, Ben! I’m more grateful for this, than any post you’ve ever written. Just one of these trips will be the top-off I need to get me to EP 😀

  10. Ben,

    Sometimes I think you’re just a little bit nuts. Seems to me the most practical utility for these kinds of things is a mileage ticket out and a paid fare back.

  11. Gem!!!!

    CAI-SEA RT (CAI-DOH-DFW-SEA-JFK-DOH-CAI) 21278 flown miles and 31917 EQP in FIRST (not business) for $3000

  12. @ Abdel — Which flights are in first? Qatar Airways doesn’t have a first class cabin on any of their US-bound flights.

  13. @ Sam — Just enter something like “cai:: qr doh qr qr” in the departure field and it will show you some options.

  14. @ beachfan — The fare can just as easily be routed with a JFK-LAX flight on there, if the 737 is an issue.

  15. @ Mike — Correct. To clarify, all these fares are bookable, though QR uses married segment logic sometimes, which aren’t reflected on ITA.

  16. @ Jonathan — There are definitely some markets in Asia that have better prices than others. CMB sometimes allows transpacific routings, then there’s TPE, CGK, etc.

  17. @ Jack — Airline pricing is incredibly complex, and about maximizing what people in various markets are willing to spend on tickets. Some markets just can’t sustain high airfares as much as others.

  18. If you qualify on miles instead of points, you can credit to US for 1.25x for the Qatar segments. I fly mostly discount economy during the year, so unless I was doing two of these, I would probably prefer EQM over EQP since they will be combined.

  19. Thanks for this post, gonna incorporate CMB and CAI in my future travel plans.

    Btw, works with Etihad as well.
    Tempted to book CMB-CAI-KUL via AUH for 700€. To BKK even for 600€. Even though 3/4 are regional, still good value I guess, when based in Southeast Asia.

  20. Blimey, those are some fantastic fares. I really should start putting more effort into my bookings

  21. Can you do a turnaround in Cairo on QR. Ie fly DOH – CAI QR1301 land 16.55pm and return on same
    aircraft CAI – DOH QR1302 Departs 18.40pm? Gives you almost 2hrs of transit & security.

  22. @AL,

    please don’t point out the obvious or else we’ll be subject to another sheep’s milk and olive juice article.

  23. Thanks Ben. And thanks for all you do. It is very helpful to many of us and, unfortunately, miserable people will always be miserable and feel like they need to post negative comments, so don’t pay any attention to that garbage.

  24. @Lucky – just can’t see how to credit it to my BAEC to earn Avios & TPs on that routing. Would be great if possible as it’s easy to get to CAI or CMN from here in southern UK.

  25. Lucky, any idea on the equivalent “cheap cities” in South East Asia? Bangkok perhaps?

    Being based in Singapore, KF is the most obvious FF program and yet it SQ fares originating out of SG are always really really expensive. I’ve seen in the past that SQ fares from JHB-SIN are about half the amount of the same SIN-JHB flight … but JHB is so far away …

  26. Hi Ben,
    Just wondering if you know if the fares ex CMN fares allow stopovers?
    Also looking at just CMN-MIA it lets you route CMN-DOH-LHR-MIA which I’d find appealing as it includes A380 on DOH-LHR leg. However this routing seems to allow travel only on AA on the LHR-MIA leg but that has the old style AA J hard product. Could this fare include LHR-MIA on BA metal instead?
    Thanks for any help.

  27. @ Jon B — No stopovers allowed, and transatlantic flight has to be on AA, as far as I know. That being said, you could fly to another US city which is served by a 777-300ER with the new business class.

  28. @ Dimples — Taipei and Bangkok do have some cheap fares, but not as cheap as Colombo or Cairo, for example.

  29. @Namakwa – I did an 80 minute turn, door open to door close. It was originally booked at 105 minutes, but taxi time in Cairo is long, and flights leaving Doha aren’t always on time.

  30. Are there any airline/city pairs that are good for getting United MileagePlus miles this way? Unfortunately, it seems as though you must spend money with United in order to get the membership upgrades.

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