$1,500 Business Class Fares From Asia To The US

Airline pricing can be whacky, especially when you look at the different fares published out of different markets. There are some markets in the world which consistently have surprisingly low airfare, especially in first & business class. Colombo, Sri Lankan, and Cairo, Egypt, are two which immediately come to mind.

In many cases business & first class fares out of these markets are cheaper than economy fares out of most other markets.

Perhaps the airline best about publishing discounted business class fares out of these markets is Qatar Airways. The good news is that they’re part of oneworld, so you can credit the miles earned on those flights to American AAdvantage, or any of a number of other airlines.


Just to give an example, here’s a pretty standard roundtrip Colombo to New York business class fare, which routes through Doha in both directions:


The fare right now is perhaps slightly lower than usual, as ~$1,555 is a fantastic fare. But the fare is almost always below $2,000 roundtrip, and often even a bit less than the current price.

For reference, that’s about 18,000 “butt in seat” miles roundtrip, and if you credit to American you earn 1.5 EQMs per flown mile, for a total of ~27,000 elite qualifying miles.


The other great news is that while American’s program is going revenue based in the second half of the year, that only applies for tickets issued through American. So while a ~$1,500 fare would earn you ~16,500 redeemable miles as an Executive Platinum member under the new revenue based system, partner miles are still earned based on distance flown.

As of now, Qatar Airways flights booked in the “I” fare class earn 150% elite qualifying miles and 125% redeemable miles. As an Executive Platinum member I earn a further 100% mileage bonus, for a total of ~40,000 redeemable miles for the roundtrip.


But that’s not even what makes me most excited about this fare, which has been around for a long time. What makes me most excited is that Qatar Airways finally flies the A350 to the US, which features their fantastic reverse herringbone business class product with wifi.



Previously Qatar Airways just flew 777s to the US, which don’t have wifi and also don’t have direct aisle access from every seat. So I’m quite excited about the fact that Qatar now has their best business class product on select flights to the US, which is only the case as of this year.

For me, the opportunity cost of flying goes down greatly when I have wifi, which makes this type of fare much more appealing.

Bottom line

Admittedly these ex-Colombo fares aren’t for everyone, but if you position yourself properly, they can be a great value and a lot of fun. These tickets can quite easily be changed with minimal fees, so if you go to Asia with any frequency, you can always book a roundtrip and then adjust the return date as needed.

Assuming you credit your miles to American AAdvantage, the value proposition of these fares also improves in the second half of the year, as Qatar Airways tickets will still accrue miles based on distance flown rather than revenue spent. While there’s a chance they’ll change the earnings rates for Qatar Airways at that point, I doubt they’ll be cutting premium cabin mileage earnings rates.

Have you taken advantage of one of Qatar Airways’ great discounted business class fares?


  1. Lucky, thanks for the post. Just one request would be to reduce the ambiguity on Asia. I see your point that this fare could be good to get to other parts of Asia, but specifying CMB or saying south asia might be a bit clearer.

  2. Thanks for the heads up!

    Do you have any advice on good positioning flights to or from Colombo? Obviously it’d be really easy to travel to/from India, but beyond that, are there any good flights using either miles or cash that you’d recommend?

  3. We are taking the CMB-DOH-PHL-RDU. Cruising out of Singapore so it made sense for us to fly out of CMB. We grabbed tickets for sub 1500. Amazing thanks to Ben! We also did the Cairo flights last year!

  4. What’s the point of earning EXP if you aren’t going to keep it next year when they go rev based, “Lucky?”

  5. @Lucky, CPT-DOH-BOS via Qatar in business? Or redeem 90k miles for the Apartment from AUH-JFK? I think based on your reviews the Apartment on Ethiad is worth a try.

    Also, would you reccomend Qatar Business on the 787 from CPT-DOH? Or Emirates First Class on the 777 to Dubai?

  6. This may be perfect for me if they offer these rates to Atlanta as well. BOM-CMB-DOH-ATL in A350 business class while earning extra miles and status on AA. Awesome! 🙂

  7. The executive bonus of 100% would only be added when booking this fare through American, right? Which usually would not be at the same price than booking with Qatar. Or am I missing something? To my best knowledge the executive bonus is only given when booking through your own program, so here AA.

  8. Qatar has some pretty amazing deals at the moment. I just booked myself on Oslo to Bangkok in Qatar business class for under a 1000 euros roundtrip!

  9. AFAIK, the minimal change is close to $150-$200 on I fare (from QR website) on ex-CMB fare.
    Not that minimal.

  10. Have you visited Sri Lanka? Gone and traveled inside the county and seen places? Which was your favorite place? What was your favorite food?

  11. Twice a year I do CMN-USA-CMN , can rack up an impressive amount of miles plus elite miles. Most of the time doing an open Jaw, (cmn-bos then going back miami-cmn) does not add much to the fare. For me a $1700 fare to do the above in Bz is wonderful indeed. Easy to position yourself to CMN if you are in Europe. For those living in the North America there are direct flights to CMN from JFK IAD YUL on RAM.

  12. Gosh. Facebook just reminded me it’s already a year since the QR inaugural A350 flight. Glad to see it on this route 🙂

    Another sweet spot ex-CMB is FCO for only US$900 RT. Leaving aside FF affiliations I actually prefer Etihad over Qatar for their JFK and SFO flights US$1600 and US$2200 respectively and to my mind a better product. You can credit EH to Asiana.

  13. Lucky, has AA confirmed that the earning on Oneworld airlines for elites (including the 100% bonus miles for PLT and EXP) is not changing in 2016? I thought that remained an open question.

  14. Anything good CMB-LAX?! What shout F fares?

    I’m in Sri Lanka now!

    But probably would be for future reference, as I’m holding 2 C X F through HKG)

  15. QR always has very competitive flights out of asia (bkk, cmb) so this is not new news, QR recently had a massive sale of 40% off tickets and was cheaper based on the # of passengers ticketed. Sale ended today but was able to,book bkk to any of their destinations in the u.s for less than 1500 but min stay of 7 days for biz class. If you are a memqber of qmiles then they give you 3X the mileage. There is no F from doha to the u.s as only F is avail on their a380 which doesn’t fly there yet.

  16. Lucky,
    I’m based in Sydney Australia, So it’s probably not the same as you guys in the US.
    You are correct about Qantas and getting reward seating, very hard to get these days.
    I have tried to book a couple of flights on Qatar Air and they come in at A$4K plus for any flight.
    I even tried to book from the states (used a server based in the states) so it looked as though I was there.
    Still no luck, any ideas?


  17. Wifi on QR is *expensive* as they charge by usage. It’s nice to have if you need to connect, but it certainly isn’t something you turn on and leave running for a flat fee like AA or LH or JL.

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