Greetings from the United Arab Emirates!
After almost four and a half years since the final match of the last World Cup, I’m all set to join fans from all over the world in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
This will be my third time attending the world’s greatest sporting event, after thoroughly enjoying my previous experiences in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018.
The planning process for this trip was particularly complex, as I’ll be stationed in the UAE throughout most the action, and strategically repositioning to Qatar as needed due to the inflated cost of accommodations during the World Cup.
Just like most fans of the beautiful game, I’ve been counting down the days to the World Cup ever since the last one ended.
It’s a glorious period of football fever – though uniquely taking place in the winter this year, rather than the summer, and the first edition in the Arab world – and a time to revel with other fans from all corners of the globe.
This will be my first time attending a World Cup with “skin in the game”, as I’ll be supporting Team Canada at our first World Cup in 36 years at our matches against Croatia and Morocco in the coming weeks.
Surely, I won’t be the only Canadian in attendance, and I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for fellow fans – and likely some Prince of Travel readers – to cheer with.
With millions of fans descending on the tiny country of Qatar, flights and accommodation were relatively difficult to come by at a reasonable price. Thus, I opted to use the nearby metropolises of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as my home bases for this trip.
This is yet another instance when Miles & Points has unlocked incredible value, providing me access to premium flights and luxury hotels at a fraction of the price during a time when the cost of everything is otherwise inflated.
As usual, I aimed to maximize my in-flight experiences as I was planning out my trip to the World Cup in Qatar.
Getting from the West Coast to the Middle East undoubtedly requires some long-haul flying, and I wanted to ensure a comfortable ride along the way, all while reviewing a few new airline products and taking advantage of some redemption sweet spots.
This part of the world is home to some of the world’s most renowned airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways, so naturally, that’s where I focused my efforts.
For my outbound flights, I positioned myself from Vancouver to Chicago before hopping on a direct business class flight to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways on the Airbus A350-1000, booked using 85,000 Aeroplan points prior to the recent award chart devaluation.
Space on this route isn’t particularly difficult to come by, especially when booking a while in advance, and I was interested in comparing this new product against Etihad’s business class product on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Coming home, I kept a keen eye on any Qsuites availability from Doha to North American hubs, but since Qatar Airways had initially blocked off all premium award space during the World Cup, I had to act quickly if anything fruitful became available.
Fortunately, Qatar Airways released a late swath of Qsuites availability over the last month or so, and I managed to score a flight from Doha to Seattle for just 70,000 Qatar Airways Avios.
My partner Jessy will be joining me for part of the trip, and I was able to book her on a convenient Qsuites flight out of San Francisco, as well.
To get between Abu Dhabi and Doha’s secondary Doha International Airport (DIA), which is being used to handle the additional influx of World Cup attendees, I took advantage of a lesser-known sweet spot with Aeroplan.
Regional flights between the two cities can be booked for 7,500 or 15,000 Aeroplan points in economy and business class, respectively, which offers incredible value compared to the current astronomical cash prices.
By leveraging the value that redeeming points can offer in times like these, I’ll have squeezed great value out of my Aeroplan points, even on a short-haul flight.
The primary reason for basing myself out of the UAE during the World Cup is the sky-high price of accommodations in Qatar. To add insult to injury, many of the available options don’t come close to matching the price point in terms of the quality of lodging.
With no shortage of luxury hotel options in Dubai & Abu Dhabi, and to support the work of our recently-launched travel agency, I’ll be embarking on a hotel-hopping adventure once again.
Over the coming weeks, you can expect reviews of the following properties:
- St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi (60,000 Bonvoy points)
- Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi (25,000 World of Hyatt points)
- The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (Free Night Award worth 35,000 points + 5,000 points)
- W Dubai Mina Seyahi (80,500 Bonvoy points)
- Le Méridien Dubai Mina Seyahi (Cash and points rate of 30,000 Bonvoy points + 380 AED)
- The Dubai EDITION (82,000 Bonvoy points)
- Andaz Dubai The Palm (23,000 World of Hyatt points)
- Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi (Cash and points rate of 35,000 Bonvoy points + 560 AED)
- W Abu Dhabi Yas Island (Free Night Award worth 35,000 points + 8,000 points)
- The Abu Dhabi EDITION (60,000 Bonvoy points)
- St. Regis Abu Dhabi (Free Night Award worth 50,000 points + 2,000 points)
Perhaps in contrast to these high-end hotel stays, I also booked three nights at a fairly no-frills local apartment in Doha for about $250 (USD) per night, which was one of the many accommodation types available for visiting fans.
It’s all part of the World Cup experience, of course, and I certainly don’t mind staying in a local neighbourhood in Doha to mix things up a bit. After all, there will be plenty of opportunities to stay at Doha hotels in the future when they aren’t charging $5,000+ per night. ?
After a four-year hiatus, the World Cup is about to begin, and I’m teeming with excitement to attend my third successive tournament.
I’m very happy to have been able to score direct flights in business class between North America and the Middle East, including both a new airline product in the form of the Etihad Airways A350 and an old favourite onboard Qatar Airways Qsuites.
The fact that I’m achieving 10+ cents per point (cpp) from my intra-Gulf flights compared to the inflated cash cost at the moment is only the cherry on top.
If any Prince of Travel readers are also in Qatar over the coming weeks, and especially if you’re attending the Canada matches, feel free to drop me a line below and let’s see if we can arrange a meetup!