Airports, Airlines, Aviation

Arabian Peninsula travelhack

On a whirlwind trip spanning 5 countries and 3 weeks, late-night Jan 25 I finally found executing my perfectly designed Arabian Peninsula travelhack. After 10 days split between Toronto, Canada and Windsor (Langley), UK for work, I finally began my next 10 days of vacation – which I would split between Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar – and do so on a modest airfare budget of $460 whilst combining it with some business trips. Read on for my Arabian Peninsula travelhack.

The trip planning began in late December when my friend Brice was going to be stationed off his ship in Manama for two months in January and February. I had already been thinking about visiting him, and then a fortuitous work trip to Canada and then the UK as a late add gave me the no-brainer excuse needed to extend from the UK and head to the Arabian peninsula. It took a bit of massaging to re-work the initial ticket I had already booked from Toronto to Bahrain to include the UK, but I ultimately worked it for a modest change fee ($250) with a stopover in LHR for 3 days – all under the amount it would have cost to book the UK portion from DEN-LHR. This was just the business case needed to allow work to pay for it. And this was only the start of my Arabian Peninsula travelhack.

Then, after Bahrain was decided, I of course wanted to see as many other countries regionally as I could as well. Given I had already visited Kuwait, and Yemen and Saudi Arabia were not possible (danger for the former, and inability for women to visit without a work permit, a marriage certificate, and an invitation from a Saudi national for the latter). So, that meant Oman and Qatar. This would tick off countries 50, 51, and 52 for me – a huge milestone and helping me get closer to the elusive “all countries before I die” goal.

Here’s what the final itinerary plan would look like, with costs (when there’s no cost, it was paid by work) and my Arabian Peninsula travelhack on full display:

  • Mon, Jan 16, Air Canada 1038 – M4****
    • DEN-YYZ  11:15 – 16:15, 4 hr
  • Same ticket – Y2****
    • Sat, Jan 21, British Airways 125
      • YYZ-LHR 10:05 PM Jan 22 9:55 AM, 6 hr, 50 min
    • Wed, Jan 25, British Airways 125
      • LHR – BAH,1:25 PM–11:00 PM
  • Same ticket – CM****
    • Mon, Jan 30, Oman Air 652 $294.70
      • BAH – MCT 9:55a – 12:35pm,1h 40m
    • Thu, Feb 02 Oman Air 907
      • MCT-SLL 14:55- 16:40, 01hr 40min
  • Same ticket – ZL****
    • Sat, Feb 04, Qatar Air 1145 $168.49
      • SLL 10:55pm to DOH 00:05pm, 2h10m
    • Sun, Feb 05, Qatar Air 1106
      • DOH 9:15pm to BAH 10:00pm, 0h45m
  • (Same Y2**** ticket as before) Mon, Feb 06, British Airways 124
    • BAH 1:50am to YYZ 2:30PM, 20h40m,1 stop: LHR (BA 93)
  • (Same M4**** ticket as before) Mon, Feb 06, United 8441
    • YYZ-DEN, 16:35 – 18:14, 03h, 39m

I was able to get a lot of the flights cheaply even though they were multi-segment or open-jaw due to the Arabian Peninsula travelhack of pricing the multiple segments on the same carrier. For example, I wanted to get from BAH to MCT, MCT to SLL (too far to drive with the small amount of time I had), SLL to DOH, and DOH to BAH. Booking each of those as split tickets led to segments of $200 each, across several airlines (around $800). However, when I tried to price them together in different permutations, split between one itinerary with Oman Airways and the other itinerary with Qatar Airways, I drove the price down to $460. One of the reasons I was able to execute this Arabian Peninsula travelhack is because most of the Gulf carriers are Point of Commencement carriers, which use a revenue management strategy to block availability and drive up prices on certain one-way legs. In other words, they want travelers to book complete round-trips, and penalize them if they don’t. This can often be worked around by trying multi-segment variants on the same carrier to find cheaper open-jaw variations that get around the fare rules and the revenue management practices.

It was really the perfect itinerary. The only flaw was the 5 segment return journey to Denver – it would be a long day (DOH-BAH-LHR-YYZ-DEN), and the potential to miss my final flight from YYZ-DEN due to a 2 hour connection in Toronto Pearson where I would have to exit through immigration and then re-enter the airport through security, changing terminals. But the mirror trip back to YYZ through LHR was the only way I could keep the married segment logic correct on the BA flight I had originally booked from YYZ-BAH and slip in a stop to LHR, AND have work pay.

But, YYZ is fairly easy to navigate and I have Global Entry/Trusted Traveler/Nexus which allows me to breeze through immigration and use Pre-Check on re-entry. It shouldn’t take me more than 1.5 hours to complete the transfer. And, it was a small price to pay for saving nearly $1000 on the 3 country personal side-trip from LHR.

The best part of this whole Arabian Peninsula travelhack? I got to spend some time in Toronto and Windsor, UK and enjoy those cities as well on this bleisure trip. Some favorite pictures from Toronto and the UK you ask? Here they go…

Beautiful Toronto downtown
Beautiful Toronto downtown – thanks to my Arabian Peninsula travelhack
CJ trying some Tim Horton's coffee
CJ trying some Tim Horton’s coffee
Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls (Canada)
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle guard
Windsor Castle guard
Sticky Toffee at the Duchess of Cambridge
Sticky Toffee at the Duchess of Cambridge

2 responses to “Arabian Peninsula travelhack”

  1. […] A few days back I found myself arriving in Bahrain after an exciting business trip to Toronto and London over the previous 10 days. I arrived in Manama (BAH Airport) Wednesday Jan 25 around 11PM to visit my friend Brice and kick-off a 10 day vacation through the Arabian Peninsula. If you’re interested about my complete itinerary and how I was able to book all the flights for under $500 out of pocket, read my tripchi blog here. […]

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