Luxury travel has traditionally been associated with wealth. When you picture travelling in business or first class, enjoying your gourmet breakfast at an airport lounge and checking into 5 star resorts in exotic destinations, you probably imagine spending lots of money. Although indulging yourself while travelling can be very expensive, several airlines, hospitality chains and finance providers have created options for those who wish to travel in style without investing a fortune.

Offers from airlines:

If you wish to travel business class, but don’t want to spend a large some of money doing it, you can check out flight options from budget airlines such as flydubai, Air Arabia, Air India and more. We take an example of three destinations, you could fly business class to, at close to half the price of major airlines:

Destination Emirates Airlines (return tickets) Fly Dubai (return tickets)
Mumbai from AED 4,385* from AED 2,100*
Bahrain from AED 4,025* from AED 1,900*
Colombo from AED 4,735* from AED 2,900*

Another option is to get upper economy flight tickets. A grade above the regular economy seats – you get more leg space, upgraded dining and entertainment quality with this option. An example is the “premium economy” section with Virgin Atlantic, where you can get return tickets to London from Dubai starting at AED 2,950*.

*These prices are subject to change at the airline’s discretion and can also vary according to the dates you opt for.

Every once in a while, major airlines such as Etihad and Emirates airlines offer their customers the option of upgrading an existing economy class ticket to business class at a fraction of the full price of business class tickets (only on selected flights).

Rashi, a frequent flyer with Emirates airlines shares her experience, “I have been offered more than once, the option to upgrade an EK flight from London to Dubai for AED 1,800 (one way) which would have otherwise cost me about AED 4,000 especially because it was an airbus A380 flight.”

Be sure to regularly check the deals and promotions sections on airline websites for luxury holidays made affordable.

Offers from credit card providers:

Got an airmiles credit card? You can reward yourself at the end of the year with a luxury holiday.  You can even get an upgrade from economy to business by using these miles.

[Compare credit cards with airmiles in the UAE and apply online]

[Related: How many air miles do you need to travel | The lowdown on air miles-linked credit cards]

Another way to pamper yourself, even before you reach your holiday destination, is to enjoy access to an airport lounge while you wait to board your flight. Whether your credit card is MasterCard, Visa or American Express, a number of airport lounges are open to you:

Which cards Airport lounges in UAE Airport lounges world-wide
Titanium, Platinum, Premium, World or World Elite MasterCard
  • Dubai International Airport, Marhaba Lounges at Terminal 1,2,3 (Concourse A and B) and Terminal 4 at the Dubai World Central.
  • Cairo International Airport, VIP Lounges at Terminal 1 and 3, Egypt.
  • Queen Alia International Airport Amman, Crown Lounge, Jordan.
  • Kuwait International Airport, Pearl Lounge, Kuwait.
  • Dammam International Airport, First Class Lounge (Foreign Airlines), Jeddah International Airport, First Class Lounge (Foreign Airline – North Terminal),  Riyadh International Airport, ‘Premier Lounge’ in Terminal 1 (Foreign Airlines), Saudi Arabia.
Visa Signature, Visa Infinite
  • Al Reem Lounge, Al Dhabi Lounge, Abu Dhabi International, Terminal 1.
  • Al Ghazal Lounge, Abu Dhabi International, Terminal 2.
  • Marhaba Lounge, Al Maktoum International.
  • Marhaba Lounge, Dubai International Business Class Lounge, Dubai International, Terminal 1, Terminal 2, Terminal 3.
  • First And Business Class Lounge, Sharjah Int’l.
The American Express® Gold Credit Card
  • Al Reem Lounge, Terminal 1, Abu Dhabi.
  • Marhaba Lounge, Dubai, Terminal 1 and 3.
  • Pearl Lounge, Kuwait
  • Plaza Premium Lounge, Muscat, Oman
  • Oryx Lounge – Doha, Qatar
  • First Class Lounge, Terminal 1 – Cairo, Egypt.
  • Exclusive Service Lounge, Terminal 3 – Cairo, Egypt.
  • Crown Lounge, Amman, Jordan
  • Dilmun Lounge, Bahrain
  • Beirut Lounge, Beirut, Lebanon
The American Express® Platinum Credit Card
  • Al Reem Lounge, Terminal 1, Abu Dhabi.
  • Marhaba Lounge, Dubai, Terminal 1 and 3.

Apart from using airmiles for free flights or flight upgrades and using your card for lounge access, you can also check with your credit card provider for hotel discounts, room upgrades, free nights and other travel benefits such as concierge services.

Other ways to travel luxuriously at a fraction of the cost

  • Off-season travel: Travel during those times of the year that are less popular. This way you could afford to stay at 4 or 5 star hotels at off season rates. Also, airlines including Emirates and Etihad and travel agencies often have discounted all-inclusive travel packages during these times.
  • Online marketplaces: Websites such as, offer discounts on high end hotels and travel packages. You could save a lot of money on your holiday if you are able to search properly for good deals. Do your homework about the hotels, their locations, quality, etc by looking them up on travel review websites such as to make sure your luxurious holiday does not turn into an overpriced disappointment.
  • Special introductory offers on new hotels: A lot of these establishments are willing to offer discounts on their rooms to promote the hotel and get more people through the door. If you have a specific destination in mind, find out what new hotels are opening there by looking at travel guides for that city. You could end up saving a lot of money if these offers exist.