Everybody loves a good deal. And it is hard not to be excited when a new one comes along.
A few days back Oman Air announced that passengers travelling business class on Europe to India / Far East (or vice versa) can get a free stopover at Al Bustan Palace, Muscat. The resort is spectacular and has been refurbished only in October 2018.
However, there are some questions you should ask yourself.
Note: I presume you have not yet made the bookings or are willing to change the bookings. If you had somehow anticipated this offer and booked a one-day stopover in Muscat, kudos to you 🙂
What returns will I get?
It is helpful to look at any offer in terms of return on investments.
A typical business-class ticket from Europe to India on Oman Air will cost $2,500+. I checked about 50 combinations and the fares offered by Emirates, Etihad, Qatar were similar to Oman Air. However, cheaper options were available if flying into Delhi or Mumbai. This is because, these cities are also served by European carriers like Lufthansa, Swiss, KLM, Air France. More competition means less price.
Similarly, a business-class ticket from Europe to Far East on Oman Air will be $3,000+.
Al Bustan Palace rates start from OMR 126 ($327). So you would get a returns of 10-13%. However, if there are two of you, the returns halve. You pay twice as much for flights but hotel rate doesn’t change much.
I have an existing booking. Should I change it for more stopover time in Muscat?
For flights from Europe, the change fee for Oman Air is EUR 200 each way (Business Lite). The free hotel retails for $327, so you can do the math.
Is there any way to book using miles?
There are few ways of earning miles to Oman Air’s FFP without actually flying them. However, Oman Air is a partner airline in the Etihad Guest program.
Reward seat availability can be checked on Oman Air website. You can call Etihad Guest helpline to book tickets. The cheapest booking that will qualify for the free night is Mumbai to Muscat to Munich. This will cost 50,000 Etihad Guest miles for a one-way ticket in business class.
The complete Oman Air redemption chart can be found here.
How much will it cost to reach the resort?
Al Bustan Palace is about 40 km from the airport. The cost to reach the resort varies between $30 to $60.
Shall I extend my stay at Oman?
Every extra night (if available) will cost OMR 100 ($260) in April and OMR 70 ($180) from May – August. So you save about $140 over and above the regular price. This sounds like a good deal.
How is the weather?
Sadly, it is going to be hot. Muscat in April hovers around 33/26 degrees Celsius. And every month the temperature increases by a couple of degrees.
What are the other offers?
Due to obvious reasons, summers are low-season for Middle East. Therefore, airlines come up with such offers to attract passengers and boost tourism.
In 2018, Etihad had offered a free night in Yas Island even on economy class tickets. Similarly, UAE had offered a free transit visa valid up to 48 hours.