BA rejigs Middle East schedules – outstanding Avios availability on new flights

British Airways has announced a shake-up of its services to the Middle East.  This is either crazy or ambitious, depending on how you see it, as they are throwing in more resources whilst competing with the (frankly superior) offerings of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

The good news is that you can find EXCELLENT Avios availability on the new services to Muscat and Doha.

How good?  Well, on 16th November for example, there are 9+ Avios seats to Muscat in World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World and ‘just’ 7 Avios seats available in First Class!  Doha is identical!  9+, 9+, 9+ and 7.

Cash tickets are also cheap.  Until the BA sale ends on Tuesday, you can book World Traveller Plus from £599 and Club World from £1,107 to either Muscat or Doha.  Travel dates are limited though – the Club World fare is only available for two weeks over Christmas and New Year.

Let’s take a step back and look at what is happening.

BA A380

Muscat, Oman

At present, British Airways flies from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, with a stopover, and then continues to Muscat.

This is ending on 30th October.  Going forward:

the daily British Airways Abu Dhabi service will depart two hours later than usual, at 11.45 (it remains a 787 route).  It will not continue to Muscat.

a new ‘five days a week’ direct service to Muscat is launched, departing Heathrow at 19.50 and arriving in Oman at 07.05.  This will be a four class Boeing 777.

Doha, Qatar

At present, BA flies from Heathrow to Bahrain, with a stopover, and then continues to Doha.

This is ending on 30th October.  Going forward:

the daily British Airways Bahrain service will depart at 13.25 (it will be a four class 777 route).  It will not continue to Doha.

a new daily direct service to Doha is launched, departing Heathrow at 22.30 and arriving in Qatar at 08.05.  This will be a four class Boeing 777.

I’m not hugely sure these moves make sense:

Can BA win enough business from Oman Air to fill an overnight Muscat service?

Can BA win enough business from Qatar’s six daily London services to fill an overnight Doha service?

More interestingly, is moving the Abu Dhabi flight back from 09.35 (landing 19.50) to 11.45 a good move?  A lot of passengers on that flight are heading to Dubai because the first BA Dubai service doesn’t depart until 13.10 (landing 23.15).  Anyone who wants to arrive in the Middle East at a sensible time will now be forced onto Emirates or Etihad.

These are long term questions though.  In the short term, I recommend you take a look for Avios availability from November onwards on the new Muscat and Doha services.  Remember that you can use Avios on Qatar Airways to hop from Doha to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah or elsewhere in the region.  I’ve never been to Oman but the high end hotel scene there is meant to be good.

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  1. Relatively short overnight flights are hideous and I can’t see the attraction of the new times.

    • The majority of people who live near LHR knew there was an airport before moving there. I would lke something that departs the UK at 0100 and arrives in DXB at 1200.

  2. On Business Traveller it says the Doha flights will use a 787-9.

  3. MrHandBaggageOnly says:

    We had a very enjoyable BA Holiday trip a couple of years ago to Muscat. The city itself doesn’t offer a huge amount for the keen tourist, but as a beach destination it was great. The hotel staff treated us like VIPs and we’re keen to go back. The one thing that was putting me off was the flights, as the current schedule (and stop in AUH) weren’t great. The new times look much better, so a return trip is back on the cards! :)

  4. I’ve recently booked a First redemption on the BA Doha flight to transfer onto QR down to Male next spring. Change of schedule email says the new flight is due to land DOH at 0715. QR flight is scheduled for 0820 (on separate redemption ticket). Is 65 minutes an adequate transfer time at DOH? I’m presuming I should be able to check bags all the way from LHR to MLE…

    • It is adequate if you don’t get put through transit security (some UK flights seem to avoid it) or you get a fast track pass. Not sure about your bags!

    • I recently had similar issue with the bags so I’ve checked with the BA and this is the answer that I got, hope it helps:

      Baggage will normally be checked to your final destination, provided your journey is on the same ticket. However, if you hold separate tickets for the flights in your journey, we will only through check your baggage to your final destination if the connecting flights are operated by us or by another oneworld airline.

      • Scallder says:

        That isn’t completely accurate. I had similar situation back in September. Had a reward flight on BA (First) to Miami and then business down to Lima on LAN. Apparently BA couldn’t do this with LAN for reasons unbeknown to them. Luckily had an eight hour layover so wasn’t too much of an issue

    • Are your flights all on one ticket? If not the connection risk is with you, and I wouldn’t risk it.

      • Oh I see you’ve already said it is a separate redemption. I don’t know what sort of insurance you have but if you have an alternative (perhaps helped but trying to get BA to put you on a different flight to the Middle East?) I would go for that.

        • The alternative would be to spend a night in Doha and then get the QR flight 24 hours later to MLE.

          I’ve heard stories of people on QR into Doha having connecting flights held for delays/being met on the tarmac and transferred directly into the next QR leg.

          I’m hoping being F on BA incoming should get us first off the plane and through any security fast track.

          Insurance is Amex Platinum – would I have any claim if we missed the connection- especially as they are both redemption flights -taxes/fees paid on BAPP.

          • Look up the Minimum Connection Time for Doha if you can find it. If you are inside that unlikely insurance would cover you as you are not meant to have shorter connection period.

      • I’ve read that oneworld has a requirement that if someone is holding separate tickets on a single trip involving two alliance members, they are treated as a single conjuncted ticket when it comes to reaccommodation issues. American Airlines have this as a published policy on their website – I’ve not looked at othe oneworld member websites.

        Apparently to make your two tickets a ‘conjuncted ticket’ you need to have the two tickets linked (I’m not sure which carrier you’d call if tickets were issued by two different oneworld carriers) or checkin both yourself and your luggage as far as the first destination on your second ticket.

        The policy is hugely helpful and an definitely a differentiatior when it comes to airline alliances. There is also the oneworld Global Support Centres that help to fix those missed connections between alliance partners.

        I transited Doha on Friday night / Saturday morning – security was a breeze and completed in under a minute – using the priority queue. You need to keep an eye out for a sign at about waist height next to the Tensa tape, there will be a ‘priority queue dragon’ standing in front of it, so you may walk past it if you’re not observant enough. They’ll check your boarding pass and let you through if you qualify.

        I read in Qatar Airways’ inflight magazine that if you have a tight connection at Doha or your inbound flight is delayed, you’ll be met on the air bridge (or at the bottom of the steps if you’re on a bussing stand) and whisked to your connecting flight.

        • Do you have that in writing anywhere? It is only AA that I have ever seen offer a published policy regarding this. Even BA say that for separate itineraries on their own metal they don’t guarantee they’ll be able to help although normally that isn’t really an issue.

    • Ali,

      I would say 65 minutes is too short. Even assuming there are no delays, the landing time in Doha is based on wheels on the runway, not passengers disembarked. Also, the gate for the Male flight likely closes 20-30 mins before takeoff, so your best case is to have 35 mins to clear transit checks, and get to the Male gate – tight!!

      • Copied from Hamad International Aiport website:

        “If your onward flight is departing in less than 45 minutes after your arrival at Hamad International Airport, then we can speed you through transfer formalities to help you reach your boarding gate on time. Please alert our ground staff as soon as you exit your aircraft and walk onto the aerobridge, or as you board the passenger bus.”

  5. Callum says:

    It seems somewhat bizarre that you suggest BA can’t compete with the superior Qatar airlines to Doha, yet you think lots of people are flying BA to Abu Dhabi – not only choosing them over Etihad and Emirates, but flying to an airport an hour away from their actual destination of Dubai? How do they fit together?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      would have thought BA are using these flights to be able to connect passengers on to Qatar and Oman flights to other ME and far eastern countries?

      • Callum says:

        I can’t imagine BA want to give connecting traffic to Oman Air, but I’m sure that comes into it with Qatar.

        It doesn’t really change my question to Raffles though, as they were questioning why people would fly BA instead of Qatar, while describing a group of people who not only choose BA above Etihad and Emirates, but fly to a completely different Emirate to the one they want to go to!

        The only thing I can come up with is frequent flyer benefits, but if they’re flying to Dubai regularly and prefer Emirates they could switch to Qantas (or AA with Etihad) if they want to stay in OneWorld. Maybe the Executive Club is a much bigger draw than I realised though!

    • Different situations – people who choose to fly BA for status or Avios to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, as the times are ok, now lose that option. You may accept inferior airline or inferior timing but making people accept both is pushing it.

      And who seriously thinks 6 hour overnight flights to the ME, landing at 4am UK time, are attractive?

      • Callum says:

        And exactly how many people are there on each flight who would really rather fly Emirates/Etihad but stick with BA for status yet will switch over a 2 hour difference? Bearing in mind that would therefore mean they aren’t flying to the region regularly otherwise it would be worth having AA/Qantas/Etihad/Emirates status instead. One?

        I’m not remotely following your argument as to how it can be a successful strategy at AUH but couldn’t possibly work at DOH.

        People who want to be in the UK one day and Qatar the next?
        People who want to connect to somewhere else in the region and want to arrive with time to do something on that day?
        People who want the cheapest flight?
        People who would like a days stopover to see Doha on the way to Australia?

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying I do not follow your argument at all.

        • Callum says:

          Though looking again I see the Doha flight lands at 6am and the Oman flight lands at 5am – is that the one you meant when you said 4am?

  6. barnaby100 says:

    Just check out the christmas hotel price before booking Oman. £1500 at the Chedi a night for a room that is usually sub £500.

  7. Tom.Murray says:

    We visited both AUH (return on 787 Dreamliner) late 2015 and previously MCT via AUH on a 777 late ’14. J Class standby – out Thurs back Mondays. Both times no problem getting on and cabins not full. Seems bizarre shuffling flight times back. There’s plenty of competition. Bodes well for staff travel!
    Enjoyed Al Bustan Palace in Muscat and the St Regis in Abu Dhabi by the way.

  8. Roger Wilco says:

    I flew a few times to MCT via AUH. The plane on the short AUH-MCT leg was rather empty on both directions – but it did pick up a few local pax for the short hop.