Transatlantic Flight With Great Award Availability That No One Ever Thinks Of

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I’ve had surprising luck with business class award space crossing the Atlantic on a flight most people don’t think about, on an airline that’s not a member of any alliance (though they’re expected to join the Avios platform and thus be linked up with British Airways).

What I’m talking about is Royal Air Maroc which flies daily Casablanca to Montreal, offers two peak daily depaturture Casablanca – New York JFK, and flies 3 days a week non-stop Casablanca – Washington Dulles. In general I find they have good award availability, and I’ve had great luck on this DC flight.

There are (2) ways that many readers will be able to book awards on Royal Air Maroc between Casablanca, Morocco in North Africa and North America.

  1. American Express points transfer to Iberia, which is a Royal Air Maroc partner but awards are roundtrip only (94,500 miles roundtrip per person for business class). (If you have an Iberia account that’s been open 90 days and has had some activity you can also transfer British Airways Avios over to Iberia Avios.)

  2. American Express points, Starwood points, and Citibank points transfer to Etihad and Etihad is a Royal Air Maroc partner for less (44,000 miles each way per person for business class)

Space is only available as saver awards. Award space on the particular flight will either be available or it won’t be, and you cannot search the award space online.

I suggest calling Etihad Guest to see if awards are available and then transfer points. Etihad Guest agents aren’t super competent or knowledgeable about awards on their partners, so sometimes it takes more than one call. I’ve found the Manchester, UK call center (44 845 608 1225) to be best.

Fuel surcharges run $97 each way:

Royal Air Maroc flies 787s transatlantic and they offer a flat bed seat in business class. One Mile at a Time flew them in July and wrote that they exceeded his expectations, “I’d fly them in a heartbeat between the US and Morocco” though they don’t appear to be among the top carriers of the world.


Copyright: zhukovsky / 123RF Stock Photo

As Mel Brooks might have said in History of the World Part 2 if one of his characters booked frequent flyer award tickets, “No one ever suggests the Moroccan flight solution!”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. So, can you search for availability through Iberia online or do you have to call them up as well?

  2. @Lumma — you seem to have missed the bold print that says you cannot search the award space online….but I promise, it’s there if you look hard enough. 😀

  3. They also have a day flight (depart early morning, arrive at night) from JFK to Casablanca some days.

    As someone who hates transatlantic redeyes, it’s great to have an option other than LHR.

  4. Wow, great find Gary. As someone planning a vacation to Morocco, this never would have occurred to me. Thanks for this advice.

  5. Lots of unanswered questions, can we anchor flights to JFK on the award seat? How about onto Europe?

  6. @Tony you cannot add domestic US flights onto Royal Air Maroc awards using either Iberia Avios or Etihad Guest points except using additional points for another award

  7. I would not recommend flying Royal Air Maroc. Very dirty cabins, uncomfortable seats and not great food. No announcements during a three hour delay on the tarmac. People not sitting in seats during landing and takeoff and no enforcement to do so.

  8. I went to Royal Air Maroc’s website, and they are advertising fares for other flights from the United States to Europe. Are those redeemable with points? Also, does anyone know what the award redemption rates are for economy flights to Casablanca?

  9. I expect if you substituted “Morocco” or “North Africa” for “transatlantic” you’d get about 1/10 as many clicks. Nice job!

  10. @everyone: Re buying and selling miles.

    It’s well-settled law this is tortious interference. I assume one of the posters is trying to drum up business. Perhaps this is legit in other countries, but not in the US,
    I was a mileage broker in the 90’s. Not only does it not make financial sense today given the ability to buy miles cheaply from carriers, one can use miles to pay credit card bills or even get gift certificates. I can’t think of any reason to transact given the risk of having one’s account closed or being denied boarding at the airport (What do you mean you don’t know who gave you the miles for this ticket? — said airline security to the traveler.

    There was a time for everything—but the time for this has long passed.
    Yeah, I’d still buy miles from a close friend for personal travel if I needed the points, and I would not worry. When you buy from a broker you may get a ticket from am account that has sold many other tickets. It’s a red flag. The margins are very low, and there are a few honest brokers still around….but it does not make financial or common sense,

    I’d wager there is a lot more money booking award seats for people…helping them use the miles .

  11. Can you use the same ROYAL AIR MAROC ticket to travel beyond Morrocco (for example, JFK-FRA, connecting in CMN)? If not, then you have to factor in the cost of a flight (or train ticket) from CMN to your final European destination, and that MAY be why nobody considers it…

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