Trip Introduction: Driving 1,265 km in Jordan, Israel and France via Icelandair, Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian Business Class
At times, a great discounted travel opportunity comes up that becomes the genesis of a new trip. While I was searching around for something to do in this pandemic disrupted travel environment, I came across a great international business class fare from Western North America to Europe. Without much hesitation, we booked ourselves into a trip to France, Jordan and Israel. Read on to see how we put it all together.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Jordan, Israel and France during the end of the pandemic. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
If you enjoyed this post, please follow us here or on social media through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more travel tips and hacks on how to “Upgrade Your Travels”.
✈️ Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Driving 1,265 kilometres in Jordan, Israel and France via Icelandair, Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian Business Class
- My Favourite Long Layover Restaurant at SeaTac Airport: 13 Coins
- The Club at SEA Business Lounge, “S” Concourse, Seattle Tacoma, USA
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Seattle – Reykjavík
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Reykjavik – Paris Charles de Gaulle
- The Residence Inn by Marriott Paris Charles de Gaulle Central Airport, France
- Salon Paul Maxence Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2A, France
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2A, France
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Paris – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Business Lounge: Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Amman
- What to Expect Driving through the Kingdom of Jordan
- Dead Sea Marriott Resort and Spa, Jordan
- Top Five Tips for a Day of Canyoning – Hiking the Wadi Mujib Trial, Jordan
- Petra Marriott Hotel, Jordan
- How to Tackle the Ruins of Petra, Jordan
- Is it Worth Seeing Petra by Night?
- Al Manara, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba, Jordan
- Going Local: Al Mohandes Cafeteria, Aqaba, Jordan
- Memories Aicha Luxury Tented Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan
- Getting Sandy in Wadi Rum, Jordan
- The St Regis Amman, Jordan
- Views from the Citadel in Amman, Jordan
- Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge, Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- The Petra Lounge, Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- Royal Jordanian Business Class: Amman – Tel Aviv
- The Sheraton Tel Aviv, Israel
- The Intersection of the World’s Religions, Visiting Jerusalem, Israel
- Visiting Tel Aviv’s Beaches, a Day at Gordon’s Beach, Israel
- The Dan Lounge, Ben Gurion International Airport – Terminal 3, Tel Aviv, Israel
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Tel Aviv – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles Lounge, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- iGA Sleep Pod, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- iGA Lounge, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Paris
- The Westin Paris Vendôme, Paris, France
- Returning to the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
- What’s Left of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, Paris, France
- Bateau Mouches Seine Cruises, Paris, France
- Le Cafe de la Paix, Paris, France
- Bouillion Pigalle, Paris, France
- Le Café du Trocadéro, Paris, France
- Extime Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2B, France
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Paris – Reykjavík
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Reykjavík – Seattle
Trip Introduction: Driving 1,265 km in Jordan, Israel and France via Icelandair, Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian Business Class.
Planning the Trip:
Flights from Canada to France
While I was sitting around in the early summer of 2022, I happened to notice a deeply discounted Icelandair Saga Business Class sale for the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023. Icelandair was offering full business class tickets from nearby Seattle to most points in Western Europe for a cheap $1,500 CAD or $1,100 USD.
We booked Icelandair Saga Premium Business Class Seattle – Reykjavík, Icelandair Saga Premium Class Reykjavík – Paris and return Icelandair Saga Premium Business Class Paris – Reykjavík and connecting home to Icelandair Saga Premium Business Class Reykjavík – Seattle. These fares booked into “A” Class and allowed earning of 125% on Alaska Mileage Plan.
This was a great deal since business class tickets on Icelandair were usually around $4,300 CAD. It was made even more of a great deal considering that international business class reward availability had pretty much dried up immediately after the pandemic. Although the Icelandair seats were not fully flat business class, at this price point; who’s complaining?
Thinking that we could use the fares to visit Paris, France, in the fall, we started to build our itinerary around this. My thinking then evolved that we could then fly further afield from Paris, France. I started to research the countries of Jordan and Israel since I had yet to visit this part of the world.
Flights from France to Jordan / Israel
The original plan was to redeem an Air Canada Aeroplan frequent flier reward between Paris and Jordan on an open jaw entering into one country and departing from the other. The business class tickets were pricing at 45,000 Aeroplan points each way for a total of 90,000 Aeroplan Points per person round trip. There was lots of availability on Lufthansa, Turkish, Agean and Egpyt Air. Of these, only Turkish seemed to be most interesting.
Dependent on aircraft, Turkish Airlines offered a fully flat seat instead of the usual European Business Class Seat which was an economy version with a blocked middle. While we could have routed on “dry” Egypt Air with perhaps a 15 hour layover to visit the Egyptian Pyramids; we were looking for convenience and comfort. There were also occasionally routes on Oman Air and Etihad Airways through the Middle East for 65,000 Aeroplan Points, but I wasn’t able to locate any dates and availability that worked for our schedule.
After that analysis, I discovered that Turkish Airlines was having a sale on business class fares. I was able to get a fully paid business class fare from Paris to Jordan, returning Tel Aviv to Paris for $1,400 CAD ($1,039 USD). By flying Turkish, this would allow us to travel from Paris to the Mediterranean Middle East on their Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300 and Airbus 330 aircraft with a stop over at the new Turkish Airlines Istanbul International Airport Business Lounge. We would credit these fares to Air Canada’s Aeroplan with this fare booked into “J” class, which allowed for the accumulation of 110% RDM in Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flier program.
Flights from Jordan to Israel:
Since there remains travel scrutiny on Israeli Passport stamps, we decided to fly between Jordan and Israel as opposed to getting a Jordan Exit Immigration stamp near an Israeli land border. Royal Jordanian airlines has a monopoly on this short 68 mile air route between the two capitals.
Regular paid economy tickets were pricing at about $400 CAD or $315 USD for a one way ticket. As Royal Jordanian is a One World Member, I redeemed 6,000 British Airways Avios and $391.50 CAD ($290 USD) against two business class reward seats on a Royal Jordanian Crown Business Class Amman – Tel Aviv trip.
While I could have redeemed a “full” 12,500 British Airways Avios and $261.50 CAD ($194 USD) for a ticket outright, I didn’t find that the price difference of $130 CAD ($95 USD) was worth the additional 6,500 BA Avios Rewards points. I transferred these points in from American Express Membership Rewards and the transfer took about 48 hours from American Express (Canada).
While I could have redeemed a smaller 6,000 Avios + $ 261.10 or 3,350 Avios + $331.10 for an economy class seat, there wasn’t any availability for the day I wanted to travel. The Royal Jordanian Crown Business Lounge Amman, Jordan is a member of Priority Pass, so the only real benefit for flying in Royal Jordanian Business Class is priority check in, and additional baggage allowance, since you can typically access this lounge through Priority Pass.
When I booked the 2 seats left remaining within award inventory, I was a bit surprised to discovered that they were in fact the only two seat remaining in this class of cabin for this flight 3 months in advance. I went to select seats and we didn’t get the opportunity to sit next to each other. As a result, we ended up in the middle one behind each other for this 45 minute flight.
Lastly, I needed a positioning flight to get to our gateway city of Seattle, Washington, United States. I booked departing from our home city of Vancouver, BC, Canada on Alaska Airlines. Each of these flights would allow earning of a minimum of 500 Alaska Airlines Miles on the 117 mile flight as a result of their generous Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. I was also able to use a $175 USD discount voucher from my earlier Las Vegas trip when my checked bag mis connected in Seattle. Tickets for two between Vancouver – Seattle booked about 3 weeks in advance with the discount code applied came to $246 USD return. I have reviewed this short service-less flight dozens of times so I won’t do so again.
YVR-SEA (paid – Alaska Airlines)
SEA-KEF-CDG (paid – Icelandair)
CDG-IST-AMM (paid – Turkish Airlines)
AMM-TLV (British Airways Executive Club Award)
TLV-IST-CDG (paid – Turkish Airlines)
CDG-KEF-SEA (paid – Icelandair)
SEA-YVR (paid – Alaska Airlines)
On our way into France, we had the need for one night stay between our two tickets. With several options near the Paris Airport, we ended up at the Residence Inn by Marriott Paris Charles de Gaulle Central Airport, Paris, France. Our stay at this almost brand new property included complimentary breakfast and a comfortable suite like environment.
The country of Jordan has a very strong Marriott presence with many Marriott properties, a brand new Sheraton, Luxury Collections, a W Hotel, a St Regis and a Ritz Carlton having a presence in the country. Likely thanks to a strong business travel posture, the country is a great deal on Marriott Bonvoy reward points.
We booked in for one night at the Dead Sea Marriott Resort and Spa. This was our first night of arrival into the country. This would turn out to be a great resort, and I wished that we had more time at this location.
We booked in for two nights at the Marriott Petra. There were reports that this was a dated and high turn over property. The rates at this property soared to upwards of $600 CAD ($445 USD) a night, making points possibly a great value here. Luckily, I was able to find a rate of only $286 CAD ($212 USD), so I paid cash for this stay.
We booked in for two nights at the Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba, Jordan. I used two a American Express Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Awards redemption worth 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy with an additional payment of 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (total 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) against a room worth 245 JOD ($368 USD). The rate eventually went up to 368 JOD ($519 USD) so it was tremendous value outsized value to redeem these certificates against a property of this price point. I applied Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards against a number of Suite Categories. We would end up being upgraded into a Superior Suite worth 510 JOD ($968 CAD or $719 USD) a night. As a result, we received tremendous value for a free stay.
In terms of picking a Wadi Rum camp, I did some research on the area. The thing to do in Wadi Rum is to sleep in a glass dome under the stars. If this price point isn’t your thing, they also have fabric glamping tents which are neat, but aren’t nearly as exciting or glamourous.
My first pick of the popular Wadi Rum UFO Hotel and the Wadi Rum Luxury Hotel were actually located outside of the Wadi Rum eco reserve. Since it didn’t appeal to come all this way not to see the actual Wadi Rum itself, we ended up at the tried and tested Memories Aicha Luxury Camp Wadi Rum, Jordan. It was difficult to get domed availability even at three months out and I had to move many parts of the trip around to days when they had domed availability. I booked this property with the property direct through the Memories Aicha Wadi Rum Camp website on a free cancellation basis up to 7 days in advance of travel. The property was responsive and provided a list of tours and parking information in advance.
We booked in at The St Regis Amman, which was a brand new property. It appeared more interesting than the W Hotel Amman (which had a strange no personal alcohol policy; perhaps too many raucous parties?), the Marriott Amman and the Ritz Carlton Amman (that didn’t offer elites breakfast). The St Regis Amman would end up being a very comfortable stay as a result of a Marriott Titanium upgrade into a St Regis Suite.
For our time in Isreal, we again stuck with the Marriott properties. For a short stay, we wanted to stick close to the beaches and the central part of Tel Aviv. As a result, location mattered and became the primary driver of selecting a property. Between the Sheraton Tel Aviv, the Renaissance Tel Aviv and the cool looking The Jaffa, a Luxury Collection hotel, we ended up at The Sheraton Tel Aviv. While the Jaffa was leading the way, we opted for the Sheraton Tel Aviv which was located right on Gordon Beach. The Sheraton Tel Aviv was a great choice, and I’d easily return again to this property due it’s location and availability of a Sheraton Executive Lounge.
In terms of Paris, France, there were dozens of Marriott options. Since Paris hotel rooms are typically very small, we decided to leverage the Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Award route by choosing a hotel with many suites. We had Suite Night Upgrades to use so we looked to find a hotel that had the highest number of available suites. This translated into The Westin Paris – Vendôme, which had a great location.
We elected to self drive within Jordan by renting a vehicle. While we could have gotten ourselves a driver, we preferred the independence of renting a car. It’s always a bit unnerving to land in an international country and decide whether you want to drive, so I developed a post on What to Expect while Driving in Jordan.
We had two major activities while in Jordan. We had a guided tour of Wadi Rum from a beduoin driver within Wadi Rum. We also did an excellent day of water canyon hiking within Wadi Mujib. Both activities were highly recommended.
In other highlights, we also did a tour of Jerusalem through the intersections of all the various religious sites. I was happy that we took the time to take in this history while we travelled through this corner of the world.
Our points and miles redemption summary:
While this wasn’t entirely a free trip, we leveraged the large discount that we received on our international business class air fares. We elected to pay for most of our hotels instead of redeeming points; saving the Marriott Bonvoy points for higher value redemptions.
In summary, we earned and redeemed:
- Redemption: Alaska Voucher for $175 USD against Alaska Airlines Vancouver – Seattle – Vancouver
- Earned: 1,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Points (500 + 250 + 500 + 250) on Alaska Airlines Vancouver – Seattle – Vancouver, as an Alaska MVP.
- Earned: 17,564 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Points (6,339, + 2,443 = 2443 + 6339) on Icelandair Saga Business “A” Fare Seattle – Reykjavik – Paris – Reykjavik – Seattle, as an Alaska MVP)
- Earned: 4,610 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles (1,519 + 828 + 744 + 1519) on Turkish Airlines Business Class Paris – Istanbul – Amman, Tel Aviv – Istanbul – Paris, as an Air Canada Elite 35K
- Earned: 15,300 Points (5,200 Base + 3,900 Elite + 6,200 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at Residence Inn by Marriott Paris Charles de Gualle as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
- Earned: 15,300 Points (5,200 Base + 3,900 Elite + 6,200 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at Dead Sea Resort Marriott and Spa as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
- Earned: 15,300 Points (5,200 Base + 3,900 Elite + 6,200 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at Petra Marriott Hotel as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
- Redemption: 2 Free Night Certificates courtesy Marriott Bonvoy American Express Credit Card at Al Manara, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba + 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points
- Earned: 15,300 Points (5,200 Base + 3,900 Elite + 6,200 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at St Regis Amman as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
- Earned: 15,300 Points (5,200 Base + 3,900 Elite + 6,200 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at Sheraton Tel Aviv
- Redemption: 12,000 British Airways Executive Club Avios Points (6000 X 2) for Royal Jordanian Business Class: Amman – Tel Aviv as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
- Earned: 15,300 Points (5,200 Base + 3,900 Elite + 6,200 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at Westin Paris Vendôme
- Redemption: 12,000 British Airways Executive Club Avios Points (6000 X 2) for Royal Jordanian Business Class: Amman – Tel Aviv as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
While this was a complicated trip to put together, it was not all that impossible to do with a little research and advance planning. In the end, it became a great trip back into international travel after the end of the suspension of travel from the pandemic.