Note: This article is written from the perspective of flying between Azerbaijan and North America or Europe, as your writers of GoTravel Azerbaijan are an Azerbaijani and North American living in Italy.
Because of our living situation between both our homes, we have done LOT of research over the past years about most economical flights to and from Azerbaijan from the USA and Europe. We’ve learned some tips and are always on the lookout for new ones to share. Anything that helps as we travel halfway across the world to visit family and friends.
Hopefully you are able to use some of these tips as you plan your journey to the Land of Fire. We’ll give a few ideas pertaining to the flight search website(s) we prefer, which connecting cities might offer the best deals by combining local transport (or adding on a stopover trip), and also how travel points you currently hold might be able to help you in ways you didn’t expect.
If you’re curious about flying business class in a relatively affordable way, feel free to read Danielle’s review on Azal Airline’s Comfort Club.
Combining trips vs. direct flight
As with any trip, it’s always going to be cheaper per experience if you are able to group trips together. For example if you are flying from across the Atlantic and have been meaning to spend some time in Italy, that why not plan for a stopover? Azerbaijan Airlines (otherwise called Azal) offers direct flight between Baku and Milan. They also fly direct from Paris, London, Geneva, Sofia, and more! You could also take advantage of Icelandair’s free stopover add-ons in Reykjavik, Iceland as you fly into Frankfurt (which is directly connected to Baku with United Airlines/Lufthsana). Or if you’re looking to explore the Middle East, there’s many affordable flights from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
If you are looking for a straight, nonstop flight from USA- the only one we know of currently is Azal Airlines’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight that flies NYC-Baku/Baku-NYC Saturdays and Mondays. NYC to Baku is 10 hours, and the other way (Baku to NYC) is 13.5. Otherwise, you’ll have a layover. Most likely this will be in Frankfurt (Germany), Istanbul (Turkey) or Moscow (Russia). (Some other possibilities are Riga, Kiev, Minsk…)
The airport (GYD):
There’s one international airport in Azerbaijan which is located in the capital, Baku. Though, if you want to try some deals for cities in nearby countries where you’d then take a train, bus, or budget airline, we’ll give you some tips for the below.
The Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport (code GYD) is super modern and beautiful as you wait to depart:
First: Our favorite flight searching site(s)
There’s always going to be a handful of sites to search for flights- Google Flights (which also allows for calendar views to see cheapest days), Skyscanner, Expedia, etc. But the site we use HANDS DOWN the most for its usability and also realistic flight paths is: Momondo
The site (at least for us) tends to give us consistently cheaper prices but also not only ridiculous flight paths. Yes, they do show you the 3-layover routes with several different budget airlines (This happens to be our next flight from NYC to Baku- scored for $330, and allows us to see several cities we’ve been wanting to, yay!), but they also show more conventional routes sticking with one airline.
The interface is friendly for checking different days, and picking how many layover you’re looking for. This is what a search looks like with “1 layover” selected:
When we find flights, it’s usually either directly from Momondo, or it’s a combination of this and insight to other cities that are options to fly into.
Second: Nearby Cities Possibilities
Something you may not think of when searching for flights to Azerbaijan is to not fly into Azerbaijan directly. Instead, travel via a nearby country connected to AZ by the budget (but safe!) airline, Buta Airways, bus or train. (Side note, Buta Airways calls itself budget, but they actually serve meal-worthy sandwiches for free as part of a ticket! Tip: ‘pandeer’ means ‘cheese’, and ‘et’ means ‘meat’)
The nearest city to Azerbaijan that also has a more open visa policy would be Tblisi, Georgia. From here, you can look up on Rome2Rio the flight, train, and bus options. If you fly into Tblisi, you have the option of sightseeing a bit in the beautiful country of Georgia that shares the Caucasus mountains with Azerbaijan.
Moscow, Russia is also a connecting city to Baku with many flight options. Though you will want to make sure you don’t need a visa in your layover. Or, plan ahead and get a visa so you can also visit the country and/or ride the train. (If going this route, make sure to budget at least an extra $100 for the visa.)
On that note- since Azerbaijan used to be part of the USSR, typically other former Soviet spots are connected via budget Buta Airways such as: Kiev (Ukraine), Minsk (Belarus), Sofia (Bulgaria). If you happen to find a cheap deal to one of these cities, you can be sure to find a connecting flight to Baku.
Their closest country in relations would be Turkey, so there’s also affordable options from Istanbul. We did this last time to get from Baku to Rome- booked a separate Buta Airways flight to Istanbul, then a new flight to Rome.
We’ve also seen some good deals flying through Athens if you’re looking into different possible grouped trips.
The reason Armenia is not mentioned
[ You might notice from the map above that Armenia (and its capital Yerevan) is much closer to Baku than the options listed above. We don’t give this city as an option because there’s technically a land conflict situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Even having the Armenia stamp on your passport when entering Azerbaijan might be a cause for more questioning. On that note- if you do plan on visiting Armenia in your trip to the Caucasus, be advised if you enter the occupied Azerbaijani land, Nagorno Karabakh, because if you enter this area without going through proper Azerbaijani passport control you will not be able to enter Azerbaijan (this happened to Anthony Bourdain actually!). Don’t worry- you don’t accidentally find yourself here since you need to take a plane or helicopter to reach the enclave.
There’s actually a couple on YouTube (below) that traveled Armenia > Georgia > Azerbaijan who can explain what we mean through their experience- if you don’t want to watch the whole video you can skip ahead to 8:00 so you cab hear of their experience at border control- it was all fine, but it’s good to be educated on this topic before planning your route! ]
Third: getting clever with points
On the surface you might not think your points from USA-based airline companies would apply halfway across the world where they don’t fly— but thanks to various international partner programs you might be in luck.
We aren’t experts on all card point systems that may apply here, so we recommend double checking the airline companies/cities to see if there’s any opportunities we missed!
United Airlines: the most options
United Airlines points (MileagePlus) are probably going to be your best bet to get to/from Baku. This is because they partner with two airlines that fly directly to Baku: Lufthsasa (German) and Turkish Airlines, but on top of that United itself is also a partner with popular travel credit card Chase— meaning you can pool your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your United MileagePlus points to add up fast. You can even take advantage of their “Excursionist Perk” (allowing a stopover in a city for free) which is explained a bit more here.
Below is an example of a one-way journey MSP to Baku when searched for via their Award Flight Search page:
The only bummer is United doesn’t have consistent availability for their Award flights- you might need to be flexible with dates.
Delta: Listed as partners with Aeroflot, but doesn’t appear in search results
According to Delta’s page that explains options for using Delta SkyMiles, you are able to redeem with Russian airline company Aeroflot (which offers many cheap flights direct to Baku), though this may be in limited routes because searching to any connect to Baku through Delta’s site came up fruitless. Did we miss something? Please get at us if you think so!
Of course, if you have enough Skymiles to get to NYC where you might find cheaper options direct to Baku, or better yet have enough Skymiles to make it to Europe where you only have to pay for flights from say Sofia or Istanbul, you’ll be sure to save money.
Points: Flexibility and creativity will always help
When trying to save money booking flights, it’s always helpful to be flexible- combining different legs of the flight with different partnering airlines could be of benefits to you with a little creative problem solving.
Delta (Skymiles) flies JFK > Frankfurt nonstop
Lufthsana (United MileagePlus + Chase Ultimate Rewards) flies Frankfurt > Baku nonstop
What airline companies fly to Azerbaijan? Might reveal more options:
Like mentioned above, we’re not experts on point systems and we are certain there’s something we missed. To help, we’ve compiled the list of airlines that fly into Baku International Airport. Maybe your specific card or point system partners with one of these airlines (Bolding the larger companies):
- Al Naser Wings Airlines
- ATA Airlines
- Azerbaijan Airlines
- China Southern Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Fly Dubai
- Iran Air
- Jazeera Airways
- Kish Air
- Lufthansa (United Airlines/Chase Rewards partner)
- Mahan Air
- Nordwind Airlines
- Qatar Airways (American Airlines parnter)
- S7 (American Airlines partner)
- Turkish Airlines (United Airlines/Chase Rewards partner)
- UIA (Ukranian)
- Ural Airlines
- Uzbekistan Airways
- Wataniya Airways
We hope after reading these tips you feel inspired to to look into ways you could save money on your trip to Azerbaijan. As we learn more about opportunities to save money on flights we’ll keep adding to this list.
If traveling from the USA and you don’t have any travel points to play around with, we recommend searching for flights on Momondo, and perhaps set up a price alert so you can get e-mails if the price goes down/up.
As always, the more flexible you are the more options you have. Typically traveling mid-week will be cheaper, but it’s always good to book with sites that offer calendars to compare prices per day.
Good luck, and happy travels!
—Go Travel Azerbaijan