FF Program for travels btwn US & India

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by dezg, Oct 24, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. dezg

    dezg New Member

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    Please share your opinions regarding the best (or at least better!)/worst FF program options for a flyer who will be traveling often btwn the US (NYC) and India. Several airlines seem to have good coverage in terms of flights (BA, Emirates, Qatar, Etinad, United, AA and, of course, Air India) but I'd like to select a program that will enable me to earn qualifying miles rapidly and use them (esp for class upgrades) easily. Thank you in advance for your input.
     
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  2. kyunbit
    Original Member

    kyunbit Silver Member

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    where in India would you be going to?
     
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  3. JetsettingEric
    Original Member

    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    Don't think AA flies to India anymore..

    United is probably my bet for upgrades to India. Just keep in mind you need to fly often (high status) to get the Global Premier Upgrades, and they only work on certain fares.

    Delta has a pretty good schedule to India.

    Don't overlook alliances to India. From a pure mileage earning perspective, consider US Airways. They don't fly to India - but you can earn miles on United, Lufthansa, Swiss, Ethiopian, Turkish and other Star Alliance Carriers, plus non-star carriers such as Jet Airways, Qatar and Virgin Atlantic.

    For my next trip to India - i'm taking United there, Virgin Atlantic back. Earning Miles the entire way and have an upgrade cleared on United from a friend with a GPU and using Virgin Atlantic miles to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business.

    Mileage redemptions within South Asia are quite reasonable on US Airways. I have a sidetrip from India to Thailand in business for only 30k roundtrip.
     
  4. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    Damn that's pricey! ;)
     
  5. dezg

    dezg New Member

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    I'll e traveling from New York to Mumbai/Delhi and/or possibly Bangalore.
     
  6. kyunbit
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    kyunbit Silver Member

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    If you want a painless flight try UA. Non stops from EWR to DEL/BOM. AA/OW has one-stops via LHR/HEL and occasionally via HKG. DL/AF/KL have one stops via CDG/AMS but DL miles are normally a pain to redeem.

    Regarding usage.

    To bangalore, one easy routing is via Paris via Ari France. Seats are available normally in Y, not sure about J/F. Another route that works well from the east coast with DL miles is on Aeroflot/Saudia, their seats are wide open.

    Using AA, you can redeem on the routing via Helsinki on Finn Air for lower taxes and fees. You can also try the Etihad redemption using AA miles. Qatar is set to join AA. I would expect mileage redemption on QR using AA miles to start in the next year or so. When that starts, it would open up painless transit to you.

    United/Star Alliance offers a lot of options to India and most importantly without fuel surcharges.
     
  7. JetsettingEric
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    JetsettingEric Silver Member

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    Nice catch.. 30k miles....
     
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  8. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    I have a family vacation planned in next year. I try to search for some tickets but could not decide which way I should go away to grab some low fares. Is the Kayak alert best way to go about it? I was wondering how some expert flyers make sure they get good fares.
     
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  9. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Booking too early might be disadvantageous. Subscribe to some of the email alerts from bloggers in the BoardingArea. See who (or which one) suits you. It would also help, if you could say what is your final destination, and how many passengers.

    There are some general things to keep in mind. Look at an airline's checked luggage allowance. International and domestic carriers have different policies. Some carriers have generous allowance, and some do not. However, if you break your booking into separate PNR for international and domestic, you might end up paying hefty per kilo for excess weight once you reach India.

    In the past one year (more or less) Turkish Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, Virgin and a few others had a limited time only sale to various destinations in India.
     
  10. ab3i
    Original Member

    ab3i Silver Member

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    UA might be one of the best options. The directs from EWR, as well as the alliance partnership with LH usually results in ideal routings to the three cities you mentioned. On a side note, i never get upgraded on the EWR-DEL non-stop, but almost always get upgraded if i fly LH (although I end up using more of the GPUs).
     
  11. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    The most destinations covered in india is, I think Emirates, from their Dubai hub. In 2009-10, Skyteam was the most dominant with NW, DL,KL,AF,CO all flying into Mumbai. maybe AZ, but I am not too sure.
     
  12. knagiri

    knagiri New Member

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    United is your best bet. Fly through Europe using Star alliance partners if flying from East Coast. A lot of options to fly from West coast with Star alliance partners as well.

    Delta has a good network to India as well but I usually take United, so cannot give much feedback on Delta.
    You can get a roundtrip for ~80K to any of the south Indian cities like Banglore, HYD etc.
     
  13. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    Thanks for some cool tips. I plan to fly from SFO, a family of 3 to Delhi. 80K per seat will be too many miles for me as I do not have that much. I plan to pay so if I could a ticket around 1000 or less would be great. Generally I have seen around 1300 per person.
     
  14. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I notice that most messages in this thread aren't talking about redeeming miles for upgrades, which seems to the crux of your question. I know UA best, so I'll tell you about it. Maybe the experts on the other programs will jump in with more wisdom on those.

    Best thing (for me) about UA: E+. Once you get to silver (25k PQMs and, starting in 2014, $2500 in annual spend), you can get E+ seats at time of check-in. Once you get gold (50k + $5k), you get them at booking, including exit rows.

    Worst thing (for you): mileage upgrades require a significant cash co-pay. In cheaper fare classes, a one-way upgrade US-Central Asia is 35k miles plus $600. Per passenger. US-Europe is 20k + $550. https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/news/United_Award_Chart_2012-03-03.pdf You effectively cannot redeem miles for upgrades on partners -- doing so requires a Y or B fare.

    If you're travelling enough to get 1K (100k PQMs + $10k annual spend), you'll get 6 GPUs per person. No copays, but requires a W fare or higher (compare to AA's equivalent instruments, which are good on any fare). Availability is dicey but exists, no matter whether using GPUs or miles+cash. You might prefer to only buy flights that you can upgrade at time of booking, to avoid the last-minute uncertainty.

    You earn 100% PQMs on all fares on UA metal -- none of this "cheap fares earn half". Most int'l C seats are 100% flat.

    On the plus side, UA miles are good to use for award travel generally: they allow one-way awards, and star alliance is huge. I use most of my UA miles for tickets, not for upgrades, and I use far more UA miles than AA/US/BA/etc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
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