TPG Readers’ Best Tips for Visiting India on Points and Miles

Jun 3, 2018

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There’s nothing quite like India, whether you’re interested in visiting for its vast history and culture, delicious food, a chance to interact with the locals or to embark on an epic yoga retreat. It’s a country full of impressive temples, enormous cities, historic sites and incredible natural landscapes. And while the inevitable sensory overload may be a bit overwhelming at times, following these tips for first-timers will help you have a more manageable, memorable adventure.

We recently asked our TPG Lounge readers to share their best tips and go-to ways to fly to India on points and miles. Here’s what they had to say. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

Bragging Rights

Scoring a good deal with points and miles is definitely something to be proud of. Here are some of the ways TPG readers have redeemed theirs for flights to India.

“I found two tickets from HYD to DFW on Etihad business for 70,000 American AAdvantage miles each in December 2017. I have the AA credit card so the net cost was 130,000 miles for two tickets after the 10,000-mile refund from AA.” — Bhoomaiah P.

“Two separate trips, one from Sept 2016 (70,000 miles DFW–AUH–DEL) and one from Sept 2017 (DEL–AUH–JFK). I searched Etihad’s webpage to find open guest seats, then called AA and made the reservations. I was flexible with my dates and that helped in snagging award seats.” — Suprotik P.

“Business on Cathay Pacific to India with Asia miles is excellent. 120,000 miles round-trip into DEL and BOM.” — Shashwat N.

“40,000 AA miles for business class from Europe to India on Qatar. The position flight to Dublin from Boston is 13,000 British Airways Avios in economy.” — Eric H.

“Delta lets you fly business on Delta and Jet for 96k points. Alaska lets you fly Emirates business for 82.5k points. And that too on an A380. Wooot!” — Ayanjyoti G.

“I found a 160,000 mile back and forth to KTM in Nepal. It would be low enough for me to consider a positioning to get to India at that rate. (Delta Skymiles).” — Jonathan F.

“I’m going ORD–ZRH–BOM round-trip next month. Even with the layover in Zurich, it’s the most pleasant way that I’ve ever gone. There’s nonstop BOM–EWR on United, but going on Swiss with a stop in Zurich doesn’t add that much time and is sooooo much nicer.” — Steve Q.

“I sent my sister to India about 18 months ago in Emirates First with Alaska miles!” — Elizabeth T.

Emirates First is a great way to get to India from the US. Photo by The Points Guy.
Emirates First is a great way to get to India from the US. Photo by The Points Guy.

“Star Alliance business class using Aeroplan miles. 75,000 miles one-way.” — Ashish N.

“80,000 United miles got me a business-class ticket from DFW–YVZ–DXB–HYD for travel at the end of November 2017. I booked the ticket at the end of September.” — Bhoomaiah P.

“80,000 United miles to fly Lufthansa business (747 and A380, JFK–FRA–DEL–MAA) one-way in October 2017. Also, Cathay First using Alaska miles, one-way from JFK–HKG–MAA.” — Andy G.

“I do this trip three times a year. 70,000 one-way with Aeroplan. 120,000 round-trip on a round-the-world ticket on ANA. [There are] various options for first: 70,000 Alaska miles for Cathay First or JAL. 140,000 for Swiss First.” — Gaurav N.

“Alaska miles on JAL. 60,000 points each way in J with a free stop in Tokyo.” — Bernadette P.

“Before the Krisflyer devaluation, it was transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards points to Krisflyer for business class from SFO–SIN–HYD. More recently, I transferred Chase UR points to United to book business class on ANA/Asiana from SFO–ICN–DEL–HYD–BOM–NRT–SFO.” — Kaushal V.

“I fly to India twice a month for work. The best way to beat jet lag is [to fly] United’s EWR–DEL or EWR–BOM routes — just get on, eat dinner and pass out for 12 hours. Board at 9:30pm, sleep until 5:00am and have zero jet lag. It can be hard to get a saver fare more than a month out but [finding availability on] Tuesday and Wednesday are best.” — Prithvi K.

“I logged in as a UA Premier Platinum on United.com and saw round-trip business-class flights through Lufthansa for 170,000 miles + $53. from IAD–FRA–BLR.” — Prithvi K.

Book With Partner Airlines

As is usually the case with using points and miles to cash in on award flights to other countries, there’s more than one good way to go about it.

“India is the easiest — nowadays, I rarely book more than a month in advance, often in the last week — and we get the choice of the best planes from the best airlines. From LAX, the 777’s old seats on Qatar are amazingly comfortable so the 16 hours pass quite quickly. The Champagne helps as well.” — Prash K.

“Qatar via AA miles or by using the companion pass [i.e., the Travel Together Ticket] on British Airways.” — Bob St.

“Book Qatar (with QSuites), Cathay Pacific or Etihad business using AA Miles.” — Avidant B.

Picture yourself flying to India in a shiny new Qsuite. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.
Picture yourself flying to India in a shiny new Qsuite. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

“I usually fly JAL, ANA or Korean Air going over Asia. Through Europe, I’ve usually done Lufthansa but did Swiss once. I love Virgin Atlantic but the taxes and availability are a pain.” — Gaurav N.

“If you can find the award space, the United -300ER to Frankfurt out of SFO, then Lufthansa into India is a great way to go.” — Bryan N.

Qsuites or Etihad with AAdvantage miles. 70,000 in business or 110,000 in First each way.” — Christopher B.

“Etihad business class using Etihad Guest Miles. Lufthansa or United business class using United miles.” — Dhaval S.

“Asiana with United Miles.” — Dennis W.

“AA miles on Etihad business or First; AA miles on Qatar business; Avianca Lifemiles on Swiss business; Lufthansa miles on LH business/First.” — Suprotik P.

“It’s worth it to go in business. Go for Lufthansa if you can.” — Kristin S.

“Etihad business is 70,000 miles one-way with AA.” — Umang D.

Readers Helping Readers

We love it when TPG readers get so involved they end up responding to each other’s comments or offering friendly advice. When Antonio Quiñones asked about the best time to book an award flight, other TPG Lounge members quickly chimed in.

“I’m going to a wedding in November. How far out do you think is best to book? I’ve been looking at UA and it’s like 155,000 miles to go in business.” — Antonio Q.

“UA should not be more than 85,000 miles one way in business [with saver award pricing].” — Dhaval S.

“Yes and there aren’t many savers available. The majority are 180,000 miles if you’re on United metal. I did see a few savers on partners.” — Antonio Q.

“It will open up three to four weeks before that. That is my experience.” — Sidharth S.

Featured photo by Rich Jones Photography / Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.