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Using AAdvantage Miles for flights to India
I recently took a trip to Montreal and on the first leg of my trip I had the pleasure of sitting next to an Engineer ( lets call him Peter ) who regularly travels to India, has amassed over a million Aadvantage miles, and is also a newly minted Executive Platinum. Miles and I have a lot of friends who travel to India and thought it would be poignant to do an overview of the ways to use American AAdvantage to facilitate a trip there.
India is FAR! Business and First make it a lot more enjoyable
Miles had the exceptional experience of flying on Etihad in their new Business Studio earlier in the year. It made the nearly 13 hour flight fly by 😉 😉 😉
You can fly the same way…
The first thing we need to investigate are the partners of American:
What are the routing rules?
A great website that shows routing rules is flyerguide.com
As we can see by the routing rules ” Travel to Europe, Africa, and the Indian Sub-Continent/MiddleEast must be via the Atlantic only” – this immediately eliminates some great products in Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and others. However, the ones that stick out to me are Qatar, Etihad, and Jet Airways. You could also use FinnAir or British Airways, and connect in Europe. The downside to this is that most of those flights require you to go through London and tack on huge fees and taxes. FinnAir does offer a flight from Helsinki, but not nearly in the same volume as BA offers flights from LHR. Before we go any further let’s take a look at the partner award chart .
How many Miles will it take?
We can see from the chart that a one-way award to India would price out at 45k, 67.5k, and 90k for economy, business, and first class respectively. For my lovely friend Peter who has a million miles banked this creates unbelievable opportunity for him and his family to fly to India in some great products. Let’s take a look at a few:
Qatar airways will route you through Doha and they have some really nice products.
Searching for award avail: British Airways search engine
So this flight would ultimately cost 67,500 AAdvantage miles from JFK to DEL. If you needed to connect via another city, search the one way leg from say Miami to JFK on the American site… As long as there is a seat avail in any cabin, you can fly that leg to your connecting flight and it will all cost the same number of points.
When you have found the flights that you want, call in to AA at 1-800-473-7300 to make the booking. Ask for the phone charge to be waived because the flights are not bookable online.
Etihad has grown into a FORCE and their products are truly exceptional. They will route you through Abu Dhabi.
Starting in December, Etihad will fly the A380 from JFK to AUH outfitted with the First Apartment: Unreal.
The other flight will feature the older First Class product which is still a fully enclosed suite. There is also the Business Studio which we flew in June
and their older Pearl Business class which we flew in July:
How to find Availability: Etihad Guest Seats – etihad.com
This is a first class award search, and as you can see with this search, it yielded availability on a plane that would be featuring the Jet Airways First class product instead of the First Apartment. The Jet Airways product is exceptionally nice and features a fully enclosed suite. It would also be run by an Etihad staff so that food and service would be on par with any other Etihad experience.
Once you have found the flights via the Etihad website you can then call into American to book your tickets. 1-800-433-7300
Jet will route you either through Brussels, or partner with Etihad and route you through AUH ( Abu Dhabi ) – the latter would be a cool way to experience two separate products and rank them for future travel. If you’re flying to Bombai and not Delhi, you could actually fly direct from EWR.
Business features a fully lie flat product in a traditional herringbone configuration.
First class, as we saw above features a fully enclosed suite, fully lie flat, and fully amazing.
Finding award avail on Jet
- Jet is only partners with AA, not a part of One World.
- use the ANA search engine to find avail
- try the aeroplan search engine, but it often doesn’t show completel availability.
- call into American and ask for them to search availability.
Going through Europe
You will be routed through London and you will pay exorbitant fees, however lots of avail: This one way flight was over $550 in fees. That adds up when you’re flying multiple people roundtrip.
The first class product is very nice, almost business class on steroids. While I have not personally flown this product, my parents flew it roundtrip from ewr-jnb and loved it.
FinnAir will route flights from JFK year round through Helsinki and then onto Delhi, and also seasonally out of Chicago and Miami.
The Product: A340-300
Fully lie flat and great if traveling as a couple or alone – as you can see along the windows they offer the “throne seat” which gives you armrests on both sides of the seat.
How to find avail:
- Using AA which shows FinnAir Avail well
- Using the British Airways Site and piecing together flights to and from Helsinki
- Using AA site to find outbound flights to Helsinki and then BA to piece together HEL-DEL
Something to keep in mind is that the layover in Helsinki can not be longer than 24 hours, if so, it would require 2 one-way award tickets to book. American has rules that prohibit stopovers.
I think that the American Aadvantage program is very well suited with multiple airlines, offering world class service that can make the trip to India much easier, and provide an inflight experience that will enhance the overall trip. Remember to ask the AA rep to waive the online phone charge for reservations that can not be booked online. Again, the phone number is 1-800-473-7300.
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