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Using AAdvantage Miles for flights to India

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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 😉 😉 😉

Miles aboard his flight from IAD to AUH in June
Miles aboard his flight from IAD to AUH in June

You can fly the same way…

The first thing we need to investigate are the partners of American:

AA partners
AA partners

What are the routing rules?

A great website that shows routing rules is flyerguide.com

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.14.32 PM

 

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?

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.36.12 PM

 

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:

Qatar airways will route you through Doha and they have some really nice products.

The product

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.54.37 PM
business class
Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.54.48 PM
first class

Searching for award avail: British Airways search engine

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.04.30 PMSo 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

Etihad has grown into a FORCE and their products are truly exceptional. They will route you through Abu Dhabi.

The product:

Starting in December, Etihad will fly the A380 from JFK to AUH outfitted with the First Apartment: Unreal.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.10.58 PM

The other flight will feature the older First Class product which is still a fully enclosed suite.Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.11.13 PM There is also the Business Studio which we flew in June

IMG_5401

 

and their older Pearl Business class which we flew in July:

IMG_5912

 

How to find Availability: Etihad Guest Seats – etihad.com

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.20.04 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.22.27 PM
courtesy of jet airways

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 Airways

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.

The products:

Business features a fully lie flat product in a traditional herringbone configuration.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.23.51 PM

 

First class, as we saw above features a fully enclosed suite, fully lie flat, and fully amazing.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.22.27 PM

 

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

British Airways:

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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.03.41 PM

 

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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.11.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.12.52 PM
courtesy of airliners.net

FinnAir

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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.19.24 PM
courtesy of flyertalk

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.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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4 Comments

  • Adi October 4, 2018

    While searching for award travel on Etihad, even though it says a ridculosly high number of miles for first class, will it only take AA First Class miles – 95,000 (or 115,000 today)?

    • Miles October 4, 2018

      Adi – ya disregard the Etihad pricing, you just need guest seats to show as avail. AA miles needed will be according to their chart and routing rules so keep that in mind

  • A September 10, 2017

    9W is not and has never been part of Star Alliance.

    • Miles September 10, 2017

      A – dunno know why I put that, fixed.

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