India is a very popular travel destination and there are quite a few ways to get there. You can use miles on Star Alliance, Oneworld, and even your Delta miles with Skyteam (and other partners) to book flights to India flying both West and East from the US. With the recent addition of Air India to Star Alliance, it made it even easier to book these awards using your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points / United Airlines miles. Or so it was supposed to.
The United Airlines award search tool on United.com is useful but flawed, because it does not show award availability for some partners. I’ve already written an extensive post on booking Star Alliance/United Airlines awards so reference that post if you’re new to the award booking process.
Air India Now Shows on United.com Searches
As Tahsir, the Bengali Miles Guru, pointed out on Twitter a while back, Air India award availability now shows on United.com. This will make searching for and booking these awards a ton easier. Most people who read this blog and are US-based have access to United Airlines miles due to their partnership with Chase Ultimate Rewards or from actually flying UA, and the appearance of a partner on the award search is huge.
For those going to India, you’ll notice there are quite a few routes that Air India operates using their 787 aircraft. I haven’t flown Air India so I can’t comment on the service (I hear it’s “interesting” to say the least). Don’t be fooled by these – even the Business Class seats on these planes are not that great. Australian Business Traveler even wondered whether or not they were the ugliest Dreamliner seats so far.
Still, for many people the ideal trip involves being in transit for the least amount of time so this may work out better.
Air Canada Will Fly a 787 from Toronto to Delhi Starting November 2015
Air Canada has some new 787 planes, and these are the ones that you want to get on if you have a choice. The seats will be Air Canada’s nicest Business Class product in the “reverse herringbone” configuration, which means each seat will be extremely private in the 1-2-1 configured aircraft. Service and food will be similar to what you experience on US-based airlines, so not fantastic but not horrendous (usually).
This flight will be almost 14 hours long, so being in a comfortable Business Class seat will make a big difference for this route. As a reminder, you can book this flight using United Airlines miles, Air Canada Aeroplan miles, and Avianca LifeMiles. Go with UA or LifeMiles to avoid a fuel surcharge to keep your costs low.
Air India flies from Chicago ORD to Delhi DEL, New York JFK to Delhi DEL, and Newark EWR to Mumbai BOM. Pricing for United Airlines awards are 42.5K/80K/140K one way for Economy/Business/First. If you have Air Canada Aeroplan miles, it’ll be a bit cheaper for premium cabins at 50K/75K/105K (and again, no fuel surcharges). And, as is usually the case, LifeMiles is the cheapest way all around to get there at 40K/65K/95K with no fuel surcharges.
There are tons of ways to get to India, but the addition of another partner on United’s search tool and the addition of a new route from Air Canada will provide a few new options to get there.