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Great West Coast to India award space with United miles via new nonstop route

by on Thu December 3, 2015 • No Comment
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airindia

Air India has quietly launched its first nonstop flights from India to the West Coast of the U.S. via its new San Francisco to Delhi route.

That sounds promising because Air India is a Star Alliance partner with United, meaning you can use MileagePlus miles to book the flights.

The flights run on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday both to and from India using a 777-200LR aircraft and award prices with MileagePlus are:

  • Economy Class: 40,000 miles one way
  • Business Class: 80,000 miles one way
  • First Class: 140,000 miles one way

Sadly, the Air India 777-200LR offers 2-3-2 seating in Business Class with seats that don’t lie fully flat.

Instead, they’re angled flat seats like these, which are tough to handle for a 17 hour flight.

airindiabiz

If you want a full flat experience, you’ll need to fly in First Class with a 1-2-1 configuration and pay an astronomical 140,000 miles one way.

airindiafirst

But award space is really good through much of 2016 in all three classes of service, usually for 2 people at a time. Note that the award calendar includes space on other flights, which is why you see available beyond the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays the flight operates.

awardspaceairindia

Despite the dated seats, the sweet spot here is Business Class for 160,000 miles roundtrip. You’ll get about 3 cents per mile in value with cash tickets running close to $5,000, which is actually cheap for such a long haul (Air India isn’t pretending its Business Class is competitive with the Gulf carriers).

And if you want to get from the West Coast to India quickly with miles, there aren’t a lot of other options.

  • Etihad flies via Abu Dhabi from San Francisco and Los Angeles, which you can book with American AAdvantage miles but award space in advance is scarce.
  • Emirates flies from both Los Angeles and San Francisco to Dubai, which you can book with Alaska MileagePlan, but award space is also scarce, though much better on the Seattle to Dubai Emriates flight
  • Otherwise you’re left with traditional connections in Europe or Canada that add 3 – 8 hours to the trip

But for some, the thought of flying Air India is enough to add 8 hours to a trip and take another carrier, especially if you’re using MileagePlus miles. You’re already paying the higher partner rate to fly on Air India, so you could fly more modern life flat business class options on Lufthansa, Swiss, or Austrian for the same price.

 

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