Happy New Year !! Want to know about travel between USA and India with Miles?
With the ongoing Pandemic, traveling across the borders has become a lot more difficult with the restrictions and the limited services offered by airlines. On the bright side, international business travel is significantly down. Hence, the demand for the available space is not as bad as one might think.
If you still need to travel between the USA and India, you could even use miles and possibly find premium cabin space as well.
As per the border agreements, travel between India and the USA is currently possible only through direct routes. The only two airlines presently operating non-stop flights between the USA and India are United Airlines and Air India; both airlines belong to Star Alliance.
Let us look at the options available for using miles for travel between the USA and India.
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United’s loyalty Program “Mileage Plan” is probably the first choice, given that it is easier to accumulate miles with credit cards and transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
You may redeem Mileage Plan miles for travel on United Airlines as well as AirIndia.
If you prefer business class, you need at least 75,000 Miles for the saver award.
Note that the Mileage plan doesn’t have a fixed award chart, so we could expect variation in Miles needed for the Saver award as well.
You may try the 30-day calendar and filter by “Non-Stop” to find the cheapest saver awards.
LifeMiles is a crazy program with huge potential. Recently, several sales were offering bonuses as high as 200% on purchased miles, which is equivalent to 1.1 cents a mile.
We could use LifeMiles for award tickets on Air India and United.
Note that the above itinerary needed 52.5K miles. Still, if you add segment to the itinerary, the price could be different, as shown below.
Should you need Business class, you need a minimum of 78,000 miles.
Another program to consider for booking award tickets with Air India or United Airlines is Aeroplan. Aeroplan is a part of Air Canada (another Star Alliance member)
Here is what it costs, in most cases, we should be able to find the same Saver award availability with Aeroplan as we could find in LifeMiles and United.
Aeroplan is a transfer partner with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards (starting from late 2021)
What about other programs?
Certainly, there are options to explore through other frequent flyer programs like Flying Returns (Air India) , ANA Mileage Club or any other Star Alliance member.
Given the convenience of accumulating the miles and the taxes associated, United MileagePlus, LifeMiles & Aeroplan are recommended option for travel between USA and India with miles.
Launch of new Routes:
There are several new non-stop options coming up between the USA and India from Air India, United, and American Airlines. However, award travel availability is sparse for the moment.
Air India and United are the two options available for flying non-stop between the USA and India. There are restrictions and procedures to be followed as these flights are part of the travel bubble and Vandebharat mission. We could still use Miles to fly with these two airlines.
You may consider United MileagePlus, LifeMiles, Aeroplan, or another Star Alliance partner to book these award tickets.
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Editorial Note: Opinions, analysis and any calculations shown are authors alone. Information in this post is not reviewed, approved and endorsed by any airlines, frequent flyer programs or financial institution