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Cheapest Miles to India & the Middle East

India- Agra- Taj Mahal- 2This “Cheapest miles” series is a comprehensive series I’ve been doing on most every mileage program (and listing their transfer partners) in order to find the best prices. Here is a comprehensive chart where on the left you’ll find the frequent flyer program to use miles for, and the prices in miles for economy and business to the Middle East and India. All prices are roundtrip from the USA.

If you want to see the posts in this series so far, here are the other links:

Chart of miles prices to India and Middle East

Economy Business Alliance Transfers From
Virgin Elevate 60k 120k – 140k Amex MR (2:1)
Singapore 75k – 105k 115k – 195k Star Alliance Amex MR, Chase UR, Citi TY, SPG
Alitalia 80k 100k – 120k SkyTeam Amex MR, SPG
US Airways 80k 120k OneWorld SPG
Air France 80k 200k SkyTeam Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
United 80k – 85k 160k Star Alliance Chase UR
Korean Air 80k – 100k 120k – 170k SkyTeam Chase UR
Alaska 80k – 100k 125k – 140k SPG
Lufthansa 80k – 100k 135k – 185k Star Alliance SPG
Air Canada 80k – 100k 150k – 165k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
Avianca 85k 156k Star Alliance
AA 90k 135k OneWorld SPG
Air Berlin 100k – 120k 200k – 240k OneWorld SPG

 

Distance Based Programs

Example: NYC – LHR – AMM

ANA 55k 85k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
JAL 60k 90k OneWorld SPG
BA Avios 65k 130k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 70k 200k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)
Asia Miles 85k 115k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG

 

Example: SFO – LHR – BOM

ANA 75k 115k Star Alliance Amex MR, SPG
JAL 90k 120k OneWorld SPG
Asia Miles 95k 140k OneWorld Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG
BA Avios 100k 200k OneWorld Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG
LAN 200k 400k OneWorld SPG (1:1.5)

 

Difference in Prices

We’re looking at a wide range of destinations from Israel, Dubai, the Caucasus, and India. So you’ll often have two different prices with each program, one for the “Middle East” and one for “India” – although “India” often includes Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In general, the higher price is India and the lower price is the Middle East. There are, however, a couple of exceptions in business class. For example, I list the business class price using Alitalia miles as 100k – 120k. In this rare case, the 100k is India and the 120k is the Middle East. If I’m not mistaken, that’s certainly the cheapest flight to India.

But except for two airlines that I’m about to list, the prices are pretty straight forward and the ranges in prices would be the difference in regions. There are no off-peak awards or special prices for this long haul.

 

Using Singapore Miles

You may notice a large range in prices for Singapore flights, and that’s because Singapore has a different award chart for partners than they do for their own flights. The chart could have read like this:

Miles for Singapore flights:

  • 75k – 90k for economy
  • 115k – 145k for business class

Miles for Star Alliance partners:

  • 75k – 105k for economy
  • 115k – 195k for business class

 

Using Alaska Miles

Another wide range are the prices for Alaska Miles. Alaska Airlines isn’t technically in an alliance but it has a number of partnerships. For whatever reason its award prices vary for each and every partner. So in this case I’ll list the prices for each airline you can redeem on when using Alaska Miles to the Middle East and India.

Prices listed by airline for economy/business:

  • KLM = 80k/140k
  • BA = 100k/140k
  • Cathay 100k/125k
  • Delta 85k/140k
  • Emirates = 85k/145k/180k
  • Korean 100k/140k

 

Flying Blue’s odd definition of Europe

Last October I set out to make the first complete Flying Blue award chart and along the way I was testing different regions to see what the price would be and what the region definitions are.

In the process I noticed that Israel – along with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya – all priced the same as Europe at 50,000 miles for a roundtrip. So this doesn’t help people going to India or Dubai, but if you are going to Israel this is the cheapest way to do it. Plus, Flying Blue is a transfer to Amex and Citi.

Read more: Best use of Flying Blue miles

 

Stopovers with AA to save miles

American Airlines has officially eliminated stopovers from award tickets but there is a way to kind of “make your own”. It’s not really much of a trick, it’s just booking two separate tickets, but amazingly, during off-peak season it’s actually cheaper to stopover in Europe than it is to book a ticket directly.

Using AA miles to India/Middle East is 45,000 in economy.

AA miles to Europe from Oct 15 to May 15 is 20,000 AA miles. Europe to India/Middle East anytime is 20,000 AA Miles. Total that’s 40,000 AA miles each direction, if your Europe flight is within the off-peak time.

I have an entire post on the concept: Hacking American Airlines’ Routing Rules

 

Fuel Surcharges

Clearly if you live on the East coast, distance based programs like ANA can work out really well. The trouble is always fuel surcharges with those. Paying $600+ is not worth the savings. But it’s the same trouble with a number of programs that pass on fuel surcharges at all. Singapore, ANA, JAL, BA Avios, and most any program is going to pass on fuel surcharges which is insane.

This is why I beat the same drum of United and AA/US Air which don’t pass on fuel surcharges (except when redeeming AA/US Air miles on British Airways).

Still, if you want to use those miles make sure you redeem on an airline that doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges.

Read more: Master Chart of Avoiding Airlines that Pass on Fuel Surcharges

 

Conclusion

The other thing that can make a ticket better besides the price are stopovers. Easily turn your trip to India into a trip to India and Europe, or a trip to India and SE Asia. Without charging more miles, stopovers allow you to stop in at least one more destination for as long as you want. So I’ll leave you with another recommendation.

Read more: Complete List of Airline Stopover Rules

And if you’re completely new to some of these programs, don’t worry. Let me also leave you with another post to know how to find award tickets, and remember that you can always call to book.

Read more: Master Chart of What Sites Search Airline Award Availability

I know there are many people who travel from the US to India on a regular basis so I really hope this post is helpful to those people in particular, as well as people who just want to visit India and the Middle East.

Related Posts:

25 Comments

  1. Air France to TLV is 50K

    Reply
    • Thanks Tom! Went back and added that and my original post on Flying Blue.

      Reply
    • Just starting to get into the world of travel with points. I need to go to israel this summer, we are a family of 5. Is this article still valid? I can still find 50k flights to Tel Aviv? Which is the best credit card to sign up for to accumulate as many points as possible? Thanks for any help you can provide

      Reply
  2. I’m confused by “Virgin Elevate.” Isn’t that just the name of Virgin America’s frequent flier program? I don’t think you can book int’l travel with Virgin America. Should that be Virgin Atlantic (which is an Amex partner)? Or am I missing something? Thanks.

    Reply
  3. I concur with the insane fuel surcharges to India. So I ended up redeeming the miles for upgrades rather than the trip.

    Reply
  4. Drew, I’d also add DL at 80k/140k Y/J, with access to VS without surcharges. The lack of a stopover is obviously a drawback.

    Reply
    • Good point. I thought I figured that out elsewhere that it would be possible to book Delta from US to India and avoid the fuel charges.

      Why is a stopover not possible in this case?

      Reply
  5. Drew,
    Wonderful & useful post. Your posts are so original. Most of the other bloggers just want “credit card links”. They don’t offer much originality. You are a breath of fresh air!
    BTW, can you do a “compilation” post of how to use award miles to get to the “World’s top 20 most sought after destinations”? That will help us a lot.
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  6. I’ll admit to being a points newbie, but I wanted to say that this is the first resource that I’ve come across that helps me evaluate and compare redemption options. As others have noted, most travel blogs just shamelessly post credit card affiliate links. The rest of the time, they just brag about how they scored a trip to Fiji using some obscure promotion, etc. and it just seems like black magic. This is really helpful, thanks!!

    Reply
  7. Useful, as usual. By the way, applied for Club Carlson card for my wife through your link and got approved. Just a small token of appreciation for all the wonderful content you provide.

    Reply
    • Oh my goodness, I didn’t even know I had the card now. I told someone I didn’t. So a double thank you! Kumar, I really appreciate your support and just the continuing interest and comments. Keeps me going.

      Reply
    • You are most welcome, Drew. You deserve many more clicks for all the excellent content you provide. Whenever i could i will be clicking through you. By the way, first i couldnt locate Club Carlson card under Hotel cards list that you had but then i didnt lose hope and clicked on the US Bank cards and there it was :)

      Reply
  8. This series is great.

    The key is to keep these pages updated so we all just come back here 😉

    I sent Kumar to you, you are welcome :-)

    Reply
    • Thanks. Yea, I need to make a note everytime a deval happens to go back. The problem with blogs is that in a month… no one will ever see this post again, lol. But I’d like to make it more a feature and maintain it.

      Thanks for Kumar. 😀

      Reply
  9. I believe it’s 70k Flexperks points to India too, and you can choose any carrier you wish and includes taxes and fees (but not luggage charges).

    Reply
  10. Drew,
    I’ve United miles & want to fly to Nepal. The United search always displays something like Chicago-Frankfurt-Istanbul-Nepal or Chicago-Delhi-Nepal.. I want to avoid India as connection. How do I fly via Hong Kong or Singapore or Thailand to Nepal? Please help!! Thanks

    Reply
  11. Hello Drew,
    Big fan of your blog. I am planning a trip to Bangladesh next year from Atlanta for 2 persons. We will fly economy and flexible to fly anytime. What airlines do you think will be cheapest to fly there. We will sign up with the credit card offers accordingly. Thank you a lot and I appreciate your honest and informative posts.

    Reply
  12. More outstanding work, Drew. Thank you. I’ll echo what others have mentioned above that your blog is a breath of fresh air, full of explicit suggestions.

    One question: Are these amounts of miles basically true in reverse as well? I usually start in Delhi and book round trips to DTW. I guess if there is a big price difference maybe it would make sense to shift my schedule – I mean book a one-way ticket to DTW and then begin booking round trips that originate from the US. That would be much trickier to coordinate dates but maybe worthwhile. What do you think?

    Reply
  13. I tried looking up award tickets to India on Alitalia Airlines. But in their award ticket booking page, the ‘From’ ‘To’ dropdowns do not list ANY destination in India.

    So where did you see the 100K business flights to India ? Or am i doing something wrong ?

    BTW, I think your website is so much better than the other leading travel websites for new-to-miles-game folks. Great work!

    Reply
  14. Drew,

    Has this post been updated to be consistent with the major devaluations and mileage policy changes with a number of airlines in the last 12 months ? wondering if these numbers are still true ?

    thanks,

    Reply
  15. Any chance you’re going to update this series ? It was very useful in the past.
    Also, any plans to look at good use of AirBerlin TopBonus points ?
    Cheers.

    Reply
  16. Drew,
    Need your suggestion on which Airline Partner program I should use to get more miles when I am flying to India in Emirates. So when I fly to Europe this coming December I can utilize that miles. I’ve following mileage account.
    Chase Sapphire Reserve,
    United MileagePlus,
    SKYPASS,
    Emirates Skywards,
    American Airline,
    Etihad Guest

    Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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