This “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:
- Cheapest Miles to Hawaii
- Cheapest Miles to Caribbean
- Cheapest Miles to Europe
- Cheapest Miles to East Asia
Chart of miles prices to India and Middle East
|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|
|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|
|Air Berlin||100k – 120k||200k – 240k||OneWorld||SPG|
Distance Based Programs
Example: NYC – LHR – AMM
|ANA||55k||85k||Star Alliance||Amex MR, SPG|
|BA Avios||65k||130k||OneWorld||Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG|
|Asia Miles||85k||115k||OneWorld||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
Example: SFO – LHR – BOM
|ANA||75k||115k||Star Alliance||Amex MR, SPG|
|Asia Miles||95k||140k||OneWorld||Amex MR, Citi TY, SPG|
|BA Avios||100k||200k||OneWorld||Amex MR, Chase UR, SPG|
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
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.
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.
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.