The Ultimate Guide To United Miles: Part 13 – All The Ways To Get To India!

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United miles are fantastic for booking trips to India for many reasons!

The first reason is that so many Star Alliance partner airlines, such as Lufthansa, have flights to India.  Remember, that you can use United miles to book awards on partner airlines such as Lufthansa!

The second reason is that United allows you to book awards to India via the Pacific or the Atlantic, so you end up having more choices.

This is very useful for flights from the West Coast, since flying to India via Asia is about the same amount of hours as flying via Europe.  In contrast, you have to fly to India via the Atlantic when you book regular awards with American Airlines miles.

United Miles To India

Daraius & Emily at the Taj Mahal

The Ultimate Guide To United Miles Index

The Best tip for Searching on United.com

Don’t forget to change your search results to show you 50 flights (instead of the default) when you search on United.com.  This will show you more flight options which may work for you!

Step 1 – Click On “Advanced Search”

Go to United.com and click on  “Advanced Search” at the bottom of the award search page.

United Miles To India

Step 1 – Click on “Advanced Search”

Step 2 – Change “Number of Flights to Display” To “50”

Click on the drop-down box by the “Number of Flights to Display” and change it from the “Default” to “50

United Miles To India

Step 2- Increase the Number of Flights to Display to 50

You will see MANY more flight options this way!

How To Use The Information In This Post

You could rely on United.com to find you awards seats to India.  And United’s website is pretty good.  But it is unlikely to find every possible option on using United miles to India.

If you’re really committed to finding award seats to India and don’t want to hire an award booking service, you could search for award seats on many of the routes below.  The best way to search is segment-by-segment.

The information below will help you find the long-distance flight to India.  Once you find the long-distance flight to India, you should start searching for flights to your final destination in India and then from your US departure city to the gateway (i.e. where the flight to India departs from the US).

Award Routes to India

We have already gone over the United and their partner airline flight options to Europe, and options to fly to Asia.  To get to India, we first have to go to either Europe or Asia.

And from there to Europe to India, or routes from Asia to India.

Travel within India using miles and points can be difficult because none of the airlines based in India belong to any alliance.  In addition, many airlines have cheap fares to begin with, so it’s usually easier to find an award ticket to a big Indian city.  Then book a paid ticket to smaller Indian cities.

Let’s go over finding award flights from North America to India.

United splits Asia into 3 regions:

  • Central Asia which includes Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • South Asia which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • North Asia which includes China (Mainland), South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan.

Here is the chart for one-way awards between mainland North America and Central Asia, South Asia, and North Asia.

United considers India to be part of “Central Asia.”

United Miles To India

United’s One Way Award Chart From Mainland North America To Central Asia, South Asia, and North Asia

For one-way awards from the US, Alaska, Hawaii or Canada to Central Asia, you will pay:

  • 40,000 miles each way in economy
  • 60,000 miles each way in Business Class
  • 80,000 miles each way in First Class

United Miles to India

1.  Delhi (DEL)

United & their Star Alliance partner airlines, such as Lufthansa, fly to Delhi.

A Day in Delhi

Emily at The Qutub Minar

You can fly on:

United Miles To India

You Can Fly To Delhi On Several Star Alliance Partner Airlines

  • Air China via Beijing (PEK)
  • ANA via Tokyo-Narita (NRT)
  • Asiana via Seoul (ICN)
  • Austrian via Vienna (VIE)
  • Ethiopian via Addis Ababa (ADD)
  • Lufthansa via Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC)
  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)
  • SWISS via Zurich (ZRH)
  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK)
  • Turkish via Istanbul (IST)
  • United via Newark (EWR)

2.  Mumbai (BOM)

Mumbai also has flights on South African Airways to Johannesburg, but it is not convenient for an award ticket from North America to India.

Sights in Bombay

Connie & Judy by the Gateway of India

You can fly to Mumbai on:

United Miles To India

You Can Fly To Mumbai From These Cities

  • Air China via Chengdu (CTU)
  • ANA via Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – All-Business Class flight
  • Lufthansa via Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC)
  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)
  • SWISS via Zurich (ZRH)
  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK) and Phuket (HKT)
  • Turkish via Istanbul (IST)
  • United via Newark (EWR)

3.  Bengaluru (BLR)

You can fly on:

United Miles To India

How to Fly To Bengaluru, Pune & Chennai

  • Air China via Chengdu (CTU)
  • Lufthansa via Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)
  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK)

4.  Chennai (MAA)

You can fly on:

  • Lufthansa via Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)
  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK)

5.  Pune (PNQ)

You can fly on:

  • Lufthansa via Frankfurt (FRA)

The Lufthansa flight (by their Privatair subsidiary) to Pune runs 3 times per week.  It’s a good option if you  want to visit the other cities near Mumbai but don’t want to deal with Mumbai traffic and the 4 hour drive to Pune!

United Miles To India

PrivatAir Flight from Pune to Frankfurt (With a Fuel Stop in Bucharest)

Award availability is generally easy to get in both coach & Business Class, but the plane is small for a long-haul flight and there is a short fuel stop on the flight from Pune to Frankfurt.

6.  Kolkata (CCU)

You can fly on:

  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)
  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK)

7.  Ahmedabad (AMD)

You can fly on:

  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)
  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK)

8.  Hyderabad (HYD)

You can fly on:

  • Thai via Bangkok (BKK)
United Miles To India

Singapore Airlines And Thai Airlines Can Get You To Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Kochi

9.  Kochi (COK)

You can fly on:

  • Singapore Airlines via Singapore (SIN)

Note that you can’t book this flight with United miles because it is a Silk Air flight which can only be booked with Singapore Airline miles.

Booking Flights Via Europe To India

The United website is pretty good at finding award seats.  Usually, you can just enter in your origin and destination and it will find a number of routes on several airlines to get you to where you want to go.  Don’t forget to extend the search results to 50 flights!

Sometimes, you may have to search segment-by-segment.  Let’s look an example of searching segment-by-segment.

I want to fly from Washington, DC to Delhi via Europe.  We know how to get to Europe.  Now we need to figure out how to get from Europe to India.  

To see what award seats are available to India, we can search from Europe to India to see what connections we can come up with.

1.  Via Frankfurt

I’m lazy, so I usually start by searching for award seats from Frankfurt to Delhi, India on United.com

That’s because Frankfurt has so many flights that go to India and flights that connect to other European cities that connect to India.  This way, United.com can do most of the work for me!

Step 1 – Search For Award Seats From Frankfurt To Delhi

United Miles To India

Step 1 – Search For Award Seats From Frankfurt To Delhi

I found 4 flights to choose from including some in economy and some in business class.

United Miles To India

My Search Resulted In 1 Economy Flight And 3 Business Class Flights

TIP: If you are looking for a Business Class or First Class award, always look for the “Mixed Cabin” warning.  Mixed Cabin means your flight will be in two different classes, more likely Business Class AND Economy.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong in flying in economy, but you are charged the business class price.

In this case, we see that the longer flight from Germany to India is in Economy, so we don’t want to pay a Business Class price if we are only getting business class for less than half the journey!

United Miles To India

Mixed Cabin Flight – Business Class AND Economy

Let’s say that you want to fly Business Class, so we’re going to book an award that does not have a Mixed Cabin.  We’re going to book an award flight that connects to the SWISS flight from Zurich to Delhi in Business Class on January 21, 2013.

United Miles To India

To Fly In Business To Delhi, I Need To Get To Zurich

Step 2 – Search For Seats From The US To Europe A Day Before Your Europe Flight To India

I look for a flight from Washington, DC to Zurich that leaves me enough time to connect to the flight from Zurich to Delhi.

United Miles To India

Search For Seats From The US To Europe A Day Before Your Europe Flight To India

I find a Saver Award (low-level award) in Business Class From Washington, DC to Zurich.

United Miles To India

My Search Result For Flights From Washington, DC To Zurich

And then find a flight from your departure airport, say Austin, to Washington, DC.

Step 3 – Use The “Multiple Destinations” Option To Correctly Price Your Award Ticket

If we booked each flight separately, it would cost us 100,000 miles.  That’s because you will pay for 2 award tickets – 1 from the US to Europe and the 2nd from Europe to India.

You don’t have to book these as 2 separate award tickets and can book them as 1 award for 60,000 miles from the US to India!

Now that we have found flights that can work, we can plug in these flights into the “Multiple Destinationsoption on the United website.

United Miles To India

Step 3 – Use The “Multiple Destinations” Option To Correctly Price Your Award Ticket

Now your Business Class award ticket from Washington, DC to Delhi prices at 60,000 miles + ~ $52.

Much better than 100,000 miles for 2 separate award tickets!

United Miles To India

Step 3 – Business Class To India For 60,000 Miles

When we searched for the ticket, we searched US to Europe and then from Europe to India.

The US to Europe search showed Business Class award seats for 50,000 miles (the price from North America to Europe).  The Europe to India search also showed Business Class award seats for 50,000 miles (the price for Europe to South Asia).

However, since we are only connecting in Europe, we can pay the rate for North America to India, which is 60,000 miles, not 100,000 miles in business class!

Booking Flights Via Asia To India

Let’s try booking a ticket from San Francisco to Mumbai via Asia in Business Class.

TIP: When searching for flights to Asia, make sure to search a day before and a day after your intended travel dates.  This is because many flights to Asia depart around midnight from the west coast.

A flight that is just before midnight will show up on a separate day compared to a flight that is just after midnight.

Step 1 – Search For Flights From The US To Asia

Every major city from the list at the beginning of this post has flights on either Singapore Airlines from Singapore, or Thai Airways from Bangkok.  These will likely be our entry point or gateways into India if we use United miles to travel to India from Asia.

We can search for direct flights through these gateways.

Because it takes more than 1 flight to get from the US to Singapore or Bangkok, let’s search for the flight from the US to Asia first.  See this post for all the ways to get to Asia!

We’ll note in which cities the connections occur (like Seoul or Tokyo) in case any of them match cities that also connect to India.  For example, you could fly from the US to Tokyo and then connect directly on Japanese airline ANA to India!

Go to United.com and search for flights from the US to Asia.  Don’t forget to extend the search results to 50 flights.

United Miles To India

Step 1 – Search For Flights From The US To Asia

After searching, United will display all the possible connections from San Francisco to Singapore.  Be sure to scroll all the way down!

With our search from San Francisco to Singapore, we found Business Class seats available from San Francisco to Taipei and Taipei to Singapore.

United Miles To India

Our Search Shows Business Class Seats From San Francisco To Singapore With A Connection In Taipei

Step 2 – Search For Seats From Singapore To Mumbai

Now I search for seats from Singapore to Mumbai.  I write down what time I land in Singapore (12:05 pm) because I need to find a flight from Singapore leaving after that time!

I like to leave a long time between flights just in case the first flight is delayed.  I’d rather stay an extra 2 hours in the airport than miss a flight!

United Miles To India

Step 2 – Search For Seats From Singapore To Mumbai

I found Business Class available from Singapore to Mumbai at 6:10 pm on November 28. This flight departs 6 hours after the flight from San Francisco to Singapore arrives.

Because I am allowed a connection up to 24 hours on international itineraries, this is a valid connection.  And 6 hours is more than enough time to connect between flights in Singapore.

United Miles To India

I Find A Business Seat From Singapore To Mumbai That Departs 6 Hours After My Flight To Singapore Arrives

Step 3 – Use The “Multiple Destinations” Search

Now that I have found available flights from San Francisco to Singapore and from Singapore to Mumbai, now I just need to search for the award all together.

If you don’t live in San Francisco, you can use the same steps to find award seats to San Francisco!

I can do this by using the “Multiple Destinations” award search

United Miles To India

Step 3 – Click On “Multiple Destinations”

On the Multiple Destinations page, I enter the same cities and dates for which I found award seats earlier.

I search San Francisco to Singapore on November 27 for the first flight segment.

Then I search Singapore to Mumbai on November 28 for the second flight segment.

United Miles To India

I Enter Flight Searches By Segments

Be sure to select “Award Travel” at the bottom of the page before you click “Search!”

United Miles To India

Select “Award Travel” And Click “Search”

After clicking “Search,” we should see the flights we had found earlier.  We’ll first select the EVA Air flights from San Francisco to Taipei to Singapore.

United Miles To India

Select The Business Class Seats From San Francisco To Singapore With A Connection In Taipei

After selecting the flights to Singapore, we select the flight to Mumbai.

Notice how the search only shows flights that are valid connections!

United Miles To India

Select The Business Class Seat From Singapore To Mumbai

Using the Multiple Destinations feature, I was able to price out a one-way Business Class award from San Francisco to Mumbai via Taipei and Singapore for 60,000 United miles and only ~$12 in taxes!

United Miles To India

You Can Fly From The US To South Asia In Business Class For 60,000 Miles

TIP:  You may need to search flights one segment at a time to get from your hometown to your destination.  If a flight shows as available when you search it separately, it should be available when you search in multiple destinations.

TIP:  While the United Multiple Destinations feature is useful, it can’t handle all requests.  If you can’t book an award online, you could try booking the award over the phone by calling 800-864-8331 and feeding the agent the segments one at at time.

There is a $25 fee for booking an award on the phone, but it is well worth it to me!

Bottom Line

You can use United miles to fly to India on United or on one of the many Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa.

You can route from the US through Europe OR Asia to get to India and it will only cost 40,000 miles one-way in coach or 60,000 miles in business class.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

30 Responses to The Ultimate Guide To United Miles: Part 13 – All The Ways To Get To India!

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  8. Daraius, you have put yourself lightyears ahead of other blogs first with the Lufthansa Miles & More series and now with the Ultimate Guide to using United Miles. The information is clear, concise, well illustrated and quite frankly better than anything else I’ve come across on the web. Keep up the good work!

  9. This is more good stuff. However, I have a question about that SIN-COK flight, since it doesn’t show up at routemap.staralliance.com! If I search for it on Kayak, I can see, e.g., SQ 5466 leaving SIN Apr 5 10:45 PM arriving COK Apr 6 12:40 AM. So far so good. But there’s zero availability for it in United (or ANA).

    That’s because SQ 5466 is operated by Silkair, and Silkair is NOT in the *A. Which means you cannot redeem United miles for that flight! (I’ve been trying to figure the best way to get to Kerala for a few months now, and desperately wish that flight WERE available with my miles…)

    Are there any other “operated by” airlines that aren’t in the *A that would negate one’s ability to use MP miles on them?

  10. @pcg – you’re right, SilkAir is not a part of Star Alliance … you can use Singapore Krisflyer miles to COK but not United miles. But if you’re trying to get to COK, you can use Alaska miles on Emirates, AA miles on Etihad or Qatar, AA miles to Kuala Lumpur and then connect with BA Avios on Malaysia, or Delta miles on Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, Star Alliance (the largest alliance) has no service to Cochin!

  11. D- why arent you noting that very shortly flying partners on non united metal will skyrocket the mileage amounts..

  12. You can only use KrisFlyer miles for redeeming on SilkAir.

  13. @ASW – Hope it helps you find some routes to India!

    @pcg @Amol (@PointsToPointB) @Abhinav G. – I’ll update the post to mention that you can’t book SilkAir flights with United miles.

  14. @mike – I’ve written about it previously and will update the series with the changes and also have a post reminding folks to book awards before the rates increase!

  15. Thanks for another great post…I was trying to book award travel to multiple cities in India from Seattle such that its possible to get the “free” domestic one-way as well, but the routes that I see are flying through Europe when going and through Tokyo when returning. Given this “round-the-world” situation, will United still allow me to get the free one-way (either to Hawaii or the Caribbean)?

    Current routes I see are like SEA-FRA-BLR and CCU-BKK-NRT-SEA

    Your expoert opinion appreciated!

  16. Amol (@PointsToPointB)

    @ Roy — you can. I’ve done LAX to India via the Pacific, and then India to LAX via the Atlantic. Then I had a free one-way to Hawaii. Technically more than round-the-world :D

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  21. My dad flew to India on united once via Europe. The lady asked us if he had a visa. Guess she had no idea about the rules. But sometimes I wonder if we need to have visas at different stopover countries to travel these routes?

  22. Daraius

    This is amazing information, but have you ever got luck to find turkish award to india on uniteds website

  23. @Frugal-sara – Most Americans don’t need visas for transiting countries, but you should always check before traveling.

    @sachin – I haven’t had much luck lately with Turkish award seats to India.

  24. Thanks for the valuable information. But when I type my search on united.come and use award miles. I get the option “85,000” plus $5 to fly to India from Washington DC (IAD) airport)…ONE WAY. It does not matter which city I put, its merely the same. And I am using any month from June 2014 to Dec 2014.
    Am I doing something wrong? Why am I having to spend many more miles to go to India.
    It’s charging me 170, 000 return ticket from IAD to Mumbai, in economy class.

  25. @Vikram – Which class are you flying? You may be seeing the more higher priced awards.

  26. have the prices gone up since you posted this? i’m looking for flights from JFK to CCU on various dates and the business class tix are all 80,000 points each way (not to mention they all have at least 2 layovers and total 45 hours!). btw, thanks for this website, your info is awesome!!

  27. I think they closed the multiple destination loophole. Everything I have checked either gets the error message or is more miles than simply booking one way

  28. As of today, August 26th, I’m afraid to report that none of those cool freebies actually exist out there — exactly like what happened to AA earlier this year. I spent a few hours today trying but to no avail.
    In general United’s availability is not really the best in class (to put it mildly) !!!
    I will say, however, that Chase’s 50K, annual fee waiver plus $50 statement credit is a great deal right now!!!!!

  29. I did find, finally, after trying a lot, 2 open jaws and 1 stop over: from MIA to FRA(1 week stop over), then FRA to DUB; return from Arlanda, Sweden to SAN. Thanks for the extremely priceless tips and tricks!!!!!

  30. Daraius,

    Many of your readers will appreciate, if you could update this post with the current mileage requirements. Thank you.

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