The Mrs. and I decided to head home to India for a winter 2014 break. We wanted a quick 2-week trip because we were going back to South-East Asia over Christmas and New Years. I turned to our stash of US Airways Dividend miles that I bought during a great sale on US Airways miles (100% bonus y’all!!). Well, turned out that we got held up for a good 3 months in India and had to do our South-East Asia trip using India as our base. This series will be about our trip to India and back. I’ll be doing a separate report on our trip to Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Singapore from India.
Cathay Pacific 897 Business Class LAX-HKG
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing at Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Pacific 663 Business Class HKG-BOM
Etihad Chauffeur Service and GVK Business Class Lounge, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM), Mumbai, India
Etihad Airways 605 Business Class BOM-AUH
Abu Dhabi US Preclearance Facility
Etihad Airways 151 Business Class AUH-ORD
US Airways First Class ORD-PHX-SNA (the less said the better!)
Booking award flights from the US to India and back
Cathay Pacific using US Airways miles and an unplanned AAdvantage redemption
We had a stash of US Airways Dividend Miles after taking advantage of the lucrative US Airways points purchase and transfer sales. I booked us in Cathay Pacific Business Class LAX-HKG-BOM for 120,000 miles round-trip each. Cathay Pacific award space is not searchable on aa.com. I searched britishairways.com as is outlined here.
We were delayed in India and spent much longer than planned back home. We had to forfeit the return leg of our US Airways redemption on Cathay Pacific (Boo!) It meant that I had to make bookings for our return leg. I had a large enough balance in my AAdvantage account to redeem 2 Business Class tickets from India to the US. I could’ve stretched it to 1 First Class redemption and 1 Business Class (since we were traveling separately anyway!) but decided to save valuable AA miles for another time. Using AAdvantage miles from India to the US meant I was considering travel on one of 3 routes – British Airways via London-Heathrow, Qatar Airways via Doha, or Etihad via Abu Dhabi – if you want to redeem 67,500 miles for Business Class and not more. This is because only a transatlantic itinerary from the Indian Subcontinent/Middle East to the US prices out at 67,500 miles for Business Class. If you want to travel on a transpacific route to the US (Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong or Japan Airlines via Tokyo, or a combination of both), the system prices it out as 2 separate awards – one from India to Asia 1/Asia 2 and the second one from Asia 1/Asia 2 to the US. Region definitions and pricing for AAdvantage awards can be found here. I was dead-set on not flying BA. I really didn’t want to pay taxes and fuel surcharges totaling ~$1,100 per person. It would be cheaper to buy a one-way coach ticket back to the US. Between Qatar and Etihad, I chose Etihad for 2 reasons:
- Qatar Airways doesn’t fly their A380, B787, or A350 to the US yet, which means they have only Business cabins with a 2-2-2 configuration to the United States. Not my preferred configuration for J class.
- I wanted to experience the US Pre-Clearance Facility in Abu Dhabi.
Etihad Airways award space is not searchable on the American Airlines website either. To search space, you will need to use the Etihad Airways website to look for “GuestBusiness” seats. MileValue has a wonderful post on finding award space and booking Etihad awards with AAdvantage miles here. There’s nothing more that I can add to Scott’s post.
I ended up booking BOM-AUH-ORD-PHX-SNA since there was no availability on the AUH-LAX Etihad flight in Business. If you want to fly on Etihad’s new A380, you can also book this itinerary via LHR (like BOM-AUH-LHR-LAX) with the LHR to US leg on AA or BA for the same number of miles; taxes will differ.