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Flights to India - is it worth layover to get FF Miles?

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Flights to India - is it worth layover to get FF Miles?

Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 03:59 PM
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Flights to India - is it worth layover to get FF Miles?

Hello India Travelers,

Life is really odd sometimes, while I am in the midst of planning my first vacation to India (Rajasthan) in January 2007, I find out that I need to travel to Bangalore for work in October. I live in NYC and the flight options to Bangalore are not great, no direct flights. This is my dilemma - I like to fly Virgin because it is a great airline and I get FF miles, but this requires a connection through London and another one in Mumbai via Jet Airways. My other option is Lufthansa connecting in Frankfurt direct to Bangalore, but no FF Miles because I never fly United. I am pretty sure that it is worth 30,000 miles for the extra connection, but I have read on previous posts that 3 hours in an Indian airport is not like anything a westerner is used to. Can anyone of you experienced India travelers provide advice here, am I making the right choice? thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 04:29 PM
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You can fly Emirates non stop from JFK to Duabi and onwards to Bangalore, Dubai is a superb airport for transit, there are 2 Emirates per day non stop from JFK plus another one to Dubai which stops in Hamburg on the way.
That would be a nice flight with good service and a pleasant transit stop or stopover point.

You can also use Air France which operates CDG-BLR as codeshare for Delta, on that route you could get delta miles and the CDG-BLR is non stop am departure from Paris
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 04:31 PM
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If the miles are that important to you, then fly Virgin. Their flights seem to be at off times that could potentially offset the crowds which would contribute to the discomfort of the airports - you should research this. If you happen to be flying business class of course this is no issue.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 04:38 PM
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There are other choices. If you're collecting miles on VS's own Flying Club, you can fly to London, and then fly BA non-stop to BLR, instead of connecting through at BOM.

Or you can go through CDG. Air France fly non-stop CDG-BLR, and you can get miles NYC-CDG on CO or DL.

If you're collecting miles on CO or DL, then you can collect miles the whole way on AF's CDG-BLR as well.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 04:41 PM
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JamesA's Emirates idea is also excellent. You can earn DL or CO miles on EK.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 05:05 PM
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Its a shame you have never flown United, almost the same conditions as an Indian Airport. It would have been a good comparison.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 05:55 PM
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3 hours is fine in an Indian airport; it would be like something like 7 hours that would be a killer as there aren't restaurants or shops (no Cin a Bun!!). With 3 hours, by the time you deplane and walk around, you will have to get back into a security line for your next flight...really I am no fan of Indian airports but 3 hours is absolutely fine. Bring a book and an ipod. Mumbai just privatized its airport and the waiting areas are actually the most modern I have seen. They even have recliners.

Jet Airways is a great airline.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 06:50 PM
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pay to go into a club if you think the time in the airport would be bad....three hours would be far less by the time you make your connection, check in etc....

get the FF miles, are you crazy??
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Old Aug 23rd, 2006, 06:52 PM
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Sorry, DON'T pay to go into a club, they are nothing like what you are used to, a very small room, crowded, with a few chairs, no internet, really there are no clubs in Indian airports. Delhi has at least larger rooms. Perhpas Mumbai will expand but there is nothing at this point, and certainly not anything worth paying for. I don't even go and I am flying business class, I just sit with the hoi polloi...
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Old Aug 24th, 2006, 06:15 PM
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The penny dropped for me on this last night: if you are changing planes in Mumbai to a Jet Airways flight to Bangalore you also have to CHANGE AIRPORTS in Mumbai from the international to the domestic. They are a few miles apart, and takes about 15 minutes by car or bus. Therefore, you will want/need most of that three hours. Also, you will have to go through Immigration first, get your bags, clear Customs, then head to the domestic airport, and check-in for your Jet Airways flight (unless you can convince them in London, where they have a counter, to give you a boarding pass there, but you will have to re-check your bags anyway). For the FF miles it is probably worth the bit of hassle this transfer may be.

There is a free bus transfer service between the international and domestic service, the distance is only about 3 miles, the bus only runs about once an hour, it is a toss up whether you want to take it. Once you have gone through Immigration, gotten your bags and handed the Customs man your little slip of paper, look for signs for the transfer lounge. You can ask someone there how soon the next bus will leave. You will invariably be told "coming soon". This can mean anything from 5 minutes to an hour (welcome to India). You could maybe wait for a while, and if it doesn't show up, consider going back out into the hall and arranging for a pre-paid taxi to take you over to the domestic airport. This would not cost more than US$10 at most and would be worth it IMO. Because there is always a bit of a palaver to check-in for flights. First you have to show your ticket and passport to get IN to the airport, then you have to put your on bags through the screening process (there is usually a longish line for this, and really horrible ones at international airports), then you can go to the check-in counters. For economy check-in there is generally a line. Then there is usually quite a line and a bit of confusion for the security check. All this takes time, so taking a taxi over may be better, just to make sure you can get all this done in the three hours. It should not take more than 1.5 at most, but you never know.

Business class lines for check-in are generally quite quick and are shorter to begin with. One more thing, as I mentioned above, when arriving at any airport, before you check-in you have to put your own bags through the x-ray screening yourself. The lines can often be incredibly long, esp. at the international airports in Delhi and sometimes Mumbai. They can often be out the door. If you are flying business class and the line is really long, you can instead skip this line, go to the check-in, and ask the check-in clerk to send someone over with your bags to screen it. They will send one of their luggage guys do so, who will jump the line (terrible I know but when you see the lines you will want to do it). Sometimes you have to go with them, sometimes they will take it by themselves. I generally tip this guy about 50 Rupees (US$1), not necessary but I am so grateful for not having to stand in the line.


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Old Aug 24th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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cicc...is this true about the clubs....i read one woman's recent report about how she upgraded to bus. class just to get into the club and was so glad that she did that to avoid the chaos....are you sure of your statement....i was going to join a club just for this reason....your info is always so good that i had to reverify this with you....thanks..

bob
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Old Aug 24th, 2006, 07:11 PM
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Well, I have been in the "clubs" in Delhi, Mumbi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, and Kolkata and would not pay to join any of them. Now, that woman reporting may have been glad to get away from the general chaos of people milling around the public areas of the airport, as there sometimes aren't enough seats, esp in domestic airport. I actually think this has improved in the international airports, and if you go to your gate area in international airports, there are usually more than enough seats.

I guess for domestic flights if there is a very long delay, I could see a slight advantage in being able to sit in a quieter area. But I recently spent 3 hours in the "club" in Hyderabad (which was the airport restaurant) waiting on a very delayed flight and was really not any happier there as the place was completely packed, and I had to share a table with 3 other very unhappy business class travellers who were all trying to do work (and who spent most of there time on their phones.) A wooden restaurant seat for 4 hours is not really comfortable, let me tell you....(however, sitting in the main departure gate area probably was not any more comfortable for the 3 hours either. )

On a personal vacation, I WOULD upgrade to business class in India to avoid long check-in lines, to skip the screening line for luggage, to be able to board and de-plane faster and to get better service overall if your flight is delayed or if you miss a connection and want to get on the next flight. All that is worth the business class price, IMO. However, to just to it for the "club" is not worth it.

The problem is greatly exacerbated by the fact that business class flights are always fully booked and so the clubs, which are too small to begin with, are packed before each flights. Also, the "clubs", especially in domestic airports, are more often than not just restaurants in the airports where you sit at a restaurant table and a waiter will bring you the one free drink to which your entrance card entitles you.

In the actual "clubs" which are not restaurants, there is no buffet food spread put out like at clubs you may have been to at other airports, i.e. Bangkok. There is waiter service for drinks only. They sometimes put out a small bowl of chips or nuts by your side, that is it. I don't believe they even have sandwiches, I have never asked. There are generally no PCs with free internet or any place for you to hook up you own PC (except at Air India in Delhi, see below.)

For your itinerary, I can tell you about:

Delhi International – the club for everyone other than Air India are a choice of two very small lounges run by Oberoi or Taj. Often there are not enough seats, you will definitely be sharing a sofa area with lots of other people. There may be one PC there. There are no work stations. There are some restaurant tables which if you are lucky you might get a free one and you can do some work.

Delhi Domestic – the club is part of a restaurant/lounge upstairs. No work stations. Generally quite crowded.

Mumbai – the club is even smaller (it might be a 12 by 12 room), has even fewer seats, no tables. It has no windows and I find it very claustrophobic. There is very little space so if you have carry on luggage, you are hard pressed to find a place to put it.

The only good club IMO is the Air India club in Delhi's international airport, and of course you then have to fly Air India which is a really a non-starter for me. They have a large lounge and several work stations with PCs and free internet service.

I have not been to the club in Jaipur.

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