Rajasthan flights - Is this realistic?

Old Dec 7th, 2006, 06:17 PM
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Rajasthan flights - Is this realistic?

Revised itinerary for Dec '07 has us spending 4 days in Delhi the second week in Dec., then 9 days in Bhutan. Day 10 fly Paro (Bhutan) to Delhi, arriving Delhi 12:15 pm. Is it realistic to book on an onward flight at 1:45 pm from Delhi to Udaipur? We'll have to get from the international airport to domestic airport.
It seems a waste of vacation time and extra wear and tear to either stay overnight near the Delhi airport or drive up to an hour (acording to guide books) to get into the city only to drive back to airport the next day (with little to no time to enjoy any sights or much wandering in Delhi) to catch this flight. Or do I just need to accept that this is how India works?
The only advantage to overnighting in Delhi is that we could take the 12:15 flight to Jodhpur )instead of the 1:45 to Udaipur). After 2-3 days around Jodhpur, drive to Udaipur and days later fly from Udaipur back to Delhi (depart 7:40 am, arrive 9:45 am) and easily connect with an 11:30 am flight to Varanasi. Yes?
Unfortunately, we have limitations in our flexibility. We'll have to spend our time in Delhi before Bhutan and Bhutan needs to be 12/13-12/23 in order to get the Bhutan itinerary to work, given the dates of the Trongsa festival and the National Day celebration we want to attend.
Thanks in advance for your savvy advice.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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IMO you will be very hard pressed to get from the gate, through the Immigration line, get your bags, get through the Customs line, find a taxi (the best would be to have pre-arranged a car from your earlier Delhi hotel or driver), get over to the domestic airport, get into the airport (there is often a line), screen your bags (there is often another line), get through the check-in line (going business class would help a lot, lines are a lot shorter) and then get through what could be a long security line to get to your gate -- all in 1.5 hours.

Itís not so much how ďIndia worksĒ as the fact that 1.5 hours is not a lot of time in any airport between an international and domestic flight, because Immigration and baggage claim and re-checking in are going to take time. I donít know that I would try this at JFK myself.

This of course would only be possible if your flight from Bhutan is bang on time. Even like a 10 minute delay is going to make a difference. While fewer of the big long-haul planes arrive in the international airport during the daylight hours, itís still a busy airport at all times. You may also be helped by the fact that your flight TO Udaipur could be delayed in taking off...but personally I would not try it.

Also, are they really taking bookings a year out for flights, and are they really sure of the flight times at this point? They may change a bit by then, and this could make a difference to your itinerary, even if they changed by only 30 minutes or so. Can you wait a bit on the flights, it seems unusual that you would need to book so far out.
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 07:54 PM
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you could book it and hope for a good day but often there is a fog problem in delhi at that time of month and flights are very low and often late or cancelled
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Old Dec 7th, 2006, 08:14 PM
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Why not take a night train instead of a flight? The Mewar express leaves Delhi at 19:00 and gets to Udaipur at 7:00, and has both 1AC and 2AC berths. You should have plenty of time to get from the airport to the station.
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Old Dec 8th, 2006, 10:11 PM
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I can't dispute Cierone's clearly spelled out logic. Thanks C. I guess you'd recommend driving into Delhi and overnighting?
I'm a bit concerned about an overnight train. I'm 61, husband 69. Sharing a sleeping compartment and getting up and down to the bathroom (especially on an upper berth) doesn't sound fun or restful.
I'm not really concerned about booking air this early but I'm reading on this forum that popular (and especially small) properties book up far in advance at Christmas time so I wanted to secure hotel reservations.
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Old Dec 9th, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Yes, I take your point about the trains. I'm now pushing 60, and am somewhat less enthusiastic about getting in and out of the top bunk than when I was younger. I don't know how to ensure you get a bottom bunk, and in the two-berth 1AC compartment one of you would have to take the top berth. 1AC is definitely restful though - populated by business and government type men in white salwar suits, mostly interested in getting a good night's sleep.
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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I would not drive all the way into Delhi, I would overnight near the airport, there are several good hotels. You donít want to deal with Delhi traffic for one night in and out again to the airport. Once settled in the hotel, if you wanted to get a car and driver for the afternoon you could do some sightseeing in south Delhi if you wanted and have dinner in the south delhi area as well. Or if you stay someplace like the Trident Hilton, you could just relax at the spa and by their pool (not quite swimming weather but very pleasant to sit outdoors in the sunshine) for the afternoon and recover from the Bhutan trip. A hotel in the Sawday book which I find very interesting is Tikli Bottom at http://www.tiklibottom.com/, this would be outside of Delhi and might be a nice change for one night.

Hotels do get booked up, but I donít know that they are going to take a booking a year out, I think 6 months is fine.

I still would hold off a bit on booking flights, as flight times and/or flights may be added that may make this trip easier.

Also, have you considered doing your international flights into and out of Bangkok, and then going into Bhutan from Bangkok? There is easy service to Bhutan from there. You can also get to Delhi, could do your India itinerary and then return to Bangkok for the return flight home. If you can do an ďopen jawĒ international flight, perhaps you can fly into Bangkok, go to Bhutan, then to Delhi, then do your India itinerary and go back home from Delhi from there?

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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 09:40 PM
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Cicerone, your suggestion about flying LA to Bangkok then fly to Bhutan and return home from Delhi. I started to look in to that a few weeks ago and couldn't find any airline that was linked to the flyer programs of American, Continental, Delta or United that did this route. I was just starting my research and I might have just relied on info given by the flyer programs and not not followed up with checking each website individually. If you know which airlines do this route, I'd love to know. I can begin calling in mid January to try to get BC seats with miles.
Thanks.
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 09:49 PM
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Most Indian domestic airlines require that you check in at least 45 minutes or so in advance, else your ticket is canceled. Having just a 1.5 hours between the international and domestic flight in 2 different airports is cutting too short. Even my American airline didn't allow the 1.5 hr connection time between the international and national portions. They made me wait at Newark for 5 hours instead!

Cicerone's suggestions sound reasonable. Good luck!
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Old Dec 10th, 2006, 10:50 PM
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If you are using miles for free flights or upgrades, you may have to use TWO different programs/airlines to do this routing, which may be good if you have a good bit of miles in different programs. You may also have to pay for a one-way flight between Bangkok and Delhi, which may not cost you that much.

I donít think anyone has links with Druk, the Bhutan carrier, so I think you will have to pay for those flights yourself.

I know that Thai (Star Alliance) has non-stop service between LAX and Bangkok and between Bangkok and Delhi, so you should be able to use United miles to get Thai to Bangkok and then on to Delhi. (I even see on Thaiís schedule that they have a flight between Bangkok and Varanasi, which might be a very good choice to get to or from Varanasi. Itís a code share with Jet Airways, an excellent local Indian airline, but I assume you can use your miles on it. (I donít know if Jet is now part of Star Alliance, if so, they have service into London and Singapore from Delhi.).

Singapore Airlines (Delta Partner) has service to both Bangkok and Delhi so you may be able to use that airline for the international flights, and then Thai or another local Asian airline for flights between Bangkok and India.

Lufthansa (Star Alliance) has service into both Delhi and Bangkok as well, as does KLM and Emirates, although these airlines will probably route your through Europe and the Middle East, which may be a longer flight from LA than if you went via the Pacific.

Bangkok is a pretty major hub so if you did not mind changing planes, you should also be able to get to Delhi by taking Malaysian Air (via KL, I think they are both a partner with Delta and American), Singapore Air (via Singapore) or Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong, they are a One World partner), albeit these would be longer flights but for a free flight and if it works better with your India schedule it might be worth it.

From Delhi, I know that Continental has non-stop service from Delhi to the US (but to Newark). See the above carriers for other suggestions for flights from Delhi.

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