Next stop: India and the Maldives!

In my quest to requalify for Executive Platinum status with American I’m trying to earn as many miles as possible while visiting new destinations as time permits.

I’ve always wanted to visit India, and it just happens to be that American’s longest flight is from Chicago to Delhi. I have eight systemwide upgrades that need to be burned, and since American let’s you burn systemwide upgrades on any fares internationally, I figured I might as well visit some new destinations. The fare I saw available from Miami to Delhi via Los Angeles and Chicago in both directions (take a second to process that) was $1,100. Not to shabby for over 23,000 elite qualifying miles!

My original plan was to just visit Delhi for a few days. I asked a friend who’s a travel agent if he wanted to come along, and he expressed interest. It’s always fun to travel with others, especially to a new destination. Then he said “but if I do India, I’d want to spend more than three days there.” Fair enough.

Fortunately (or unfortunately from the standpoint of getting any work done), we now have a two week itinerary which includes a trip to Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore National Park, Jaipur, and the Maldives. There’s actually a pretty funny story behind why we’re going to the Maldives, but I’ll save that for another time.

While the entire trip is coming together quite nicely, there is one (not-so-minor) detail that’s causing me severe sleep loss: our upgrades from Chicago to Delhi and Delhi to Chicago — coincidentally American’s longest routes — have yet to clear.

Fortunately we have four sneaky contingency plans, since neither of us intend to spend over 15 hours in coach. 😉

Comments

  1. This will be a great trip and I look forward to all your feedback which will be invaluable in helping me plan my trip to India next year for which you’ll be booking the flights.

  2. Lucky, can you share how you arrived at this pricing?

    I can only see AA around $1500 for most dates for US/DEL.

    Delhi is a rough place – it can be very rewarding but needs a adventurous and robust traveler.

    The Taj Mahal is really unique – probably the most UNDER-rated tourist attraction I have ever been to.

  3. Lucky, I have the same question as TJ. How on earth are you finding roundtrip to Dehli for $1100 especially adding in LAX? I’m doing DTW-ORD-DEL-BLR in November the week before Thanksgiving and it cost a whopping $1700!

    TJ, that’s the first I’ve heard someone say the Taj Mahal is UNDER-rated. I’ve usually heard it’s over-rated. There’s actually supposed to be a palace like the Taj Mahal in Delhi but made of clay? that is supposed to be much nicer.

  4. I’m currently in India and visited Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur (off your list). Delhi is huge… you won’t want to spend more than a couple of days. Agra is really one day worth, mostly visiting the Taj Mahal, but the Red Fort is fairly impressive as well.

    Jaipur is… not worth it. Consider going to a much more interesting city/town like Udaipur. Even Pushkar (a “backpacker” and holy town of only 13,000 people) is way more interesting, with its frequent holy music and the holy bathing that’s done constantly.

    Enjoy whatever you decide to do and let us all know about Maldives! I plan on visiting next year.

  5. You will love India–it was one of the best trips I have ever taken and you will be hitting many of the same places I did.

    And don’t worry–internet access is abundant!

    Any fuel dumps at play in the DEL fare? That’s a great deal.

    @nycflyer75: CZ from CAN seems to be your best (and perhaps only) bet.

  6. Hard to say something listed (in some lists) as one of the 7 wonders of the world is underrated. However, it is by far the most beuatiful building in the world that I’ve seen, and I’ve been many, many places.

    If you cans tay at the Starwood (sheraton I think) in Agra, it’s fabulous. The restaurnat at the hotel is better than the famous one (with the same menu) as the one at the Sheraton in Delhi. Amazing service, the best massage chairs I ever experienced, etc.

    If you are looking for a substitue for Jaipur, I’d give Jodhpur the narrow edge over Udaipur.

  7. @ Yaswanth, the Taj is DEFINITELY not over rated. I went there a couple years ago, and was worried that I had built it up too much and was going to be disappointed, but no way…absolutely one of the coolest destinations and most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen in my life. The place blew me away…I could’ve sat in that garden all day long looking at that building.

    The one in Delhi (Humayun’s Tomb) is nice, but doesn’t even come close to the Taj. It’s not in nearly as good a condition, it’s not nearly as serene, and just doesn’t have the “wow” factor that the Taj does.

  8. @nycflyer75: maybe check Aeroflot from SVO or China Eastern from CMB as well. CZ from CAN is likely the best bet, though.

  9. If you’re looking for accommodation in Delhi, I stayed at the brand new Hilton Delhi Janakpuri West and loved it. Got an awesome rate, too, because it was new. Great service, amazing luxe rooms. Located next to a Delhi metro stop.

  10. nycflyer75 — In addition to CZ from CAN, Aeroflot flies to MLE from SVO. Friends recently had success booking JFK-SVO-MLE award tickets through DL.

  11. Ben, when are you actually going? If you’re in India for two weeks I would try Kerala. It would be more interesting than spending a lot of time in Delhi. Delhi is worth a few days, though. The nat’l park you mentioned should be interesting.

    Also, if you’re going from the Maldives back to India to DEL you may or may not have a problem. I think on a tourist visa once you leave India you can’t reenter India for two months. They imposed these restrictions after the Bombay terrorist’s attacks several yrs ago. There are ways around this reentry rule, though.

    Regarding several peoples comments on the Taj Mahal. Good to visit once. WAY OVERRATED. Comments about it being the most beautiful building in the world. Come on its a mausoleum not a palace!

  12. I find it somewhat disconcerting that you’re bothered by the potential of flying in coach when you’re headed for a country with one of the largest slums in the world.

    Seriously, I like your blog and you’ve posted lots of interesting things, but get your priorities in order, because you sound like an overpriveleged whiner at times. Traveling, in the truest sense, should consist of more than cushy flights and nice hotels.

    I don’t mean to be rude–I really don’t–but I really think it might be a good experience for you to “rough it”, just a bit. Don’t let “per-departure beverages”, hot towels, and some nice photos be the only reason for your hobby.

  13. Unlike some other posters, I share your priorities, please keep the focus!

    My only request, more details on the wines!

  14. North western part of India gets most of the tourist crowd but I think the Southern and Eastern parts are the places to go. The beauty of Taj is not just in its looks but it has been there for about 400 years withstanding various battles and it still looks stunning.

    Good luck with your journey and don’t be afraid to try some road side food and sugarcane juice.

  15. @Jeremy

    I’m not saying that one needs to travel as if an indigent. Obviously one cannot–and arguably need not–help ameliorate every problem encountered.

    I really do like reading lucky’s posts, and the allure of five star hotels and world class dining and massages is obviously appealing to me, and I myself indulge, and without guilt.

    So perhaps my initial post was a overly harsh, considering the focus of this blog. My only point was that considering where you’re traveling, I don’t think traveling in coach should be decried so much. It’s not that bad, so just deal with it, and enjoy your travels and the experiences afforded by them.

  16. Check very carefully on the visa situation. We ran into it last year. If you are planning to just be “in transit” on either end of your trip, you should be ok. If you have to go through immigration 2x you are subject to the “discretion” of the official. Remember this is Asia, discretion can be expensive.

  17. Thanks for the comments/feedback, folks! I’m investigating all the suggestions more closely.

    @ Gil — Two of them may or may not be legal, so I think I’ll avoid incriminating myself. Fortunately the return upgrade cleared today, which is the longest flight. Now just sweating out the outbound.

    @ TJ — The fare has since expired, though there was a $500ish base fare out of Miami, and American lets you exceed the MPM assuming you follow certain rules (which I’ll save for another post).

    @ Matthew — Nope, no fuel dumps involved.

    @ Gary — Believe it or not, no Park Hyatt for me.

    @ John — Going in a few weeks (don’t want to mention exact time publicly due to some evil people read this blog, but then again, my itineraries are password protected, so…)

    @ steve — I appreciate the feedback (and I really do mean it) since I realize you’re being sincere. Frankly I’m partly joking (notice the smiley) and partly not. The fact is I’m really excited to see and explore India. That being said, I’ve gotten *used* to flying premium cabins, for better or for worse. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to always be able to game my way into first or business, and if I end up in coach so be it. But when you get used to something in life, it becomes the norm, and it’s tough to fly in anything less. That being said, we’re number two and three on the upgrade waitlist, so I doubt it will even be a factor.

  18. Lucky, how do you find out where you are on an upgrade list? I’ve only been able to find out at the airport.

    Cheers
    Beachfan

  19. @ beachfan @ Carberrie — Perhaps I shouldn’t have posted that, in retrospect. An “in the know” source checked the upgrade waitlist, and that’s where we stand. Don’t think they usually release that info.

  20. I was disturbed by this post. To avoid a long flight segment in coach, you’re actively considering multiple dishonest and possibly illegal ways to avoid flying that segment in coach?

    Maybe you’re making false bookings as Mr Pickles suggested and will cancel them last minute, maybe you’re doing this in some other ways. Maybe legal, maybe not, as you said. It sounds like it would involve cheating American Airlines, which matched you to Platinum status, gave you a fast track to Executive Platinum, and gave you complimentary business class airfare to Argentina and back? Is that how you show “loyalty” to them?

    You’re maybe considering methods that would jump you in the upgrade queue in front of another passenger who should be ahead of you, but maybe a trick will get it for you instead?

    Whatever your tricks or methods, I hope you don’t follow through now or in future. You’re putting your reputation at risk. Your travel agent buddy should also know better. If he gets caught and blacklisted, he’s going to lose his livelihood.

  21. So I did dome searching and a similar fare is available ex-SFO via MIA-ORD-DEL for $1239 with 22.5k miles. Not a great mileage run at 5.5 CPM but hey you get to see India 🙂

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