As I mentioned in the Introduction Post, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are great points to stockpile because they are so versatile. Chase URs are getting a little more difficult to earn thanks to Chase’s 5/24 Rule, but if you already have the points or are new to the credit card game, they can be quite useful for getting you to India!
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Introduction – Getting To India Using Your MRs, URs, TYPs or Starpoints
Part I – Getting To India Using Your MRs
Part II – Getting To India Using Your URs
Part III – Getting To India Using Your TYPs
Part IV – Getting To India Using Your SPG Starpoints
Chase offers only one personal card that allows for the transfer of Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners – the Sapphire Preferred card. Chase is pretty strict with their approvals for this card, so if you have picked up more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months, chances are good you will be denied if you apply for this card, so plan accordingly/carefully. Chase also offers the business Ink credit card, which has been offering some great sign up bonuses lately.
Now that you know how to earn the URs, the more complicated process is how to use those hard earned URs to get you to India!
Your URs will transfer to 7 different airlines across all 3 major airline alliances. Those airlines include:
|Airline||Alliance||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Korean Air||SkyTeam||1:1||Same day|
|Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)||SkyTeam||1:1||Same day|
|British Airways||OneWorld||1:1||Same day|
|Singapore Airlines||Star Alliance||1:1||Same day|
|United||Star Alliance||1:1||Same day|
|Virgin Atlantic||N/A||1:1||Same day|
As I said before, the transfer times are just an approximation based upon data points I could find (as well as personal experiences), but it is important to be cognizant of these transfer times when you are planning your award booking(s).
Also keep in mind that you should always be looking at the paid ticket prices for tickets through the Chase UR portal – especially if you are looking to fly economy class – as your URs can be redeemed towards a paid ticket.
Another caveat is that although I will be including general advice for getting to India on your URs, your home airport will play an important role in finding availability or determining cost. For example, since British Airways operates under a distance based award chart, the cost for someone traveling from the East Coast is generally going to be higher than the cost for someone traveling from the West Coast. I will also assume for purposes of this post that you would be flying into Delhi (DEL).
Korean Air is a SkyTeam alliance member, which means you can redeem your SkyPass miles for travel on Air France, KLM, China Southern and Korean Air flights to India.
Korean Air uses a two-tier system where award tickets solely on Korean Air flights are one rate, and award tickets on partners are another rate. Both the Korean Air specific and partner specific award charts have India in the same award zone – Southwest Asia.
For itineraries solely on Korean Air flights, Korean Air operates under a peak/non-peak season award chart. Those dates are very specific and depend on where you are flying so you are better off checking out the chart here.
A roundtrip for flights operated solely by Korean Air between the U.S. and India will cost you 95k/140k miles in economy, 170k/255k miles in business and 210k/315k miles in first class. The rates reflect off-peak/peak dates. One-way awards are allowed at half of the aforementioned rates.
For a roundtrip award ticket operated by partner airlines between the U.S. and India, you can expect a cost of 100k miles in economy, 170k miles in business class and 230k miles in first class. Keep in mind that Korean Air does not allow for one-way awards on partner redemptions.
You are also allowed one stopover on a one-way award ticket and two stopovers on a roundtrip award ticket.
While Korean Air Skypass miles generally offer pretty good value, that is really only the case for redemptions during off-peak dates between the U.S. and India. To complicate matters further, it can be difficult to work with Korean Air. If you are planning to use your miles to book an award ticket for another person, that other person has to be a family member (mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, wife, husband or child). You will also need to call in to Korean Air to book your partner award and the process is somewhat arduous. I would strongly recommend that you call in to make sure space is available and then place a hold on your award ticket(s) before transferring your URs to your Skypass account. If you are looking for a premium cabin seat, you are probably better off searching via United instead.
Air France/KLM (FlyingBlue)
Air France and KLM share a frequent flyer program called FlyingBlue. Since FlyingBlue is a SkyTeam alliance member, you can redeem FlyingBlue miles for travel on Air France, KLM, China Southern, etc. flights. FlyingBlue can be finicky to work with, but they offer some decent value for flights to India. FlyingBlue groups the Indian Subcontinent into its own award zone.
Roundtrip award tickets will cost you 80k miles in economy and 200k miles in business class. Again, availability looked pretty wide open for both cabins. Depending on your routing, you can expect $200-$300 in taxes and fees for roundtrip economy tickets and $350-$800 in taxes and fees for roundtrip business class tickets.
One-way award tickets are allowed at 40k in economy and 100k miles in business, but no stopovers are allowed. While the economy class rate is one of the best among the UR transfer partners, the business class rate leaves a lot to be desired. Accordingly, I would be looking elsewhere for business class tickets. If you are dead set on flying a SkyTeam alliance member airline in business class though, redeeming through Korean Air is going to be your better bet.
British Airways has a distance based award chart, so your home airport is really going to make the biggest difference here in how much an award ticket to India will cost you. As British Airways is a member of the OneWorld alliance, you can use your Avios to book British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines or American Airlines flights to India.
The upshot of using Avios is that you can build in an itinerary that flies from the U.S. to Hong Kong (HKG) or Tokyo (NRT/HND), or from the U.S. to London (LHR) or Doha (DOH), and then on to India if you wanted. That actually opens up a lot more possibilities as you are not restricted to routing via the Pacific or Atlantic. The downside of this is that due to the distance based award chart, your particular routing may cost you substantially more Avios.
There are no direct flights between the U.S. and India operated by a OneWorld carrier, so you are going to need to connect somewhere. Here are the one-way award ticket costs you can expect for the various most direct routings assuming you are flying out of New York (JFK):
- British Airways – JFK-LHR-DEL – 45k Avios + $340 in economy, 135k Avios + $757 in business class and 160k Avios + $757 in first class.
- British Airways – DEL-LHR-JFK – 45k Avios + $302 in economy, 58.5k Avios + $449 in premium economy, 135k Avios + $574 in business class and 160k Avios + $574 in first class.
- Qatar Airways – JFK-DOH-DEL – 45k Avios + $278 in economy and 125k Avios + $402 in business class.
- Qatar Airways – DEL-DOH-JFK – 45k Avios + $212 in economy and 125k Avios + $333 in business class.
- Cathay Pacific* – JFK-HKG-DEL – 47.5k Avios + $37 in economy, 82.5k Avios + $37 in premium economy, 142.5k Avios + $37 in business class and 177.5k Avios + $37 in first class.
- Cathay Pacific* – DEL-HKG-JFK – 47.5k Avios + $59 in economy, 82.5k Avios + $59 in premium economy, 142.5k Avios + $65 in business class and 177.5k Avios + $65 in first class.
- Japan Airlines* – JFK-TYO-DEL – 55k Avios + $79 in economy, 110k Avios + $79 in premium economy, 165k Avios + $79 in business class and 200k Avios + $79 in first class.
- Japan Airlines* – DEL-TYO-JFK – 55k Avios + $101 in economy, $110k Avios + $101 in premium economy, 165k Avios + $109 in business class and 200k Avios + $109 in first class.
*Note that neither Japan Airlines nor Cathay Pacific offers a premium economy or first class product on their routes to or from Delhi (DEL). That means if you paid for the premium economy or first class flights, only your trans-Pacific flight would be in that cabin.
If you were traveling between Los Angeles (LAX) and Delhi (DEL), you can expect your cost to go up a bit if routing through London (LHR) or Doha (DOH) and down a bit if routing through Hong Kong (HKG) or Tokyo (TYO).
Again, keep in mind that these are price ranges for flights between New York (JFK) and Delhi (DEL) with the most direct routing, so your award ticket cost may vary from these numbers depending on your home airport, number of connections needed and destination in India. Also keep in mind that British Airways does not levy their usual hefty fuel surcharges on partner redemptions, but they do if you redeem for British Airways flights through London (LHR).
Award space tends to be best on these routes either very close in, or very far out. Premium cabin award space on these routes is pretty decent across the board at the time of writing, though Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines are consistent with opening up additional space starting ~30 days from departure.
In light of the cost, unless you have a glut of Avios you want to burn, you are better off transferring your URs elsewhere for a redemption to India – especially if you are looking to travel in a premium cabin.
Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your KrisFlyer miles for Air Canada, United, ANA, Air India and Singapore Airlines (among others) flights to India. In other words, you are going to have a ton of options!
Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines that utilizes a separate award chart for partner awards. The Singapore Airlines specific award chart puts India in Zone 6, while the partner award chart puts India in the Central, South Asia award zone.
For Singapore Airlines operated flights from the East Coast of the U.S., you can expect roundtrip prices of 105k miles for economy, 177k miles for premium economy, 205k miles for business class and 265k miles for first class.
For Singapore Airlines operated flights from the West Coast of the U.S., you can expect roundtrip prices of 85k miles for economy, 167k miles for premium economy, 180k miles for business class and 250k miles for first class.
For Singapore operated flights, one-way award tickets are allowed at half the price. Also keep in mind that the quoted rates do not factor in the 15% discount you would receive from booking your award ticket online. With that said, even factoring in the 15% discount, these rates are not especially competitive.
For roundtrip partner redemptions between the U.S. and India, it will cost you 105k miles for economy, 195k miles for business class and 265k miles for first class.
Overall, Singapore is not really very competitive when it comes to award ticket prices to India. There are definitely much better redemptions to be had elsewhere with your URs, so I would not transfer them here.
United is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can use your KrisFlyer miles for Air Canada, United, ANA, Air India and Singapore Airlines (among others) flights to India. As with Singapore Airlines, you are going to have a ton of options!
United places India in the Central Asia award region, so regardless of where you are traveling to in India, your redemption costs will remain the same.
United uses a two-tier award system for their awards. Economy tickets are the same cost regardless of whether you are on a United flight or a partner flight. A roundtrip saver economy award ticket will cost you 85k miles.
Business and first class award tickets on the other hand will differ in price depending on whether you are flying on a United operated flight or a partner operated flight. For United operated flights, a roundtrip saver business class award ticket will cost you 140k miles, while a saver first class award ticket will cost you 180k miles.
Alternatively, for partner operated flights, a roundtrip saver business class award ticket will cost you 160k miles, while a saver first class award ticket will cost you 280k miles.
When booking a roundtrip award ticket, United allows you one stopover. United also allows one-way award tickets (though you would lose out on the free stopover) at half the rates cited above.
As you can see, the much better value when redeeming for premium cabins is with United operated flights – though the actual product is going to be far less enticing than what some of United’s partners such as ANA offer. Economy award tickets through United definitely offers one of the best values for economy redemptions of all of the UR transfer partners though. If you are interested in a premium cabin redemption, it is probably best to look elsewhere while keeping United in mind.
Virgin Atlantic operates out of a very small market in the U.S., but they do fly to Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM). The major downside to this program is that the taxes and carrier imposed fees/surcharges are outrageously high – especially on premium cabin redemptions.
For redemptions on Virgin Atlantic between New York (JFK) and Delhi (DEL), you are looking at a roundtrip cost of 77.5k miles + $856-$1,027 for economy, 125k miles + $1,416-$1,700 for premium economy and 180k miles + $1,730-$2,076 for business class. That is absolutely absurd!
As reader DJ pointed out to me in the comments, the flight between London (LHR) and Mumbai (BOM) is actually operated by Jet Airways instead, so that is something to keep in mind if you were looking to get in on the Virgin Atlantic on board bar.
Virgin Atlantic does partner with All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Singapore Airlines, though you need to call Virgin Atlantic at least 14 days prior to departure at 1.800.365.9500 to receive pricing and book. From what I have been able to find, you can expect pretty outrageous taxes, fees and surcharges on these redemptions (think $1,000+ for business class redemptions).
Although the mileage redemption rates (ignoring the outrageous taxes and fees) for economy are actually not horrible, the fact that your URs transfer to Virgin Atlantic at only 1:0.5 makes Virgin Atlantic the single worst UR transfer partner for award tickets to India in my opinion. When you factor in the outrageous taxes and fees, I would strongly recommend you avoid this option at all costs unless you literally have no other option.
Unfortunately, Southwest does not currently fly to India, nor do they have any partners that fly to India. If you have a Chase co-branded Southwest credit card, there is a way around this to use your RapidRewards points for international travel, but the value is usually exceedingly poor and I will not get into how to do so here as it will rarely (if ever) work out in your favor.
As you can see, the UR transfer partners do not offer a lot of options for finding award availability to India, though they do offer some of the less expensive options among MR, UR, TYP and SPG transfer partners in limited situations. Hopefully this guide has helped to shine a little light on how to utilize and maximize your URs for a trip to India!
Stay tuned for the next installments on your best redemption options for TYPs and SPG Starpoints!
What is your favorite way to redeem URs to get to India?
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