Great Star Alliance Award Availability from the West Coast to India (and Europe)

Air India has started operating San Francisco – Delhi, and it’s almost one of the world’s longest flights.

The flight operates 3 days a week in each direction, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. And award availability is very good for 2 passengers. It’s wide open for two passengers in business class, and even in first class which is surprising because Air India usually only opens award space for 1 passenger in first.

It’s interesting to have a look at the United award availability calendar showing premium cabin award seats San Francisco – Delhi for 2 passengers available nearly every day.

Since the Air India flight is only 3 days a week, the rest of the space is obviously not Air India. Generally speaking it’s Turkish, San Francisco – Istanbul. For business class I’d probably actually take the Turkish flight even with a connection given a better seat and food and their fantastic lounge in Istanbul.

The Turkish flight is also useful for European travel as well as to the Mideast, and depending on the program you’re booking through potentially to Asia or Africa as well.

Air India isn’t really anyone’s first choice aside from price and schedule, except for this guy who flies Air India because he loves connecting in India so much. Though anyone that’s made a visa-free international-to-international connection in India has their most interesting experiences on the ground rather than in the air.

Air India’s first class, points-allowing, would be my preferred inflight product over Turkish business. Air India business class is angled, while their first class is of course fully flat.

Probably the most relevant programs for most readers are United MileagePlus (not least because they are a Chase transfer partner), Aeroplan (an American Express partner whose points transfer instantly), and Avianca LifeMiles (because they so frequently sell miles so cheap).

Here’s pricing:

  • Aeroplan: 75,000 miles each way for business class, 105,000 miles each way for first class. These prices don’t change December 15. And there are no fuel surcharges on Air India awards through Aeroplan.

  • Avianca LifeMiles: 81,000 miles each way for business class, 108,000 miles each way for first class.

  • United MileagePlus: 80,000 miles each way for business class, 140,000 miles each way for first class.

(HT: Milecards)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, Air India’s 777 are fully flat beds in business throughout.
    In fact, same as Turkish’s configuration on their 777s, 2-3-2.

    All their Dreamliners have fully flat beds too.

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