Considering I haven’t traveled internationally since my Mt Kilimanjaro trip back in 2019 thanks to the Pandemic, I would consider myself really lucky to have been able to snag such an amazing deal.
At the time of writing this article, I knew I had to pick an itinerary in the next three weeks and considered every option amongst various airlines and programs. Thanks to all the points I accumulated in the past three years, my options were thankfully not limited to redemption rate limits – however my goal was to get the most value out of the least points.
I reviewed options from Emirates, American Airlines, British Airways and Qatar Airways but landed on United Airlines offering me the best value redemption for a roundtrip business class ticket.
Emirates was 235,000 Skywards miles + $490 in fees (I would have had to transfer from AMEX MR and it would’ve taken a maximum of 3 working days), American Airlines was 180,000 AA miles + $450 in fees (I only had 53K miles at the time) and BA was not showing any award availability (since BA has basically broken the Avios portal and you have to dial in to make a booking which incurs more fees).
Why United Airlines?
At the time of writing this article, United is offering great flexibility in booking not only United flights but also Star Alliance partner flights like Turkish Airlines, ANA, Air India, etc… .
Now admittedly, days and redemption rates as well as availability keeps fluctuating so I certainly got lucky in my booking. I was able to snag each segment for 80K points (total 160,000 United Miles) and $45 in taxes/fees ($40 + $5).
Houston (TX), US -> Delhi, India: Travel time: 21 hours w/ layover
Delhi, India -> Houston (TX), US: Travel time: 22.5 hours w/ layover
I was thankfully able to leverage my United Explorer card to earn enough points through daily expenses and bonus categories – to use for this booking. Having a United co-branded Credit card does provide a major benefit one of which being the cardholder receiving better rates than the general public. Sign up bonuses keep fluctuating but the benefits far outweigh the cost of keeping the card (annual fee ones).