Lufthansa Business Class.jpg

As I posted a short while ago, I was able to book four Business Class award tickets to India for my family and I. This took up 480,000 miles redeemed! While it was painful to see the miles get deducted from my account, I am really looking forward to enjoying the flat bed seats and the meals in business class. I am pretty sure I am spoiling my family and they will always want to travel only in business or first class from now on. Economy is so painful, right? Right!

I got several requests from readers asking me how I was able to get the award seats and if I had any tips. So, here they are. Understand that YMMV – seat availability is really a lottery, especially if your dates are not flexible or like in my case, only confirmed a couple of months before the travel dates. But, this should help you get going.

My Award Booking details:

Miles used: 480,000 United MileagePlus Miles, used for Star Alliance Award

Airlines traveling on:

US to India (IAD-DEL): Lufthansa

India to US (BOM-IAD): Swiss and United

All Business Class!

Have a lot of miles:

It is 120,000 miles for a round trip Business Class ticket from US to India. Have the miles in your account. If you have much more than what you need, it is even better as you can put seats on hold while you finalize your plans.

Use the site and start searching:

I started going online to search for seat availability almost every day. Looking at options, routing, airlines, etc to understand the lay of the land and see what is available of different date sets that could work for us.

…and keep searching:

Availability keeps changing. People put seats and hold which get releases if they do not book. Also, airlines release more award seats as the dates get closer. So, keep searching. When I first started looking for seats, nothing and I mean nothing was available on the dates I really wanted. Seats became available a few days later.

United Star Alliance awards.jpg

Look for one-way awards:

This is something that I learnt after several false starts. I kept finding Business class seats on the outbound flights but not on the return. Even if one of your segments on a booking is in Business Class, the airline charges Business Class miles for the entire trip! So, I broke my trip into two one-way award trips. I booked in Business in the outbound and Economy for the return. I then kept on searching and the following week even the return became available in Business class, but on a different airline. As long as your trip has not started and the origin and destination cities are the same, you may no change fees.

Call the airline to look for partner awards:

For United, Star Alliance awards can be seen on the website but not for partners like Jet Airways and the soon to be not a partner Qatar. I kept calling the airline to see if wards were available on these.

Hope this helps. Do post your successful award redemptions – especially those in upper class, by leaving a comment below.

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 14 Comments

14 Responses to “How I scored four Business Class Award tickets from US to India”

  1. Albert says:

    Come on bud. U didn’t use the stopover option nor the open jaw. The least you could’ve done was another free one way when you return.

  2. Gene says:

    @Albert — You can’t have a stop >24 hrs on a one way UA award, can you?

  3. Albert says:

    Surely can. Many articles on this. Don’t have it handy. Plus throw in 2 open jaws. And a free 1 way on the return. Meaning if your home town is JFK. You can do from destination x to JFK. Then several months later, JFK to lax for free. All included as part of the original round trip.

  4. Albert says:

    Just re read your question. No to 1 way. Yes to round trip.

  5. Stephen says:

    He booked it as two one ways – re read the article.

  6. Kris Ziel says:

    I have a trip with double open jaw, single stopover on UA, but that is round trip only, you cannot do either of those on one way awards.

  7. Mark M says:

    I’m not sure I understand your reason for booking two one-way tickets rather than round trip. If you select business class for the outbound (in this case, 60,000 miles) and coach for the return (since you were only offered mixed-cabin segments on the return), you would still initially use the same number of miles as for the two one way tickets.

    I recently booked outbound IAH-FRA-PRG (stopover) -BUD on LH, and return MUC-IAH on United, using United miles. I was not able to book it online (kept getting an error message when I tried to build this itinerary) but searched segment-by-segment and then called United. I booked the outbound in coach (business not available on IAH-FRA segment) and return in business class.

  8. Amit says:

    “I am really looking forward to enjoying the flat bed seats and the meals in business class.” — Keep in mind unless you’re flying a 747-800, LH has angled seats in business class.

  9. unroadwarrior says:

    Yes I am. I’m on a 747-8 :)

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