Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting to India

India is on the other side of the world from where I live so the only realistic way of getting there is by air. Tickets really aren't cheap to India no matter who you fly these days. Those of you who know me know that I usually have a knack of finding great deals and in the past many years I've been able to find first class tickets cheaper than coach tickets. But not to India, no good deals seem to exist.

Fortunately I have done a lot of flying in the past with American Airlines and have accumulated a large quantity of miles, enough for a free ticket to India. I started looking at tickets in February and though it was nine months before my travel date it was actually quite difficult to find award seats available in which I could use my miles. A coach ticket was 90,000 miles round trip but no seats were available for the months I wanted to travel. Business class required 135,000 miles and while a seat was available for my return in January the only seat in November to get to India was at the end of the month, after my cousin's wedding. So then I looked at first class tickets which required 180,000 miles round trip. Luck was with me and I found a seat in each direction on the dates I wanted to travel so without hesitation I booked my ticket. I did have to pay taxes which was about $52 but what a deal considering the cash price for this ticket was in excess of $16,000!!!

It will take me two flights to get to New Delhi. The first flight will be on a small Boeing 757 which till take me to Chicago in about three hours. I'll overnight in Chicago and the following day I'll board a Boeing 777 wide body which will take me from Chicago to New Delhi non-stop in about 14.5 hours. The 777 is American Airline's largest airplane with three classes of service including first, business and economy. The first class seats are known at Flagship Suites and take up more space than four economy seats. The seat swivels from facing forward to 90 degrees to face the desk and it also lays flat into a bed. Service will include dinner, a midnight movie snack, breakfast and arrival snack, an amenity kit which includes slippers and pj's and even turn down service in which the bed is made with a topper and quilt. How cool is that!!! Okay, so I'm bragging a little bit but I just can't help it. But still, no matter how comfortable I'll be on this flight to and from New Delhi it is still a 14.5 hour flight. That's a long time in an airplane no matter where you sit.

Those who don't know me might think I'm independently wealthy traveling first class and spending three months in India. But nothing could be further from the truth. My friends and family know that I'm unemployed and cheap, not having any bills for the past few years has allowed me to save up enough money (and miles) for this adventure. My budget will be cheap, as in cheap hotels, cheap food and cheap transportation. There will be times though that I am treated to a bit of luxury such as when I first get to India as I plan on taking my cousin up on his offer to spend a week in his guest house. And when I spend a month with my mother and step father traveling on their dime in the lap of luxury (THANK YOU MOM and STEVE!!) But then when I'm on my own I expect to see a lot of budget hotels and restaurants off the main drag. I don't think traveling cheap takes away from the experience but rather adds to the adventure.

I start traveling in about three weeks and will do my best to start off this travel blog with my adventure of getting to India so expect some notes and photos of my flights to New Delhi.

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