There’s nothing more exciting than the anticipation of an upcoming trip to your home country. When it comes to planning an itinerary, it’s very important to do a lot of research to choose an airline perfect for you. Apart from price, there are many other factors like convenience, safety, service, loyalty programs, food etc. to be considered before choosing an airline for the long haul. Based on your location or travel preference, we can classify flights from the US to India into four categories:
- Non-stop or Direct flights
- Flights from West coast with a transit points in the Pacific
- Flights from East coast with a transit points in Europe
- Flights with a transit point in the Middle East.
Non-stop flights from USA to India
Here are some of my favorite airlines:
1. Air India – On-time ranking: 34
If you are looking for non-stop flight from India to Chicago, Newark, San Francisco or New York, then Air India is the best choice for you. Air India offers non-stop flights between:
|San Francisco||New Delhi||15 hours 55minutes|
|Chicago||New Delhi||14 hours 35 minutes|
|New York||New Delhi||13 hours 45 minutes|
|Newark||Mumbai||14 hours 45 minutes|
- 2 free check in baggage allowed with 23kg/50 lbs each.
- Convenient arrival and departure timings.
- Friendly crew who can converse in many Indian languages.
- Availability of Indian cuisine on board.
- Good inflight entertainment options.
- Expect delays
- No Wi-Fi facility on flights.
Food & Beverages: 3/5
Inflight Entertainment: 2/5
Seat comfort: 3/5
Staff service: 3/5
Value for money: 3/5
2. United Airlines – On-time ranking: 14
I would keep United Airlines as my second option while considering non-stop flights to India. It is a time saving, decent flight but surely not the best. Many factors like quality of food, service, legroom etc. are much better in Air India. United Airlines offers daily, non-stop flights between Newark, NJ., to Mumbai and Delhi.
- Fast, convenient and decent service.
- Check in baggage rules
– 1st baggage-Free (23kg/50lbs)
– 2nd baggage-$100
- Higher price compared to Air India
- Not a good option for those who expect good Indian food or vegetarian food on board.
Food & Beverages: 2/5
Inflight Entertainment: 2/5
Seat comfort: 2/5
Staff service: 3/5
Value for money: 2/5
Flights from West Coast
Some of the best USA – India flights are from the west coast.
3. Singapore Airlines – On-time ranking: 6
If you think that world-class services are only limited to business class passengers, then Singapore Airlines will prove you wrong. They are known for offering the world’s best economy class experience. In the West coast, Singapore Airlines offer services from both San Francisco and Los Angeles to India.
- Average age of the fleet is 6.8 years
- High safety standards
- Excellent service
- High on-time record
- Comfortable seats with good leg room
- Baggage allowance-2 pieces, up to 23kg each.
- Food & Beverages:4/5
- Inflight Entertainment:4/5
- Seat comfort: 4/5
- Staff service: 4/5
- Value for money: 4/5
Flights from Middle East
These are my personal favorites
4. Etihad – On-time ranking: 3
Etihad would be a good option for those who wish to take a connecting flight from Middles East. My overall experience with Etihad was just average. Their seats are pretty cramped and service quality is not so great. Etihad is very strict about their baggage allowance limit so make sure you double check the baggage weight before reaching the airport.
- Baggage allowance-2 bags, up to 23kg each.
- Budget friendly
- Clearing US immigration and customs in Abu Dhabi
- Decent Indian food
- Food & Beverages:3/5
- Inflight Entertainment:3/5
- Seat comfort: 3/5
- Staff service: 3/5
- Value for money: 3/5
5. Emirates – On-time ranking: 2
Emirates is my all time favorite carrier when travelling to India. They ensure that you have a wonderful experience throughout the journey. They are the best when it comes to comfortable seating and good legroom.
- Free baggage allowance of 2 bags up to 23kg/50lbs each.
- Good legroom.
- Excellent service.
- Great inflight entertainment.
- Food & Beverages: 3/5
- Inflight Entertainment: 4/5
- Seat comfort: 4/5
- Staff service: 3/5
- Value for money: 4/5
How to get the best deals when flying USA to India
For most of the NRIs from the USA, the long-drawn process of planning the itinerary, checking the best routes, booking the tickets etc. can sometimes be overwhelming. But with some research and careful planning, you will be able to get the best possible deal. Follow the below tips & tricks to get the best deal for your next travel:
1. Book Early
As a rule of thumb always book your tickets in advance to get the best price.
The best time to book flight tickets to India is at least 6-8 weeks ahead of your departure and the worst time is 14 days before your departure.
2. Be flexible with your travel dates
Time your travel wisely! Barring emergencies, always try to be flexible with your travel dates. The best time to visit Indian is normally from September to February. Choose weekdays over weekends and try to avoid traveling during peak season. Use different price comparison tools available online like Skyscanner’s price chart, itasoftware matrix search etc. to view the cheapest days to fly. Below is Skyscanner’s price comparison chart:
3. Booking medium
The booking medium can be broadly categorized as:
- Agents-Agent bookings are best suitable for last minute ticket booking or for people who have little or no time for planning the trip.
- Airline portal-Its always advisable to book through the concerned airline portal for an international travel. In the events of cancellation or rescheduling of flights you are always sure that the airline will arrange an alternate plan for you.
- Other online portals-You will get a huge pool of information and flight options from online portals like kayak.com, www.expedia.com, www.makemytrip.com, www.orbitz.com etc. Make sure that you go through the terms & conditions and price composition carefully.
Make a wise travel decision by exploring and comparing the prices offered across different mediums.
4. Check alternate airports
Even though there may be an airport on your doorstep, don’t rule out the option of flying out from an airport slightly further away for a lower price. It may work out cheaper, even with the cost of a bus or train ticket to reach the alternate airport. In some cases flying out from smaller airports may prove to be cheaper than flying out from a popular airport.
5. Be aware of deals and benefits
Stay active, stay alert! There is no dearth of discounts, deals, cash back and offers by airlines and other portals that can reduce the price of air ticket substantially.
- Check if you qualify for any special offers or concessions given by the airlines. For example Air India currently has special offers for students.
- If you are a frequent flyer, take advantage of the loyalty programs and frequent flyer programs offered by the concerned airlines.
- Sign up for mobile and e-mail alerts to update yourself with the fluctuating flight charges and current offers & discounts.
- Another best place to look for deals are Facebook, Twitter and websites of airlines and online travel portals.
6. Opt for non-refundable tickets
Normally, non-refundable air tickets are cheaper than refundable air tickets. So if you are 100% sure about your travel plan, go ahead and book a non-refundable air ticket.
7. Other tips:
- Whenever possible book a round trip ticket to save money.
- Some airlines will refund or credit the difference if the airfare drops after you book the ticket. Flight monitoring site like yapta.com keeps an eye on price drops and alerts you so you can contact the airline for a refund.
- Be ready with a credit card to book tickets online and ensure that your credit card has adequate limit.
- Don’t forget to clear to cookies every time you do a new airfare search.
- Travel light to avoid extra baggage fee.
“When–to-fly” and “When –to-buy”?
With the help of www.farecompare.com, I have got the inside scoop on finding the best time to fly for the best price. Find the details below on when-to-fly and when-to-buy
1. How much does it cost to fly from San Francisco to Delhi?
The average flight price to fly from SFO to DEL is around $705.
2. When can I buy the cheapest flight from San Francisco to Delhi?
The best days to book flights on this route are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
3.How far in advance should you book flights from San Francisco to Delhi?
The chart below shows up-to-date information regarding how far in advance a flight from San Francisco to Delhi should be booked.
4. Cheapest day to fly from San Francisco to Delhi?
Refer the below table for information regarding the cheapest days to fly.
Most favorable days to fly: Monday & Tuesday
Worst day to fly: Friday
5. Best time of the year to fly out from SFO to DEL?
Best month to fly is September.
How to get best price on flight tickets ? Must try airfare search engines
Powerful search tools make a big difference in getting the best deals. Apart from providing you with the lowest fare, the search engine should also be capable of providing you with multiple products & services. For example, you should check if the search engine:
- Suggest you days of lowest airfare.
- Gives you the option to mix and match carriers to maximize gain.
- Lets you filter the carriers where you can apply your rewards/loyalty programs.
- Offers additional service like hotel booking, car rentals etc.
- Is easy to navigate and understand.
Keeping price as criteria, I have done a comparative study of four unique airfare search engines available online
Itasoftware by Google is every fare hacker’s handy tool. It is not an air ticket-booking site but you can use the ITA Matrix fare finder as a reference to locate best possible airfares. The website is pretty easy to navigate and has some advanced features like calendar of lowest fare, option to enable nearest airports, flexi date options etc. Website: www.itasoftware.com
Yapta is an interesting online price-tracking tool. Enter your travel details on Yapta and their price drop alerts help to know when to book tickets to get the best value. If you have already purchased a ticket, simply add your ticket information on Yapta. They will e-mail you if price drops below what you paid and assist you in getting vouchers or refunds for the difference. However, this refund policy works only for selected airlines. Website: www.yapta.com
Farecompare is one of the most advance price predicting tool available online today. It collects & compares flight prices from over 500 airlines around the world. Farecompare uses current and historic data to analyze airfare, which enables them to provide real-time information to people regarding the best price, best time to purchase the ticket etc. Being dedicated to true travelers, Farecompare also provides many tips & suggestions and getaway maps. Website: www.farecompare.com
Momodo is more than an online airfare comparison site. I really love using this site because it’s very fast and has a user-friendly interface. As you enter the trip details and hit search button, Momodo shows you a price calendar graphically. This graph is super easy to understand and it gives you a clear picture of variation in flight charges across the month or year. They have many interesting filters for specific requirements like filter by alliance, airport suggestions, filter by priority (cost or time) etc. Website: www.momondo.in
So, there you have it. Which airlines do you chose when flying USA to India?