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In the footsteps of the Delhi Deli: same-plane return to DEL & 20k points

In the footsteps of the Delhi Deli: same-plane return to DEL & 20k points

Old Feb 1, 18, 11:56 pm
  #1  
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In the footsteps of the Delhi Deli: same-plane return to DEL & 20k points

— And how long are you staying in India?
— Three and a half … hours.
— Right.
Poor purser. She probably thought she had seen, and heard, it all already.

This is not a trip report, but more a description of how I secured 20 000 AY+ tier and award points (or actually 21250) and renewed my Platinum status for 2018. I hope this gives you some good ideas if you need to get a bunch of points to maintain your status. It’s easy, it’s relatively cheap, and of course it’s great fun, too!

My big inspiration was Intuition’s trip report from a similar journey in 2016: The Delhi deli If you haven’t read it already, I strongly suggest that you do so now. The Delhi Deli is not only informative but also very entertaining.

So, my case was that I had almost reached the Platinum threshold of 150 000 tier points, falling some 19 000 points short. My options were:
(1) Settle for Gold
(2) Transfer 60 000 award points
(3) Fly

#1 was out of the question since I had come so close to the threshold. Plat would give me two more longhaul upgrades, free internet and free Y+ seats, all worth a lot of money. So I was definitely going to get it. One longhaul upgrade costs 50 000, so transferring 60 000 to get two upgrades would not be a bad deal. But if I paid some cash, I would get the upgrades as well as a points balance of +80 000 compared to #2. That’s 1.6 more upgrades, right?

When researching alternatives, it was clear that timewise, and also moneywise, it would be easiest to fly a longhaul return in Y(+) on a Value ticket. That would earn me 8000 points + 25 %, ie 10 000 one way and 20 000 return. Just enough to get above the threshold. While I would have loved a long weekend in NYC, the JV makes it impossible to pay reasonable amounts of money for a 100 % earning Y fare, so Asia it would be. Now, I’m not really a fan of sitting on airplanes, let alone sitting in Y, with or without the plus, and I’m not a huge fan of Asia, either, SIN being more or less the only exception. But SIN happens to be the longest Asian route, and as playing the status game has given me the privilege of avoiding sitting in Y on those long flights, I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of having to endure 12+12 hours in Y and a massive jetlag just to spend a weekend in SIN.

By far the easiest, quickest and cheapest thing to do would be to follow Intuition’s and his friends’ footsteps and do something that’s completely inexplainable to any of my friends: I was going to India, not for a month, not for a week and not even for a weekend, but for 3.5 hours! DEL is the shortest of the longhaul destinations in the AY network, with scheduled flying times of 6h45 outbound and 7h40 inbound. That should be tolerable even in Y+. And since the flight is short but AY wants to offer smooth connections at HEL, it means the plane is scheduled to stay in DEL for 4 hours, which in turn means there’s no hurry to transfer but the transit time is also not too long to make it boring. Besides, the outbound flight is an overnight one, so if you leave on Saturday, you will meet the ’first Sunday after departure’ rule just nicely on a same-plane return. I would leave home on Saturday evening and be back on Sunday afternoon.

Booking early, a Value ticket ex-HEL will cost you less than €550. You can save some money by positioning. In my case, RIX would have been the cheapest alternative, about €100 cheaper, but then I would have needed positioning flights. TLL and ARN are other viable alternatives. I booked ex-ARN. It saved me some €30 only, but I needed to go there anyway, so I combined the trips and AY ended up paying me €30 for flying with them. The ferry HEL-STO was a bargain at €2. So for me, it was ferry to Stockholm on Thursday evening, ARN-HEL on Friday, HEL-DEL on Saturday, DEL-HEL on Sunday and HEL-ARN on Monday. In the end, I cancelled the last flight, though, because my original plan of taking the ferry back on Monday, arriving in Helsinki on Tuesday morning, didn’t work since I was needed at work on Monday.

Having read the advice in the Delhi Deli, I also applied for a visa. The only person interested in my eVisa, or the A4 PDF I printed at home, was the gate agent at HEL. The visa cost €43.70. It’s valid for four months and allows two entries, zero of which have been used.

I'm not going to tell you much about the flights themselves, with one exception: On the outbound, I was sitting next to a Swedish woman in her late thirties. A little before landing, she remembered that the FA had been handing out some pieces of paper right after departure. She took hers out, looking at it as if it was a counterfeit lottery ticket. ”Are you supposed to fill this in?” she asked me. While I would have wanted to tell her no, the landing card was there just so she could rip it into small pieces and throw it in the air, letting it fall back on her like snowflakes, I replied with a polite ’yes’. Her next, logical question was if I had filled in my coupon, too. Now, if I had been honest, I would have told her no, why on earth would I need to do that? I wasn’t going to India, after all. Not wanting to confuse here, I lied and replied with a polite ’yes’, again, after which she felt confident enough to start filling in her card. Otherwise, both flights were uneventful, almost all seats were taken both in Y and J, Plat seatblock didn’t work and the crews were nice and friendly. On the return, I was even proactively offered a second complimentary Baileys. One thing to note is that an FA confirmed to me that while all pax meals on the inbound are catered from DEL, all crew meals come from HEL. Doesn’t sound too reassuring, although I didn’t get any stomach problems from my dry chicken pieces and roasted potatoes.

But this is how it works after you’ve booked your ticket and checked in online for both flights:

At HEL, before going to the lounge, I stopped by at the transfer desk and asked them to print me a real BP, as opposed to a self-printed one, for the return.

My plane landed at a foggy (smoggy) DEL airport 15 minutes behind schedule at 6:50 am. At DEL, when I exited the jetbridge, I asked a hoard of men in blue suits where I was supposed to go for my transfer flight. We didn’t speak the same English though, because after asking where I would be flying and hearing my reply, ’Helsinki’, he asked if it was domestic. At this stage I thought I’d be better off on my own and just followed the crowd. There were many signs for Transfers, so it wasn’t the least problematic to follow them. Finally, after a long walk of 905 steps from gate 9, I reached an area where on the left, you go downstairs to immigration to enter India and on the right, you stay on the same floor to go to international transfers. Again, the signs were very clear.

It was 7 am in Delhi, and there were no pax at the desk, but four agents, three of whom were awake. I was pointed to the agent handling AY flights (there aren’t really any signs so you don’t know which agent to talk to). He asked me where I was coming from and where I was flying. ’Helsinki, and Helsinki.’ Looking a little puzzled, he asked if I was escorting someone. I told him I’m flying just to get some frequent flyer points in order to maintain my status. I think he didn’t understand one word, but after asking whether I have checked in any bags (what on earth for?) he was kind enough to take my passport and BP and ask me to sit down for five minutes while he would place a call. So I sat there waiting for two big Indian men in white jackets and with cable ties to come and get the crazy Westener, but after about the five minutes promised, all that happened was that he called me back to the desk, wrote DT on my HEL-issued BP, twice, and wished me a pleasant flight.

Transfer security is right behind the desk, and it was completely empty, too. I asked if they wanted me to take my hand sanitizer out for screening, but it seemed they weren’t the least interested in any liquids. After the screening and a brief hand pat my BP was stamped twice to note that I was good to fly.

Then it was just a brief walk up some escalators, through the duty free shop (that according to Tripadvisor sells fake alcohol) and to a bigger shopping area. There are several souvenir shops, all insanely expensive, as well as restaurants, cafés, a WHSmith newsstand with inexpensive books and a pharmacy. A friend of mine had been offered morphine pills over the counter in Goa for back pain, and I sort of thought they’d make a nice souvenir from DEL, but then it occured to me that Finnish customs might have a different view on nice souvenirs, so I passed the pharmacy. A blue Ganesha made out of glass was to be my souvenir from India on this trip.

After my shopping spree, I walked towards gate 15, opposite of which I found the outdoor smoking area. Not only of cigarrette smoke, but the air smelled strongly of burned wood or coal, too. Quoting the Delhi Deli, ”I'd like to go to India sometime, says OH-LGG and gazes to the horizon”. Well, I’ve been to India, once, some 13 years ago, and that air quality reminded me why I don’t exactly have an urge to go back, to put it nicely.

At 8 am, I reached the AY lounge, the Plaza Premium, by walking along a corridor next to WHSmith and taking the elevator two floors up. Contrary to many reviews I read before my trip, I found the lounge alright. The receptionist was friendly, the lounge was almost empty, the seating was comfortable and the wifi worked well. I had brought with me a small bottle of hand sanitizer – I never use it on any trips, but for India, I was ready to make an exception. I had also brought a Makula baguette and a banana for breakfast. Only when opening the wrapping I realised that my baguette was a beef-and-cheese one. Beef in India doesn’t sound like a very good idea, but the lounge was almost empty and I don’t expect the staff to know what the label saying naudanpaisti means, anyway, so I thought I’d be okay. Next time, though, I might get a chicken one just out of respect. There was a manned egg station and a buffet with both hot and cold breakfast options. A part of me wanted to try the deep yellow mango youghurt, but I thought I might live longer without it. Two bottles of water was the only thing I consumed courtesy of the lounge. I wonder if I’d have the guts, literally, to try some of the offerings, if there’s ever going to be a next time.

I left the lounge about 55 minutes before STD, took a brief walk around the shopping area and then headed for the gate. On my way there I saw that some gates have extra security, but this was not the case at gate 9. Perhaps that extra security is for US flights? The departures board showed some interesting destinations, such as ASB and KBL, among others. Boarding was a breeze and my HEL-issued BP worked well at the gate.

Usually, the plane stays at DEL for four hours. My flight was a few days before Indian independence day, and the air force was practicing for an airshow, meaning they would close off the whole airspace around DEL airport. Therefore, AY changed the schedule about a week before my flight: my return flight would now be departing at 9:55. They sent me four emails and one SMS about the schedule change – I suppose repetition is the mother of learning in India, too. This suited me quite well, although in the end we ended up taking off exactly at 10:35, the original STD, anyway.

After a short (6h50) and uneventful flight back home the plane landed 10 minutes ahead of schedule and I ended up in a surprisingly crowded arrivals hall with a 10 minute wait to passport control. But hey, who wouldn’t stand in line for 10 minutes when you know you’ll be 20 000 points richer!

All in all, my DEL MR was a funny experience. Depending on what my tier points balance looks like next year, I just might do it again, and I urge the FT crowd to try it out, should you be in need of some extra tier points.

Last edited by ffay005; Feb 3, 18 at 9:45 am Reason: typos
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Old Feb 2, 18, 12:14 am
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DEL MR is great. I have heard laughing about DEL turnarounds but everyone who has made it, realizes how fun it is.

One thing: next time You must go with Cistavoda and then your small bottle in your hand is not sanitizer, it is Heineken for breakfast.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 1:14 am
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Great read ffay055, and very entertaining indeed... Look forward to reading more of your future MR's ^
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Old Feb 2, 18, 3:56 am
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Originally Posted by OH-LGG View Post
DEL MR is great. I have heard laughing about DEL turnarounds but everyone who has made it, realizes how fun it is.

One thing: next time You must go with Cistavoda and then your small bottle in your hand is not sanitizer, it is Heineken for breakfast.
Yes. I believe many Heineken breakfasts will be had in the quest for lumo.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 4:30 am
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BTW, the hygiene in all 5-6 lounges in DEL is as good as the HEL contract lounge, so your stomach and life would not have ended if you consumed any of the offerings.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 4:55 am
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Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
BTW, the hygiene in all 5-6 lounges in DEL is as good as the HEL contract lounge, so your stomach and life would not have ended if you consumed any of the offerings.
Really? The egg station with the ham and cheese hanging around there in room temperature for the whole day? I really don't think so.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 5:18 am
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If one is afraid of caching Delhi Belly, Isn't this what the hip flask with Kossu is there for?
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Old Feb 2, 18, 5:42 am
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I'm planning to go Delhi (not only DEL) for a couple of days in next autumn.
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Old Feb 2, 18, 9:05 am
  #9  
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I am so proud of you, ffay005!
(intuition tearing up inside as he reads report from a new generation DEL-flyer!)
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Old Feb 2, 18, 8:19 pm
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Thanks for posting. Sounds like an experience I need to have in the near future.
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Old Feb 3, 18, 12:07 am
  #11  
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[quoted text redacted by moderator]

Thanks for sharing, very nice reading ��

I don't like India one bit, the only time I have been there (if Colombo doesn't count) voluntarily, 2007 when AY lauched the Mumbai route, I spent 5 days there with my wife, ate in many local restaurants, like the ones Indians have lunch etc and very surprisingly had no stomach issues at all..and my stomach is far from being strong...the food is great there but not just a society to my liking..rather spend my time elsewhere..I dont enjoy looking at kids and severly ill people lying and crawling on the filthy streets
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Last edited by NewbieRunner; Feb 12, 19 at 4:18 pm Reason: Redact deleted text
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Old Feb 3, 18, 1:37 am
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Do you all share such strong antipathies for all developing countries (Africa, other South Asian countries) or is it just India? I mean, on average, most of this planet has unclean drinking water, potentially risky food, dirty cities, bad safety, and poor people. Finland and Western countries are an anomaly.
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Old Feb 3, 18, 1:53 am
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Originally Posted by CeruleanBlue View Post
Do you all share such strong antipathies for all developing countries (Africa, other South Asian countries) or is it just India? I mean, on average, most of this planet has unclean drinking water, potentially risky food, dirty cities, bad safety, and poor people. Finland and Western countries are an anomaly.
I'm currently in Myanmar and no issues here so for me it's just India that is suspicious... Maybe it's the stories I've heard from my Indian friend who now lives in the US.
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Old Feb 3, 18, 2:13 am
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Originally Posted by CeruleanBlue View Post
Do you all share such strong antipathies for all developing countries (Africa, other South Asian countries)
Absolutely not, I have been to many, many 3rd world countries in Asia, Africa, South America and have, and continue to enjoy them a lot...India just is not my cup of tea...one of only very few places I have absolutely no desire to travel to again. Opinions vary and that's just mine.
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Old Feb 3, 18, 2:34 am
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Originally Posted by NoWindowSeat View Post


Thanks for sharing, very nice reading 👍

I don't like India one bit, the only time I have been there (if Colombo doesn't count) voluntarily, 2007 when AY lauched the Mumbai route, I spent 5 days there with my wife, ate in many local restaurants, like the ones Indians have lunch etc and very surprisingly had no stomach issues at all..and my stomach is far from being strong...the food is great there but not just a society to my liking..rather spend my time elsewhere..I dont enjoy looking at kids and severly ill people lying and crawling on the filthy streets
"If Colombo doesn't count"? That's like saying "I don't like France one bit, the only time I have been there (if London doesn't count) voluntarily..."
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