Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

Old Nov 19, 13, 2:13 pm
  #1  
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Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

This is my first post here, so bear with me

I just learned yesterday that I can travel to Chennai for the Worlds Debating Tournament. The tournament runs from Dec. 26 - Jan. 4. Happily my university will pay my airfare (hope this will count toward me for the stupid PQD requirement).
Since this trip falls into my winter break, I am also interested in tacking on a trip to HKG to visit my aunt there for as long as possible.

Here's what I need help with. What is the best way to farm miles in getting to MAA? Does it make more sense to book a r/t from IAD to MAA and then pay for the r/t to HKG myself, or should I have my school pay for the r/t from IAD to MAA and pay for a r/t HKG-MAA originating in HKG?

I need to be in Chennai sometime on the 26th or at the very latest on the 27th. I need to be back at IAD on Jan. 18th.

I am currently Mileage Plus Silver (although after reading up on that it doesn't actually do much for me) and I will be flying Economy (may pay to upgrade to E+ or use some miles depending on whether or not I am likely to be able to maintain my status after the idiotic changes to Mileage Plus that are coming down the line)

Does anything I've just written make sense?
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Old Nov 19, 13, 2:27 pm
  #2  
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Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

Either have them pay for IAD-MAA RT on Lufthansa/UA and pay your own side trip MaA-HKG-MAA on Cathay.

OR...have them pay IAD-MAA and HKG-IAD on UA and you pay MaA-HKG one way (pretty cheap)

Or...have them pay IAD-MAA and MAA-HKG-IAD with a layover built in in HKG. The MaA-HKG likely on Cathay. All other segments UA or Lufthansa

Price these options out and do what you feel is best

It may be that option 3 is no worse than option 1 in which case you get it all covered

Option 2 is smallest cash out of your pocket

Option 1 is if you are worries someone will object to paying for you to go anywhere but MaA and back

Do check Visa in India - they don't like people that leave and come back real quickly unless you have PIO/OCI. That would strike option 1.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 2:37 pm
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It makes sense, but honestly you could do some more research before posting here. This is the thing called the Internet and you can easily do your OWN research on prices before posting in a forum like this. I recommend itasoftware.com...

In all seriousness, find out what those trips cost and compare. And find out what your university is willing to pay. Then figure out what works for you.

You are going to be paying for peak holiday rates, so in my simple searching availability was limited and prices were high. Cheapest was non-UA partners, so if you want to be earning UA miles -- i.e. flying UA/LH going over -- you'll be paying even more. Perhaps your university is willing to pay for that? An important question to answer.

I think you should figure out what you can get from your university, and buy a ticket into MAA, out of HKG and deal with the middle-leg on its own (i.e. via an LCC).
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Old Nov 19, 13, 6:40 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer View Post
Either have them pay for IAD-MAA RT on Lufthansa/UA and pay your own side trip MaA-HKG-MAA on Cathay.

OR...have them pay IAD-MAA and HKG-IAD on UA and you pay MaA-HKG one way (pretty cheap)

Or...have them pay IAD-MAA and MAA-HKG-IAD with a layover built in in HKG. The MaA-HKG likely on Cathay. All other segments UA or Lufthansa

Price these options out and do what you feel is best

It may be that option 3 is no worse than option 1 in which case you get it all covered

Option 2 is smallest cash out of your pocket

Option 1 is if you are worries someone will object to paying for you to go anywhere but MaA and back

Do check Visa in India - they don't like people that leave and come back real quickly unless you have PIO/OCI. That would strike option 1.
I agree that Option 2 would be ideal, but I asked and they won't pay for all my flights

The visa question you raise is very interesting. I was looking into getting the visa I need for my trip, and I wasn't able to find any information regarding transits through India airports.
If I choose Option 1, will I have to clear immigration in MAA after coming back from HKG. If I do have to reclear immigration, that's a pain in the backside.

More and more Option 3 is looking like a winner. Have the team buy me a r/t UA flight from IAD to HKG via SFO or EWR and pay my own way on a r/t SG flight from HKG to MAA (SG is the cheapest right now at $651).

Originally Posted by noah View Post
It makes sense, but honestly you could do some more research before posting here. This is the thing called the Internet and you can easily do your OWN research on prices before posting in a forum like this. I recommend itasoftware.com...

In all seriousness, find out what those trips cost and compare. And find out what your university is willing to pay. Then figure out what works for you.

You are going to be paying for peak holiday rates, so in my simple searching availability was limited and prices were high. Cheapest was non-UA partners, so if you want to be earning UA miles -- i.e. flying UA/LH going over -- you'll be paying even more. Perhaps your university is willing to pay for that? An important question to answer.

I think you should figure out what you can get from your university, and buy a ticket into MAA, out of HKG and deal with the middle-leg on its own (i.e. via an LCC).
Sorry about posting before research. I did do some and identified 2 options, namely going r/t to HKG or r/t to MAA. In terms of earning more miles and flying a new type (748 on LH), the r/t into MAA makes more sense, but as uastarflyer pointed out, visa restrictions on my transit through MAA on the way home could be a headache.
My school is willing and able to pay quite a bit. I will tell them that my parents will not permit me to travel on the ME3 carriers under any circumstances (hints at xenophobia and security fears should do the trick). Without the ME3, most connections on Indian airlines should also fall by the wayside (I think).
Regarding LCCs between MAA and HKG, I'm pretty poorly informed. I tried the matrix search and the cheapest flight from HKG-MAA from Dec. 26th to Jan. 4th was a Jet Airways flight for $667. A Kayak search for the same dates came back with an SG flight for the same dates at $651. Neither of those are obviously LCCs, but the matrix search didn't show any LCCs in its results at all. Are there any good LCCs operating between HKG and MAA?

----

If I fly TPAC on UA, my options are EWR-HKG on a 772 or SFO-HKG on a 744. I was on seatguru and it looks like the 744 is not a fun experience. Y is craptacular, Y+is not much better, and J is almost all bad.
OTOH the 772 out of EWR is quite nice (I just came back from England on one in Y+). Y+ and J have some good seat reviews. Based on this, I think I should avoid flying the UA 744. Is this the right decision/does the 744 really suck as much as it looks like on seatguru?

I'm also thinking about spending some of my miles (I have about 80K right now) to upgrade from Economy to Y+ or (maybe) to J for the TPAC sectors. I'm thinking about spending the miles for 2 reasons.
First, I just read about the new Mileage Plus status requirements for 2015 and I don't think I'll be able to maintain Silver under the new requirements/at the that time in my life, so I want to spend what I have to get some benefit from my current status.
Second, I'd like to be more comfortable.
My question is whether 80K miles is enough for J class on EWR-HKG and HKG-EWR and whether it makes sense to spend my miles now?
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Old Nov 19, 13, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by sebu91 View Post
If I fly TPAC on UA, my options are EWR-HKG on a 772 or SFO-HKG on a 744. I was on seatguru and it looks like the 744 is not a fun experience. Y is craptacular, Y+is not much better, and J is almost all bad.
OTOH the 772 out of EWR is quite nice (I just came back from England on one in Y+). Y+ and J have some good seat reviews. Based on this, I think I should avoid flying the UA 744. Is this the right decision/does the 744 really suck as much as it looks like on seatguru?

I'm also thinking about spending some of my miles (I have about 80K right now) to upgrade from Economy to Y+ or (maybe) to J for the TPAC sectors. I'm thinking about spending the miles for 2 reasons.
First, I just read about the new Mileage Plus status requirements for 2015 and I don't think I'll be able to maintain Silver under the new requirements/at the that time in my life, so I want to spend what I have to get some benefit from my current status.
Second, I'd like to be more comfortable.
My question is whether 80K miles is enough for J class on EWR-HKG and HKG-EWR and whether it makes sense to spend my miles now?
Have you looked at using miles to pay for either a one-way or a round-trip between MAA and HKG? Also, Economy to Economy Plus is not considered an upgrade; plus, you cannot use miles to get Economy Plus.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 7:05 pm
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Originally Posted by sannmann View Post
Have you looked at using miles to pay for either a one-way or a round-trip between MAA and HKG? Also, Economy to Economy Plus is not considered an upgrade; plus, you cannot use miles to get Economy Plus.
Yes, I think that would be a good use of miles for the OP.

25K miles to fly MAA-SIN/BKK-HKG in Y, 40K in J. That would also give the OP some interesting 24 hour stopovers at SIN, BKK, TPE and more (if desired).

To the OP, I think best case scenario is open-jaw ticket IAD-MAA and HKG-IAD. I'm sure you can get this within your budget envelope.

Fly UA on (as much of) the long flights as possible so you can get into Y+ with your silver status.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 7:42 pm
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Round trips IAD-MAA can be had for around $2300. So that's your baseline price, for reimbursement purposes. Round trips IAD-HKG can be had for about $1800. Round trips HKG-MAA for about $500. You should be able to do this without paying anything extra out of pocket. Forget PQD, fares on UA are too high, but you can get to HKG on AC and get the PQM.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 8:10 pm
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Originally Posted by sannmann View Post
Have you looked at using miles to pay for either a one-way or a round-trip between MAA and HKG? Also, Economy to Economy Plus is not considered an upgrade; plus, you cannot use miles to get Economy Plus.
Originally Posted by noah View Post
Yes, I think that would be a good use of miles for the OP.

25K miles to fly MAA-SIN/BKK-HKG in Y, 40K in J. That would also give the OP some interesting 24 hour stopovers at SIN, BKK, TPE and more (if desired).

To the OP, I think best case scenario is open-jaw ticket IAD-MAA and HKG-IAD. I'm sure you can get this within your budget envelope.

Fly UA on (as much of) the long flights as possible so you can get into Y+ with your silver status.
I have looked at some open jaw options, but they are more expensive than going r/t to HKG and they also don't get me to MAA in time (by the 27th). They also have some truly terrible connections in ...... places. I think it would also be harder to get my school to pay for open jaw (they are unlikely to see the logic of giving me an open jaw ticket, when they agree to pay for my ticket to and from the tournament).

As for paying for the HKG-MAA r/t with miles completely, that is not something I had considered, since I didn't know how much it would cost (this will be my first time ever "spending" my miles for some kind of award travel/upgrade).

Noah, are the miles figures you quote for o/w or for r/t HKG-MAA and are they accurate for spending UA miles on an SG flight?

While I would be interested in some time in SIN or BKK, I am going to be meeting my family in HKG for some vacation after the tournament (I will leave MAA for HKG on Jan. 4th), so I don't want to miss out on time with them in HKG.

Right now my plan is to ask the university to pay for my r/t IAD-HKG and then to cover the r/t HKG-MAA myself with money or miles.

How exactly does my Silver upgrade to Y+ work? Do I get to pick Y+ at booking, at OLCI or do I have to wait till I get to the airport? What if I get to the airport and Y+ is full?
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Old Nov 19, 13, 9:02 pm
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Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

Y+ is at OLCI but you can pay for confirmed Y+ in advance. Look if they offer an annual Y+ option.

As to LCC from HKG-MAA go to Tiger Airways or Air Asia website.

But if I were you I would stick to SQ or Cathay.

By the way, Biz in a UA 747 rocks. Especially upstairs. Coach is very spartan.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 9:42 pm
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The Y+ subscription would be sweet, because buying one-time upgrades for the TPAC sectors alone would be near $500. I could have definitely gotten my money's worth out of it had I known about going to India a month ago (could have used the subscription for my trip to England as well). Would a Y+ subscription carry over onto SQ (do they even have a Y+ option?)?

I looked at Air Asia (no connections) and Tigerair (website won't load past the home page for me). Overall, I question whether LCCs will be much cheaper than the $651 on SQ that I found.

I would love to fly Biz on the 744 (especially upper deck - what a dream that would be), but I don't know whether I have enough miles for the upgrade from Y (I did the math wrong earlier in the thread. I only have 71,856 miles, but I do have Silver). How much is TPAC in both directions?
I figure coach is gonna be pretty basic on the 744 and the 772, but I like being on the 772 in coach better due to 9 across and 3-3-3. It just seems more comfortable. Also, the seats in Y are wider on the 772.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 9:47 pm
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Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

You may get $400 on a LCC plus pay for luggage. Not worth it.

Just stay in E+ on 772. Perfectly fine. No E+ on SQ but you can pay for exit row
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Old Nov 19, 13, 10:21 pm
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I know this is sacrilegious to say around here (and I've not taken this advice countless times) but just throwing it out there that you could choose not based on the miles but on the experience and not spend so many dollars out of pocket.

IAD-DOH-MAA on Emirates, MAA-HKG on Cathay and HKG-ORD-BWI on Cathay priced out for $2400 that is within your whole budget. You might not get mileage or use your, but your overall experience will probably be better in Y. AVOD is certainly better, service nicer, planes newer, not earning miles in a decreasingly valuable FF program given all the changes etc.
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Old Nov 19, 13, 11:02 pm
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I'd be lying, if I said I wasn't aware of the Emirates option, but I don't relish being stuck in 10-abreast Y on one of their 77Ws.
I have no real objections to flying Cathay or some Skyteam airline, since I agree that UA is doing its level best to ruin Mileage Plus for us lower tier members. I also looked into Cathay's Y+ product, and it looks pretty great. I guess the question becomes how much it will cost.

The other problem is that the team is more likely to book me one round trip ticket rather than 2 one ways.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 3:44 pm
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Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

I just booked Stage 1.
Dec. 25: UA4827 class H
Dec. 25: UA117 class H
---
Jan. 16: UA862 class S
Jan. 16: UA1481 class S

I booked them all with regular Y seats under the assumption that there would be a few Y+ seats available to me (as Silver member) at OLCI. Please tell me I assumed correctly.

Also, I looked at my reservation online, and it says under the final leg on UA1481 that I am CPU upgrade to First. Are these upgrades truly free, and what's the likelihood/procedure for getting them?

I will be booking Stage 2 on SQ r/t HKG-MAA later tonight or tomorrow.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 4:13 pm
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Help me get to Chennai (MAA) and HKG

Yes CPU is free and you just wait and hope they give it to you - you won't know until day of flight. And don't assume the best.
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