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Regular Travel To India

Old 25th Jun 2012, 20:06
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Regular Travel To India

After a bit of advice, looks like I'm going tome making a large number of work related visits to India over the next few months. Having no experience of travelling to asia, and with work restricting me to economy class, I want to try and stick to one airline for all trips, I guess what I'm asking is who should I go with. I'm based in the Northwest so transiting in UAE seems to make sense rather than messing around with Heathrow. Main priorites are as follows...

Options are either Etihad or Emirates from Manchester or BA via Heathrow though they don't fly as regular as the UAE based airlines. Main points for me to consider are.....

1) Comfort of flight, IFE, food etc
2) Frequent flyer points/miles
3) Ease of transit, DXB/LHR/Abu Dhabi

Thanks in advance.
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Old 25th Jun 2012, 20:45
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Phil - are the legs to/from the UK aimed solely at Mumbai and Bangalore or some of the other airports in India as well ?
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Old 25th Jun 2012, 20:58
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I would avoid EK as you will be transitting DXB at the same time as everyone else in transit to/from the sub-continent. Unless you have lounge access, which you might consider paying for, it's a ghastly experience.

AUH is probably better, the same will apply but the numbers are smaller.

Depending on where you have to go in India, I would use KLM via AMS or LH via MUC (but they may not have the right schedules and destinations).
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 00:19
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In all likelyhood more than just Mumbai and Bangalore and I don't particularly fancy internal flights. Hence the appeal of EK on the face of it. BA don't fly to several of the possible destinations.
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 01:44
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Might the direct from LHR with Jet Airways or Air India be a better option? Much less mucking about half way there. I know Air India have a BD code so the BMI codeshare is still in play,
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 02:28
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As a happy Emirates customer I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with Tableview on this one.

It's true that Dubai can be a bit of a nightmare to transit- long overnight transfers are particularly awful- but MAN has three flights a day to DXB so there's a good chance you'll be able to book a connection which doesn't involve too much waiting around. Daytime connections tend to be fine and if you have more than around 5 hours between flights then you are entitled to a free meal voucher (although they never tell people this ).

On PhilW1981's first two criteria, EK are very strong (in my opinion). They operate a fleet of comfortable modern aircraft, their onboard service and catering options are usually excellent and every passenger has their own personal in flight entertainment. This is usually an 'on demand' system allowing you to watch an extensive selection of videos at leisure (although some of their older airframes have multiple channels instead- you can check on their website before you book). EK also serve a lot of Indian destinations directly from Dubai which could be beneficial if you are traveling to destinations beyond the major international gateways.

I'm also a big fan of Skywards (Emirates frequent flyer programme). I've found it to be pretty good in terms of mileage accrual and redemption options. Despite this I doubt you'd earn enough miles to do anything decent. You'll earn at least 3,750 miles for every trip to India (possibly more). A reward flight between the UK and Dubai will set you back 42,500 miles- that's a lot of trips to India . Skywards miles remain valid for around three years so if you expect to do a bit more traveling during this time then it might be worthwhile chasing the miles. Having said that, experience has taught me that you're usually best off treating frequent flyer programmes as added bonuses rather than letting them influence your choice of airline...

Last edited by Anansis; 26th Jun 2012 at 02:43.
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 09:47
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Stepping outside your stated boundaries for a moment I hope you have arrangements in place regarding Indian Visas. Last I heard (admittedly several years) the arragements were not terribly efficient.
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 10:21
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Agreed that EK are excellent in the air. It's the DXB transits that are the problem, especially at night.

EK has 3 flights MAN-DXB but only one arrives during the day (0705). The others are 2000 and 0015. They have daytime connctions to some Indian destinations off that 0705 arrival but fairly longish transit times. My view on that would be make the most of it by getting a lounge pass and using those few hours to put our feet up. The transit then becomes bearable.

It really depends on your destination. A direct flight from the UK is invariably going to be better than a transit en route. Ultimately it will come down to personal choice (unless budget driven).

As far as visas are concerned, when I was going to India regularly (about 10 years ago) I must have had a multi entry visa valid for a year, as I only remember ever having to apply for a visa once amd I went at least 5 or 6 times (on LH). It's not fun - if possible get a visa agency to do it for you.
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 10:48
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Don't completely disregard BA as things have improved over the last year or two.
They have a reasonable number of destinations in India and Terminal 5 is ok for connections.
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 13:20
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Originally Posted by PhilW1981 View Post
After a bit of advice, looks like I'm going tome making a large number of work related visits to India over the next few months. Having no experience of travelling to asia, and with work restricting me to economy class, I want to try and stick to one airline for all trips, I guess what I'm asking is who should I go with. I'm based in the Northwest so transiting in UAE seems to make sense rather than messing around with Heathrow. Main priorites are as follows...

Options are either Etihad or Emirates from Manchester or BA via Heathrow though they don't fly as regular as the UAE based airlines. Main points for me to consider are.....

1) Comfort of flight, IFE, food etc
2) Frequent flyer points/miles
3) Ease of transit, DXB/LHR/Abu Dhabi

Thanks in advance.
A couple of points.

With regard to Emirates, some of their flights to / from Manchester are operated using 777 aircraft. Be aware that the economy configuration in Emirates 777's is 10 seats across which some may find cramped (some carriers to the Middle East have a more spacious 9 across configuration).

I've found Etihad a mixed bag. Good IFE, OK food, fair to middling service, rather cramped seats. Abu Dhabi, though, is probably the most attractive and straightforward transit option.

Is there any reason you don't mention Qatar Airways out of Manchester? I've never flown them so I can't speak from personal experience, but they have modern aircraft and a superb reputation. They also have a FF scheme. Main drawback is transiting through Doha, which is no longer fit for purpose.
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Old 26th Jun 2012, 20:37
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Thanks for all the replies folks, food for thought indeed.
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Old 27th Jun 2012, 13:07
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Have to agree with Anansis having used that route via Dubai many times with EK for all the reasosns mentioned. Doha ok but they do not have as many connections as EK. I have to say that only done that route in eco on 2 occasions so my knowledege on that is limited (was A330 10yrs ago).
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Old 27th Jun 2012, 20:10
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Other options from Manchester include Brussels Airlines, which codeshares with Jet Airways from BRU to Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi; Swiss via Zurich; Air France; Turkish (Man U supporters only); and Finnair.
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Old 28th Jun 2012, 10:38
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Im with Tableview and ConstantFlyer. Do your transfers in Europe as much as possible. Very few Indian destinations are not serviced by at least one of LH, LX, KLM, BA, etc. And I prefer the peace of mind I get from those routings.
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Old 28th Jun 2012, 15:28
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I have tried EK, EY, QR, 9W and BA in the last two years for my travel to India and Bangladesh.

Both EK and EY use 777 equipment with a 3-4-3 configuration in Y class, whereas the plane was designed for a 3-3-3 abreast seating.

IFE in both EK and EY is very good. Transit at Dubai can be a nightmare - even the EK lounge for C class and higher tier Skywards members can be overcrowded. AUH is definitely better in that respect.

QR does not always have seamless connections to and from MAN (especially to and from Dhaka).

9W was excellent the last time I flew with them on a long haul flight (LHR to BOM and v.v.).

LH: transit at FRA is best avoided, MUC is better. However, IFE is still very basic across much of the LH fleet (overhead monitors in the aisles, for instance) and they are geared very heavily towards carrying Indian pax from North America to India and v.v., so don't expect any German food on the menu
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Old 28th Jun 2012, 22:48
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Emirates economy as mentioned can be 10 across. It's awful unless you are tiny. BA much better.
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Old 16th Oct 2012, 22:02
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Right, things have changed, a 3 month delay, solely visiting Bangalore on a semi regular basis but Business class is now ok, does this change any of the above advice? I'm definitely erring towards Emirates.

Last edited by PhilW1981; 16th Oct 2012 at 22:04.
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Old 17th Oct 2012, 06:54
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One of the MAN flights is A380 and Biz class is the best you will find anywhere. It's as good as most other first class products. There's even a lounge at the back of the cabin with a free bar!
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Old 17th Oct 2012, 13:14
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I flew recently with Jet Airways Business and Economy, International and Domestic and they were excellent in all regards - give it a try.
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Old 17th Oct 2012, 22:23
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Reguler user on Business Class EK product on the routes you are discussing over the last few years and would go with EK everytime IMHO. Also pick up and drop off service from home in Business Class very good and saves those tired drives too and from airport As has been said you do have to check arrival times as you can end up on some flights arriving early hrs of the morning, so check before booking but service good and ICE very good .
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