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The Wandering Aramean’s adventures in booking Indian air tickets brought back memories of The Rapid Traveler’s own frustrations. An Indian colleague of The Rapid Traveler introduced him to two great resources.
Thomas Cook India’s booking engine captures a number of Indian carriers not listed on most international booking engines. Searches for the New Delhi – Mumbai route on sites like Kayak generally only list Air India, Jet Airways, JetLite and Kingfisher. Thomas Cook throws in GoAir, IndiGo, and SpiceJet. This is more important on routes served by fewer airlines, but options are always good. It is worth checking the airline websites themselves to compare fares, but Thomas Cook is a good entry point. The Rapid Traveler enjoyed SpiceJet on a Chennai – Mumbai flight.
Air India Express does not seem to participate with third-party booking engines, but they have some great Indian and South Asia routes with low fares. The Rapid Traveler flew them Colombo, Sri Lanka to Chennai, India. Typically their flight times are limited and inconvenient. Booking with them can be a hassle, two years ago even requiring a fax of The Rapid Traveler’s credit card, but they may have improved.
Air Asia should not be forgotten if reaching India from Asian gateways Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Online transactions in India require Verified by Visa/MasterCard SecureCode/American Express, see this post for details. And this 3-part series on Indian visas, re-entry restrictions, and protected/restricted areas (part 1, part 2, and part 3).