The City of Pearls: Hyderabad, India

The City of Pearls: Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad sits at an ancient crossroads of commerce, and was once famous as a pearl and diamond trading center. Still known as the City of Pearls, its centuries-old shopping bazaars offer modern and exotic goods from all over India. This 400-year-old city on the banks of the Musi River is full of striking Qutb arches, royal palaces and minarets.

Parades and festivals often light up the city’s streets; its strong religious cultures are always finding a reason to celebrate. The city’s diverse cultural influences are also reflected in its distinct and amazing cuisine. Restaurants in Hyderabad offer a variety of rice, wheat and meat dishes, all infused with the best of Indian, Turkish and Arabic spices.

The No. 1 attraction and the city’s icon is Charminar, literally translated as Four Minarets. This exquisite structure, with towers rising 500 feet into the sky, combines a Hindu temple and a mosque. It offers panoramic views of the city from atop the minarets.

There are many other historic and beautiful structures that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to Hyderabad every year, including such must-see attractions in the Old City as Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace and Golconda Fort.

Several carriers in all three of the major airline alliances fly to Hyderabad, but using American Airlines AAdvantage miles gives you the most options.

The ancient Charminar
The ancient Charminar

AAdvantage Miles and the oneworld alliance

The following oneworld alliance members fly to Hyderabad:

  • British Airways via London
  • Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong
  • Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur
  • Qatar Airways via Doha

Etihad Airways is not a oneworld member, but it is an American Airlines partner. It flies to Hyderabad via Abu Dhabi.

British Airways adds huge fuel surcharges to long-haul flights. If you fly to Hyderabad on British Airways, consider reducing your cash outlay by flying the first leg to London on any other oneworld carrier, including American Airlines.

Round-trip tickets from the continental U.S. cost:

  • 90,000 miles in economy
  • 135,000 in business
  • 180,000 in first

The famous Bonalu Festival in Hyderabad
The famous Bonalu Festival in Hyderabad

MileagePlus Miles and the Star Alliance

The following Star Alliance members fly to Hyderabad:

  • Air India via Chicago, Dubai, Delhi or Mumbai
  • Thai Airways via Bangkok

Air India is the only airline that flies to Hyderabad nonstop from the United States.

Round-trip tickets cost:

  • 85,000 miles in economy
  • 140,000 to 180,000 in business
  • 160,000 to 280,000 in first

SkyMiles and the SkyTeam

Saudia is the only SkyTeam member that flies to Hyderabad. Flights depart from Dammam, Jeddah or Riyadh.

A small mosque on Musi River
A small mosque on Musi River

Round-trip tickets cost:

  • 80,000 miles in economy
  • 140,000 in business

SkyMiles cannot be redeemed for first class awards.

While it’s usually not the case, Delta SkyMiles offer the best value for economy flights to Hyderabad. It may be worth it, though, to spend the extra 5,000 miles to fly nonstop from Chicago on Star Alliance partner, Air India.