Air India’s Flying Returns now has some frequent flyer benefits!

I have been a dormant Air India Flying Returns member for the longest time. Air India was my first business travel airline, since it was the preferred carrier for my employer then, and back in the days I did fly a lot on them till other airlines such as Jet Airways found their way into this monopoly.

At that point of time, I was a novice in the points game, and for my life could not figure out the perks of being loyal to an airline, except for collecting miles on my frequent flyer account. With Air India, the elite perks were always not very well defined, and it was a mystery how the guy next to me got preferential treatment over the next. Some say you had to be well-connected within the airline to get into the higher tiers. However, it seems to have changed recently when Air India prepared for its entry into Star Alliance. It could also be a pre-cursor to AI finally going on board the Star Alliance, someday!

Let’s have a look at the Air India Flying Returns program all over again, if you do a lot of flying with AI as of today, or plan to do so in the future. You will find most of the benefits to be standardised now with other airlines in India.

 

Silver Edge club (Lower-mid tier)

Benefits:

  • 10% mileage point bonus over and above the normal accrual on AI designated flights.
  • Excess baggage allowance of 10 Kgs. on AI operated flights.
  • 1 additional piece (upto 23kgs) additional free baggage allowed on India – USA/ Canada and VV and India-Japan and VV routes.
  • Dedicated check-in counters at select airports.
  • Priority Check In and Boarding.
  • One upgrade voucher at the time of invitation to the Club.
  • Priority delivery of baggage.

Qualification: 25,000 status miles in 365 days.

 

Golden Edge club (Upper-mid tier)

Benefits:

  • 25% mileage point bonus over and above the normal accrual on AI designated flights.
  • Excess baggage allowance of 15 Kgs. on AI operated flights.
  • 1 additional piece (upto 23kgs) additional free baggage allowed on India – USA/ Canada and VV and India-Japan and VV routes.
  • Dedicated check-in counters at select airports.
  • Priority Check In and Boarding.
  • Use of Lounges at select domestic and international airports traveling on AI designated flights
  • Two upgrade voucher at the time of invitation to the Club.
  • Priority delivery of baggage.
  • Fixed cancellation/refund/rebooking fee of INR 200/- for tickets on all fare types issued on domestic sectors on AI flights

Qualification: 50,000 status miles in 365 days.

 

The Maharaja club (Top tier)

Benefits:

  • 30% mileage point bonus over and above the normal accrual on AI designated flights.
  • Excess baggage allowance of 20 Kgs. on AI operated flights.
  • 1 additional piece (upto 23kgs) additional free baggage allowed on India – USA/ Canada and VV and India-Japan and VV routes.
  • Dedicated check-in counters at select airports.
  • Priority Check In and Boarding.
  • Use of Lounges at select domestic and international airports traveling on AI designated flights
  • Three upgrade voucher at the time of invitation to the Club.
  • Priority delivery of baggage.
  • Fixed cancellation/refund/rebooking fee of INR 100/- for tickets on all fare types issued on domestic sectors on AI flights

Qualification: 75,000 status miles in 365 days.

 

Scoring upgrades with these upgrade vouchers is possible only on domestic segments unlike the Jet Privilege and King Club programs where you could use the upgrade vouchers for international upgrades as well.

Status Miles can be earned as per the following chart, which is clearly oriented towards revenue generation:

AI chart

You can also earn status miles with partner airlines Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines as per the charts below:

AI chart - LH

AI chart - SQ

 

But why bother with Air India mileage collection?

 

While this is not documented, but experience reveals that there is almost no capacity control on Air India flights for award tickets, and the rates are very reasonable at most times (in line with other airlines, or sometimes very good!)

Take a look below, where you get to travel BOM-DEL-LHR in business class for 19,000 miles on Air India. And if you sit up front, AI’s premium cabins are very good, with all the new planes they have put out on their key routes.

AI Redemption

So, this is why Air India’s Flying Returns program could really deliver some good returns to all of you! You can play around with the program at www.flyingreturns.co.in.

 

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. The Air India Flying Returns is complete waste. They do not upgrade the miles, theres all old hogs sitting in the office, who give a shit to their duties. Any other airline company is far better than Air India. DO NOT travel in this airline.

  2. I have been using AI for a few years, but have never been able to book online with miles. Never even seen the screen that you show above. Had to always call the ever helpful call center. Hope that Star alliance has some impact on them.

  3. Hi. I have just created a frequent flyer account but have travelled with Air India in the past in last 12 months. Can those travels be added to my miles? Or just the only travels which are made after creating the account?

  4. Its a pain redeeming miles as their online facility never works. And collecting the booked ticket is another pain as they do not provide complete list of documents to be showed/ submitted upon collection of booked PNR.

    • @kkavneet my past experiences with them have been reasonably good, except for a short while when they had totally closed online bookings with miles.

  5. Our membership nos. are 1006003521 & 105968542 respectively and aquired mileage points are 27510 +38753 ( total =66263 ) .We intend to visit Chennai from Kolkata on 20/12 & return on 29/12/13 . With redeemption of above mileage points can we get a free return ticket for both of us. If so, what should the tax component , can it be booked on line. Please confirm by return mail

  6. My query is about the missing miles . Completed two trips last year . Provided my membership no. at the time of the booking . As yet received no credit. Only realised that when I received my statement . From 18th of December I have been trying very hard to get those missing miles credits by giving them the copies of the electronic tkt which I had received by email at that time only to find that they keep asking me to scan the boarding pass which I did not keep for the simple reason that I would not need them since I provided my ffp membership no at the time of booking .
    Same thing happened in 2011 but when I requested the missing miles they were credited with electronic tkt copy at that time .I do’nt understand why they can not do the same since it is inefficency on there part . Please advise.
    Very disappointed with there service .

  7. Myself & my wife have aquired a total points of 66000 miles, and intend to visit Cochin sometimes between 15th to 25th December 2012. Will our points cover free return for both of us. If yes what we should to get this free ticket.

  8. I don’t know if you got my previous comment. There seems to be a glitch and the price for just the BOM-DEL segment is being shown. It should really be 34,500 for BOM-DEL-LHR.

    Isn’t there YQ on international awards on AI&IT&9W? Total fees comes out to 10k. Flights to US would cost 14-15k.

  9. I was really surprised that it takes just 9500 miles for a BOM-LHR award. I checked a few dates and I believe there’s a glitch whereby they are asking the price of just the first leg(BOM-DEL). It looks like BOM-DEL-LHR should really cost 34,500 miles. Are you actually able to book a seat for that price?

    I know AI doesn’t charge YQ for domestic awards. They do charge it for international awards, don’t they? Isn’t this the case with IT and 9W too? The BOM-LHR flight would then cost around INR 10k. Flights to US would cost INR 14-15k.

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