Air India has been working to get ready for the Star Alliance, and one of the common question I have been asked over the past few days was about the benefits that members will be able to get as Star Alliance elites. I had made a post last week about my expectation on what will be the benefits for AI flyers on joining the Star Alliance. One of the remarks was on the expected outcome of status equalisation with Star Alliance tiers. Here was what I wrote:

  • Air India elites will now be Star Alliance Elites: Air India has 4 membership levels: Base, Silver, Gold and Platinum called Member, Silver Edge, Golden Edge and Maharajah Club. You cannot earn elite miles by doing anything else except flying Air India further and further at the moment. This should change to include *A carriers soon, and I expect that there will be a segment count kind of system as well, rather than just flown miles soon. Anyhow. AI Platinum & Gold members will be Star Alliance Gold level members soon, which allows them priority check-in, airport lounge access across 1000 lounges in the *A network, priority boarding, extra baggage allowance & priority baggage handling.

Now, the first set of communication from Air India has gone out to elite members, and confirms my theory to an extent. Air India Platinum (Maharajah Club) and Gold (Golden Edge Club) members will indeed be mapped to Star Alliance Gold tier and Air India Silver Edge members will be mapped to Star Alliance Silver Tier.

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Now, Air India offers membership to these tiers on the following benchmarks:

  • Silver Edge Club: 25000 Status Miles in the past 365 days
  • Golden Edge Club: 50000 Status Miles in the past 365 days
  • The Maharajah Club: 75000 Status Miles in the past 365 days

Be award that status miles cannot be earned via credit card spends or transfer of miles. Status Miles on Air India can only be earned by travelling on Air India flights at the moment, and on Star Alliance carriers as of 11 July 2014 onwards. You need to include your AI membership number for accrual of miles to your AI program though.

The Air India Flying Returns program, is however stingy in terms of offering Status Miles. Like I wrote a year ago, they don’t offer 100% status miles on flying discounted economy tickets, and there is no way to earn status by flying a number of segments or earning a number of tier points. You just need to earn those number of Status Miles to get there. I am hoping with the Star Alliance entry, they change their earning chart as well.

However, they make it easy for you to earn status by doing credit card spend as well. Air India SBI Credit Card is one of the best out there in terms of mileage earning on Air India, and you get Silver Status on spending INR 500,000 per annum, and Gold Status on spending INR 10,00,000 per annum on this credit card. Not just that, you could also apply for a status match as a SBI AI credit card holder if you are an elite with another airline. I got my Air India Gold status in this manner, and now I see Air India as an option to travel across India as well, and not just Jet Airways.

In summary, Air India’s Star Alliance entry will help you earn and burn your mileage on AI across the various *A members, and also get you benefits basis your AI status while travelling other *A carriers.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Air India confirms benefits for elite members on joining Star Alliance”

  1. Arun Baheti says:

    Thanks for all these articles on AI. Any idea how many Gold level elites AI has? There is much speculation on other discussion boards about the AI elites potentially flooding certain hub lounges.

  2. Ajay Awtaney says:

    @Arun, I don’t have the numbers, and I don’t think they will flood so many hubs. In fact, Air India did not even have a clear cut system for elite recognition till a couple of years back. These tiers existed but no one knew how to get in. So, I don’t expect a flood. Even if they do, they are just there like the rest of them ;)

  3. Bansal says:

    Hi. So if I am flying via United Airlines, can I quote my AI membership number at the check-in counter? Will the United Airlines flight miles be added to AI miles?

  4. Ajay Awtaney says:

    @Bansal you can quote your AI membership number at check-in or before in the ticket itself and your miles would be added to your AI miles

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