Last week, I put out my first thoughts on the Air India Flying Returns’ program, after they joined in the Star Alliance. One of my first observations was that it is more expensive to burn on Star Alliance partners than to burn on Air India’s own metal for international travel.
In the comments section, reader Krishnakumar makes a note:
Just spoke to Flying Returns agent over the phone. He says that since I am Base Member of flying returns, I cannot redeem AI miles on Star alliance. You need to be Silver , gold or Maharaja member !
To which I was very surprised. However, today he came back reconfirming this statement:
I reconfirmed. FR told me that one has to be Silver and above to be able to burn FR miles on any Star Alliance Airline.
Other than flying AI more, is there any quick way of getting Silver status on FR? Of course SBI AIR India card gives you silver status after spending 5 Lacs which I feel is time consuming and not very efficient way just for getting silver status.(I would rather spend 5 lacs on Citibank PM than SBI) .
Now, this sounds very surprising to me, and if it is true, then it does not sound very right that Air India bars some of their members from gaining access to the Star Alliance inventory. In fact, except for publishing the award charts and routing rules, Air India has not published/updated any terms and conditions to this effect about how Star Alliance earn and burn will work. For instance, there is not even clarification right now if the miles earned on Star Alliance carriers will be elite qualifying miles or just plain redeemable miles.
While I am trying to find out this first hand, I just wanted to check the experience of other readers. Have you heard or experienced the same thing?