One of the biggest trouble with Air India being on the Star Alliance platform, is their inability to use technology. Over the years, their own Flying Returns website has been hosted on a third party server, which is a risk for me and all of you. In spite of them putting a lot of processes in place to make sure you are the rightful owner of your mileage account, these are all paper heavy and not being finished in time.
One of the first steps in the new era, however, is now live. When you log in to your Flying Returns account (if you can do it, that is!), you can then have a look at the new link which provides the opportunity to upgrade your Star Alliance flights using your Flying Returns miles. First, here is the chart which tells you how many miles it takes to upgrade on a Star Alliance flight using AI miles. Each request for upgrade costs you on a per segment basis. So if you are flying SFO-JFK-FRA-BOM, you will need to request 3 upgrades to be able to have an upgraded flight all through the way. You need to be booked in the following fare classes to be able to get an upgrade processed:
Coming to the point, when you log into your Air India Flying Returns account, you will now see a link on the side providing for upgrade with Miles
This leads you to a screen where you need to put in all the accounts you are pooling in miles from, and the number of passengers who would be making use of the upgrade request. Typically, all the passengers on a booking will be counted for an upgrade request, but if you don’t want everyone to have an upgrade, you need to call you operating carrier to split the booking.
Next, you need to authorize those accounts from where miles will be debited. Since I was already logged into my own account, I did not need to provide a password.
Subsequently, you are brought to the screen where you need to input all the details of the passenger(s) who will be travelling and need to be upgraded. You will get all these details on the ticket. One more time, I’d like to reiterate, that all passengers get upgraded on a particular PNR.
Subsequently, you go over the information one more time to check if everything is alright. If it is, they take you to the Result page, where you find out if your upgrade was processed or not. You can’t ask for an upgrade request to be processed within 24 hours of flight time, since by then the flight moves to airport control and the back end can’t do much.
This is a new functionality added to the Air India website, and Air India has not talked about it publicly yet. This may mean there is some testing going on at the moment, or results may not be completely accurate. Having said that, this is the first stop in the case of Air India Flying Returns bringing on the Star Alliance functionality on their own website, and I am happy that they have made a start at least. This could mean many other issues with Star Alliance redemptions may also be sorted at some point of time.
Are you guys aware of the functionality to upgrade *A tickets on the AI website? What do you make out of this development?