Since the devaluation of PremierMiles was announced last week, I am trying to post on all the options available for all of us to transfer into various frequent flyer programs, our hard earned PremierMiles. Yesterday, I wrote a post on Etihad Guest, and today, it is time for Air India’s Flying Returns program.
I’ve covered bits and pieces of the Air India Flying Returns program over the times. Air India joined Star Alliance last year, so your miles on AI can now be used for redemptions on Star Alliance member carriers as well.
On a whole, I find Air India’s program to be an expensive program, in comparison to Jet Airways, which is its only domestic competitor at the moment. Both programs do not charge a fuel surcharge for domestic redemptions at the moment, but airport charges and taxes are the same for both.
However, Air India tends to charge more number of miles for the same segment as Jet Airways, and of course, much more than Etihad Guest. Lets take an example of the Delhi Kolkata segment:
- Air India charges 11,000 Air India Miles
- Etihad Guest charges 6,229 Etihad miles
- Jet Airways charges 8,500 JetPrivilege Miles
The pros of this are that you can book and cancel anytime depending upon availability, however, be aware that you will pay 500 miles as cancellation fees every time, even if you are an Air India elite. Availability on domestic flights is great, and usually seats are open till the last minute.
On international flights, Air India tends to charge fuel surcharges, on their own flights, as well as partner redemptions on Star Alliance. Also, the award chart for Star Alliance redemptions is pretty much inflated! The pain point is, unless you get a real great agent on your phone line, you will most likely have to trek to your local Air India office to be able to redeem a ticket. Also, there is rumour that Air India elites only have access to the Star Alliance inventory. Though, no one I know has been able to confirm this yet, because the Air India program has an inflated chart for Star Alliance redemptions and hence, not my personal preference to redeem on *A using AI miles.
Also, it is much easier to generate Air India miles with the Air India SBI Credit Card, over the PremierMiles Credit Card, because of the ability to get milestone benefits along the way.
My rating is 4/5 for Air India Flying Returns as a transfer partner. I take away 1 point for an inflated award chart, both domestically, and internationally for Star Alliance carriers, as well as the hoops they make you jump for any sort of award redemptions.