Air India’s frequent flyer program, Flying Returns, admittedly, had a lot of loopholes in the past which allowed travel agents and other people exposed to information of AI passengers, to create frequent flyer accounts for unsuspecting passengers and gobble up the miles either for their own free tickets, or to be able to sell it to other passengers who do not know much about miles and points.
Fortunately, Air India realized this and yesterday unveiled a new process for their website, where they will be authenticating the details of the members before allowing for any redemption to be made on these accounts.
New Accounts: Basically, all new accounts being registered from December 1, 2015 will have to provide unique email addresses and phone numbers to access the Flying Returns programme, apart from providing a proof such as their passport or other ID cards (PAN/Aadhar et al).
Existing Accounts: For existing accounts, you will also have to upload your documents and a team from Air India will authenticate all accounts basis the information provided by you. Also, if duplicate emails or phone numbers are being used, these may have to be replaced to be made unique. Essentially, think of this as an audit on your account, except, this is in your own good and enhances the security of your account with Air India.
Given that the problem with Air India is also of existing fraudulent accounts, or at least that is my guess, they cannot follow the path Jet Airways followed a few months ago while launching their new website to de-duplicate accounts.
So I tried to log into my account last night, and here is the new screen I was presented with:
I was asked to fill up the information on my account all over again, apart from my name and my date of birth, and as proof of me being me, I also uploaded a copy of my passport. For Indian members, you could use your PAN Card/Aadhar Card as well, while for non-Indian members, apparently the passport is the only option. Subsequently, I was asked to verify my mobile phone and email address by SMS validation.
Once I was able to authenticate my account, I landed up on a new screen which displayed a summary of my AI Flying Returns profile, including the tier points they have allocated to me so far. Perhaps, this is a part of the changes they will be introducing with the Flying Returns program. You also note that verification is Pending for my account.
For all the security features added, I do not think Air India solved one basic problem yet, which is to move the Air India Flying Returns systems on to their own servers.
So, if you are an active Flying Returns member, you should go ahead and do maintenance on your account right away to be able to redeem your own Air India miles. If you face a problem, you should get on a call with Air India to figure out what is wrong.
Readers, what do you think of this change from Air India. Cumbersome? Or a step in the right direction?