One of the use for Air India Flying Returns miles was to apply them on Upgrades for domestic flights. About three months ago, one fine day, Air India decided to change all the nuances of their frequent flyer program. While the award charts for AI and Star Alliance redemptions went up crazy, one of the changes was also on the ability to apply your miles for an upgrade to your ticket for a seat in a higher cabin.
I’d almost forgotten about this little nuance, till I was going through FlyerTalk today, and I noticed this incident:
wanted to upgrade a del-hyd flight the other day & ai now wants 17.5k miles for the upgrade….it used to be 4.5k miles earlier so now its almost 4 times the amount….
So I went over to the Flying Returns website, where all they say about redeeming for upgrades is:
Flying Returns members can also redeem miles for upgrading the eligible paid class tickets in domestic and international network of Air India. The miles required for economy to business class upgrade depend on the RBD/Booking class of the Economy class ticket to be upgraded and range from 60% to 190% of normal economy class redemption miles for that sector.
Sure enough, there was no way to find out the number of miles to redeem on the website. Amusingly, it costs 20,000 miles to book a redemption ticket in Business Class, so I am wondering why would someone want to pay money, and then also pay 17,500 miles to upgrade to business class when they can pay slightly more and just redeem for business class directly.
Another problem that comes apart from the lack of transparency on how many miles required for upgrade, is the fact that Air India wants you to go over all the way to the city office to get an upgrade processed, while they could have done it on the phone before. Wonder what causes that change of heart?
Air India has lost the edge. While they should have been focusing on rewarding frequent flyers who are sticking with them in spite of their bad reputation, their continuous tantrums as an airline and so on, they are just pushing them away by making it very difficult to redeem their miles in a reasonable fashion. Perhaps they should stop claiming the false slogan that they are the World’s Most Rewarding Airline Loyalty Programme, and change their copy to this:
What do you think about the recent changes to Air India Flying Returns? I am still getting to the bottom of this pit.