Air India Flying Returns is a part of the Star Alliance, and this gives them access to the inventory across the Star Alliance network. While their redemption values across the network are bad, since the redemption miles are more on Star Alliance than their own network, in the USA they do offer some great redemptions.
The usual redemption rates for Air India miles across the USA are:
- Flight distance of 0-500 miles: 5000 AI Miles
- Flight distance of 501-1500 miles: 10000 AI Miles
- Flight distance of 1501-2500 miles: 15000 AI Miles
- Flight distance of 2500+ miles: 30000 AI Miles
These rates are for economy class travel. Since the travel is intra-USA, this implies travel on United.
Now, on the occasion of Easter, Air India is running a special promotion, where they are offering these redemptions at a 40% discount.
This means that the redemption rates are as follows:
- Flight distance of 0-500 miles: 3000 AI Miles
- Flight distance of 501-1500 miles: 6000 AI Miles
- Flight distance of 1501-2500 miles: 9000 AI Miles
- Flight distance of 2500+ miles: 18000 AI
For business class, this would be twice the amount, and for first class, it would be thrice the number of miles. United domestic flights premium cabin are coded as F & A class, which means you’d need 3x the number of miles for redemptions.
There are some interesting flights which could come cheap. For instance, NYC-WAS is 207 miles, and would cost 3000 Miles on Air India redemption. NYC-LAX would now cost 9000 AI Miles redemption for a cross country flight at 2464 miles flying distance. It is only when you want to fly all the way to Hawaii or Alaska does the 2500 miles barrier breach.
How to book?
The Air India website has some ideas. Of course, you need to pay the USD 5.60 fees per sector. The promotion ends on 0700 IST on Tuesday 18 April, 2017 which means 2130 EST on Monday 17 April, 2017. You can book up to 331 days out.
Apart from this, Air India charges INR 1000 per sector booked of their own. To search for award space, head on to United.com and look for saver level award space. Then call the India number 1800 180 1407 or the US number 1800 223 7776, and validate your account information before you feed the agent the ticket details you exactly want.
Is it a good deal?
It depends. On United’s own program, these tickets for sub 500-mile flying would be charged at 10000 United miles. But you pay INR 1000 (USD 15) to ticket it as well per sector/flight. So it does make sense if you do have any Air India miles on you.
Are you going to take advantage of the Air India Award Chart to take you to through the USA?