Air India’s Flying Returns program is the only Indian program which has access to Star Alliance. Now, this would have been a great USP for the airline given the differentiation they have on the front where one could earn elite qualification miles flying with over 25 airlines around the world.
Important to note that Air India did not have a formal status guideline for the longest time. However, around the time they entered Star Alliance, they formalised these guidelines, making top-tier status available at 75,000 status miles.
Right about that time, Air India also launched a new offering with SBI Card offering status on the airline for a certain amount of spending per annum. Subsequently, they reversed the decision last year which would have meant a lot of elites would have been out of the system.
We all know that Air India had 2 million members. This was something that is now validated by Air India themselves.
Here is how the membership base on the elite tiers has moved over the years. Clearly, a lot of silver and Gold members were lost after the benefits were withdrawn to Air India SBI Cardmembers.
This is interesting data because this gives us an insight into how there are tonnes of people flying Air India, but perhaps not enough to reach one of their top tiers. This means so many points must be just expiring every year given people won’t be making enough miles to get a redemption done. Given this, the change to Air India’s program where miles would be easier to use for redemptions should be a great idea.
Clearly, Air India has figured it does not want to go down the path of being a mileage factory. For them, they’d likely work more as a frequent flyer program and they are rewarding their top-tier elites and which is the path they’ve set course to now.