Last year, Air India gave us a sneak peek into their family pooling option. Now 350 days after it was promised, the Air India Flying Returns family pooling feature is up and running since October 2. They are calling it ‘Mera Parivar’, which translates into ‘My Family’. This makes Air India the second Indian airline after Jet Airways to introduce such a feature.
Salient features of the Air India version of Family Pooling are:
- One head of family account has to be created.
- Between 1 to 9 family members can then be added to the pool. This includes you, your spouse, parents, kids, siblings, parents-in-law and spouse’s siblings.
- You cannot transfer Flying Returns (FR) Points from one account to another.
- You can pool Flying Returns Points which are yet to be credited from travel completed in the last twelve months.
- Flying Returns Points earned on past and future travels can be split in the following ways:
- 100% goes to the Head of Family
- 50% goes to the Head of Family and the rest 50% goes to the family member.
- 25% goes to the Head of Family and the rest 75% goes to the family member.
The way this featured is designed reminds me of Emirates’ family pooling scheme where you pool your family’s Skywards miles into one account.
How does Family Pooling work?
The Air India FFP is generous, in the sense that it allows for the entire family from your own parents and your parents in law to join in as one big family. However, you first need to create a family pool.
Look for the ‘Mera Parivar’ tab once you log into your Flying Returns account. Air India claims that you will be charged some points as a fee for setting up the pool, however in Ajay’s experience, no miles were charged to his account.
You’d have to choose the point split while setting up the pool, so be sure about how you’d want to split the miles. Once that’s done, add your family member to the pool by entering their 9 digit Air India Flying Return number. You’ll see that the other columns such as Date of Birth will auto-populate when you enter the membership number. Next, select your relationship with the member.
After that, an online confirmation request will be sent to your family member’s account. And once the family member confirms, he/she gets added to the pool. Be careful though, as these folks will be locked to the pool for one year, so if you end up adding someone random by mistake, they are on the hook because of you!
How does this benefit you?
Not everyone in your family may travel a lot. So bringing them all together in one account is going to help avoid the breakage of too many small miles.
In Air India’s case, you can include both sides of your family (your in-laws included) as a part of the pool. Make a bit of an effort towards creating this pool, and the next thing you know is that you may have enough Flying Returns points for a redemption. And it’s not just Air India you can fly, you can redeem these points for Star Alliance partner redemptions as well.
Should you go for it?
Many times, we see that a lot of orphaned points are lying in accounts of our family members who don’t travel that often. If this is the situation in your household too, maybe it’s a good idea to consolidate the earnings of your family members into one account. After all, one reward ticket or upgrade is better than none.
Air India’s new family pooling feature is a mixed bag. On one hand, you can credit an extended bag of Flying Returns points into the pool which is good. On the other, pooling is valid only with prospective effect, which means points already lying in another family member accounts cannot be transferred. This is not a unique idea, of course, programs like British Airways Executive Club and JetPrivilege allow you to dip into older earnings for a while now. Maybe we can hope for this facility on a future update.
Have you tried creating an Air India Flying Returns family pool? Do share your initial thoughts with us.