Air India Flying Returns plans to go revenue based (on an already revenue-based program)

What is Air India’s plans with Flying Returns, their frequent flyer program is something they do keep close to their chest. Last year, when they sent me my membership kit, their plans were to introduce a frequent flyer program where they would add more ways to qualify for tiers, and would put more miles in your hands. I wrote:

But the big one, which should really make this a rule-based program and easier to achieve status with, was the part where they will introduce a tier-points mechanism to track segment and class of travel. To get to the Maharajah Club, all you need to do, is to get 120 tier points.

And that was their plan indeed. Till they figured out they had a massive problem and they started to weed out accounts with paperwork, and rolled back on some of their promises including 500 miles per segment.

I just got my new kit in hand, and it had more sights about what Air India is planning to do going forward with their program:

  • Ability to pay with miles for date changes and excess baggage (Bad value for miles usage I guess!)
  • Family pooling, still on the plate (Very helpful!)
  • Upgrade vouchers for international segments (which would be nice)

But the biggest changes proposed or already in the works perhaps are:

It is also proposed to recognize two additional criteria for tier upgrade which are the fare amount spent and the number of flights taken in the preceding 12 months.

If revenue is one of the 3 criteria applied to upgrade tiers, it is nice! This will give high spenders an opportunity to come to a premium tier faster. However, if this is played like United and Delta implemented in the USA, where a minimum spend is a prerequisite apart from other conditions to get to a certain tier, then this spells havoc!

Alongside, I believe Air India’s program is already revenue-based in a way. The number of miles credited to you are determined by the distance flown, and a %multiplier is applied depending on the class of booking. This change was introduced in December 2015. This means if you bought a cheap ticket in E class, you’ll only get 10% of the miles, which hardly amount to much.


We’ll have to see how long this would take to implement the changes in the Air India program, however, I’m not very happy with the fact that revenue-based is coming soon!

Frequent Flyer programs are a tool with the airline to encourage loyalty, i.e., to encourage repeat business. When you make fare a condition, like AI already has, but insists it will do so even more, then it just means that the relationship with the customer is transactional. Because if every customer were to book full fare tickets with them, they would hardly have many customers because not everyone can afford to pay full price.

Guys, what do you think of the latest announcements by Air India?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. It is one of the worst managed program managed by a third party ICLP loyalties , they do not want to add the points. Misṭ of the time email sent to them are bounced. I got my travel retro points by writing to the M.D. Recently Twice. One travel was to Singapore in 2014.

  2. I don’t know how many people in India generally care about frequent flyer programs. And given the fact that generally nobody want’s to voluntarily fly AI, I don’t understand their attempt to make it harder to earn status, miles and redeem points.

  3. It’s been close to 2 years since I received a kit! Everytime I write to them they say it’s in printing! How did you managed to get one.

  4. Frankly speaking, I don’t see the point of going for FR miles anymore.
    The only sweet spots for me are Domestic Redemptions, especially when they offer 40% off.

    I’ve got enough FR miles that I won’t go out of my way to hoard them anymore.

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