Air India trialing free international upgrades to Elites

Air India Flying Returns is revamping themselves in many a ways. One of the new projects they are trialing right now is complimentary space available airport upgrades for International Sectors on Air India flights.

Air India has sent out communications to their Platinum (The Maharajah Club) and Gold Tier (Golden Edge Club) members that they would be offered free upgrades, on a space available basis, for travel through July 31, 2017. Currently, the upgrades are only available for business class to first class upgrades, which essentially limits it to a smaller subset of people right now.


To get the upgrade, you need to book a revenue ticket in J class, and then send an email to along with a copy of the e-ticket to be able to make a standby reservation in first class for you as well. Since the tickets are available only on a limited basis, the airline has also set out a few rules:

  • The Maharajah Club members get priority over Golden Edge Club members
  • Upgrades to be processed in order of priority from higher to lower revenue fare classes
  • As a tie breaker, when tier and revenue classes will be the same, the members with larger number of status points will get a preference.

It seems they did get quite some response to the first wave of this communication, that they have now restricted these upgrades only to C/D/J revenue fares and left out the Z class.

Currently, the Air India Boeing 777s and 747s, where the First Class cabin is available, fly on to the following destinations. Washington DC will be added to this list in a couple of months.

  • San Francisco SFO
  • New York JFK
  • New York EWR
  • Chicago ORD
  • London LHR
  • Jeddah JED
  • Riyadh RUH

These flights operate from the following bases in India: Mumbai, Delhi, Cochin & Hyderabad. Here is our review of Air India First Class to the US.

I think this is a great initiative from Air India, and I’m waiting to hear about some success stories on this pilot project. Have you been upgraded J to F on Air India recently?

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