Has Air India Flying Returns simplified earning and redemptions?

There are a tonne of things going on at Air India. Some of these we know about, such as the new aircraft order. Others, we have to sniff around and find out by ourselves. I’m still figuring out this one myself, so I am putting it out as a question rather than an answer for now.

Has Air India overly simplified their earn and burn for the Flying Returns members?

Air India’s erstwhile representation of the Flying Returns programme used to credit points to Air India members based on distance flown as well as the Booking Class of the ticket. That meant if you booked a cheap economy ticket, they would go down to the exact ticket RBD/ fare code and credit points to you accordingly. However, now Air India has moved to fare families to offer you points on your tickets (where many RBDs/Booking Classes are clubbed under one fare family). Both Earning and Burning have moved to this model, at least by the visual representation presented by Air India on their newly refreshed website.

Here are some instances of how the system used to work compared with how it works now. For example, on Mumbai – Delhi, earlier, you would get as little as 292 Tier Points/Redeemable Points to as high as 1210 Tier Points/Redeemable Points, depending on which RBD (the letter of the alphabet which depicts your fare rules).


a chart with text and numbers

Now, per the new Air India website, you get between 403 points at the minimum and 1008 points at the maximum for Economy tickets booked on this route, depending on your fare family.

a screenshot of a website

Similarly, for upgrades in this sector, earlier, one needed between 3500 to 10,000 points to upgrade from Economy to Business Class, again, depending on the exact fare category.


a chart with numbers and text

This has now changed, which the cheaper tickets on the lower end of the fare scale needing 8500 Air India Points for an upgrade and only 4500 points for an upgrade for the most flexible tickets.

a screenshot of a website

The differences are more stark in international sectors, of course. For example, for an economy class ticket between Mumbai to New York JFK, you could earn between 2,000 to 10,400 Air India Points.

a table with numbers and text

Now, the floor is set at 3,200 Air India Points and a maximum of 8000 Air India points on the segment.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

For Business Class, the floor has also gone up from a minimum of 9200 points to 12000 points.

a screenshot of a flight

If everything here is accurate and as represented, Air India has improved the lowest earning rates on their flights. Still, this is a net loss for the guy buying the last seat on the plane because they will no longer be able to get the credit for their flights as per the earlier schedule, which gave them about 25% more miles than even the lowest full-fare category.

Has anyone credited any flights to Air India recently to notice the changes? Is this all true or just smoke and mirrors (a straightforward representation, but the actuality is different?) Curious to hear from the readers in the comments below.


Air India has quietly changed the earn and burn structure, as represented on the Air India (refreshed) website for Air India’s Flying Returns programme. In this move, they have moved from a different slab (by sector and RBD) to the fare families concept. It is, howsoever, unclear if this is a live change or just a representative move.

What do you think of the new Air India earn and burn structure?

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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. A question, to which I think the answer is most probably no – If I have used miles to buy an economy class flight, can I, at a later date, pay yhe difference in miles to upgrade to business class?

  2. I think they also removed web booking Bonus Points…555 Points on domestic and 1999 Points on International for booking on Air India website…

  3. They have also removed Bid and Upgrade from their new website so thats a huge change as that used to be a great way to fly business class.

  4. Hey Ajay,

    I last flew with the airline back in March on the CCU-BOM sector and they credited 446 FR points for this segment which I took in economy.

    Now I do not recall the fare basis code (might have been one of the cheaper fare buckets) that was used for the booking but yes, seems as far as the lowest earning rates are concerned they have made a slight improvement in the amount of points one earns but let’s see.

    • Now as per the miles calculator on the website when I try searching for the same CCU-BOM sector in economy, it now mentions that a minimum of 540 points can be earned on this flight which is the cheapest.

      Previously in March had got 446 FR points and now as per the miles calculator it is now 540 FR points.

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