How will the Indian flyer benefit with Air India joining Star Alliance

Earlier this week, I put out the news about the official joining date for Air India to come into Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance. July 11, 2014 would be the day when they become the 27th airline to join the alliance.

Readers have asked me over email and comments about the details of how is this going to impact their travels, and I thought it would be a good idea to make a post on how things will be different with Air India here on. While details are sketchy, I’m sure we will have more details soon.

  • More destinations and choices: When an alliance comes into the picture, all the airlines codeshare with each other to be able to offer a bigger route network to their passengers. This means, you can have a flight booked on Air India to travel from Mumbai to Singapore, and then connect on a Singapore Airlines flight to Sydney from there and a Air New Zealand flight from Sydney to Wellington, and get similar consideration for your travels across the board in terms of baggage handling, co-located facilities on various airports (grouped with other Star Alliance carriers) and in case of misconnections or problems, hopefully a more synchronous response outside India. You also get to receive your boarding passes across your trip, right here when you start in India.
  • Mileage earning and burning of AI miles across Star Alliance carriers: Congratulations. Your Air India Flying Returns miles just got much more valuable. While earlier you could use your AI miles to burn on AI’s domestic and international operations, apart from Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, now you should be able to burn them on all *A carriers such as United, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Avianca and others. The new award chart is still to be published, so we don’t know where the gems lie, but this would be known soon.
  • Mileage earning and burning of other carriers across Air India: Lets say you are a frequent traveller on United, and now want to travel on Air India between Mumbai – Delhi or Delhi – Hong Kong or whatever other routes. You would now be able to use your United miles on Air India flights as per United’s award chart and routing rules.
  • Air India elites will now be Star Alliance Elites: Air India has 4 membership levels: Base, Silver, Gold and Platinum called Member, Silver Edge, Golden Edge and Maharajah Club. You cannot earn elite miles by doing anything else except flying Air India further and further at the moment. This should change to include *A carriers soon, and I expect that there will be a segment count kind of system as well, rather than just flown miles soon. Anyhow. AI Platinum & Gold members will be Star Alliance Gold level members soon, which allows them priority check-in, airport lounge access across 1000 lounges in the *A network, priority boarding, extra baggage allowance & priority baggage handling.
  • Star Alliance elites will be able to get better handling on Air India and use AI lounges: Taking the United example further, if you are a Premier 1K, you now get lounge access on your intra India flights on Air India as well across stations, and contract lounges where they don’t operate their own lounges.

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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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    • @kapil yes I know about the fact that 5 L spend gets you Silver and 10L spend gets you gold. but you cannot replace spending 10 lakhs with transferring 50 k miles. miles earned by flying are not equal to miles earned by credit card spend for elite qualification like I have stated before.

      • @ajay..i noticed something interesting in the tier matching in my SBI AI Signature CArd account page. It matches Qatar Airways Burgundy to AI Silver. Burgundy is the entry level membership for QA .

        • @Kapil, I see that too, maybe worth a shot. They did not realise there is a Platinum tier as well in Qatar’s program, it seems.

  1. /There is a joining bonus of 20k points as well as a milestone bonus of 20k, 40k, and 90k pts on crossing 3/5/10 lakh respectively. Now the AI gold criteria is also having 50K mileage pts, can I transfer that many reward pts to air miles and get the gold tier instead of waiting to spend 10 lakhs ?

    • @Kapil, the AI gold criteria is to have 50K status miles which can be earned only by flying and not credit card spends.

  2. Living in the USA, this will give me another option to use UAL miles for a trip to India, though I’m not sure in their flights to the USA offer First Class.

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