Air India is the primary flag carrier of India and is a member of the Star Alliance. The New Delhi-based airline flies to 102 domestic and international destinations, including several non-stop flights to the United States.
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Flying Returns is their frequent flyer program. Members from the United States can rack up points by flying Air India or with any other Star Alliance partner. Points can be redeemed for award flights and upgrades. Continue reading to see if this frequent flyer program is right for you!
Aeroplan Quick Facts
|Redemption Options||Flights, upgrades|
|U.S. Destinations||Chicago, Newark, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.|
|U.S. Credit Cards||None|
Flying Returns Premium Clubs (Elite Status)
Upon joining Flying Returns, you will automatically become a Member. Above that are the three Premium Clubs, aka Status Tiers: Silver Edge Club, Golden Edge Club and The Maharajah Club. To move up a tier, you need to earn a certain amount of Status Flying Returns (FR) Points within a 12-month rolling period.
|STATUS||STATUS FR POINTS REQUIRED|
Once you’re a member of a Premium Club, you have that status for the next 12 months and you’ll enjoy the following benefits:
|STATUS BENEFIT||SILVER EDGE||GOLDEN EDGE||THE MAHARAJAH|
|FR Points bonus||15%||25%||30%|
|Extra checked baggage allowance||+ 10kg||+ 20kg||+ 20kg|
|Extra cabin baggage allowance||+ 1 bag||+ 1 bag||+ 1 bag|
|Dedicated check-in counters||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Priority check-in & boarding||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Air India Lounge access||Yes + 1||Yes + 1|
|Waived cancellation, refund & rebooking fees||Yes||Yes|
Earning Flying Returns Points
Compared to other frequent flyer programs based in the United States, stocking up on FR points is not as easy, especially for Americans. Here are all the ways you can earn FR points.
Flying Returns allows conversions from Citi ThankYou Rewards points. However, this only applies to Citibank cards from India. As such, there are no other ways to earn FR Points besides flying with Air India and Star Alliance partners.
Redeeming Flying Returns Points
Most Flying Returns members use their points for award flights with Air India and partner airlines. The program has three award schemes:
- Distance-based domestic awards on Air India
- Region-based international awards on Air India
- Region-based Star Alliance partner awards
You can purchase award flights for yourself or for others. Have a look at Air India’s award charts in detail here.
You can also redeem your FR Points for upgrades on both domestic and international Air India and Star Alliance partner flights, cash tickets only.
Flying Returns Tips & Tricks
FR Points bonuses. Occasionally, there will be times where this frequent flyer program will offer points bonuses on web bookings (500 points) and limited time promotions for flights within a specified period. Simply follow their Flying Returns Promotions page to stay updated.
Discounted redemptions. Just like how a store will have a sale, Flying Return will offer deals on redemptions every once in awhile, including 50% off FR Points when you book an award flight on your birthday. This applies to all ticket classes. Sign up for the Flying Returns newsletter so you don’t miss out on these promotions.
Family pooling. Link your account to family members’ to pool points. This may include your spouse, children, parents, spouse’s parents and your siblings, and is limited to nine people.
Best value awards. For the most bang for your points, stick with the following redemptions:
|Domestic flights with Air India||Economy||Starts at 7,000|
|Roundtrip from Delhi to Tokyo/Rome/Moscow||Economy||38,000|
|Roundtrip from Delhi to Tokyo/Rome/Moscow||Business||76,000|
Worst value awards. The longer the flight, the less value you’ll get for your FR Points. Avoid redeeming for long-haul flights on Star Alliance partners.
Taxes & surcharges. There are taxes and surcharges on domestic award tickets, as well as fuel charges (on top of taxes and surcharges) on international travel.
Award cancellation. Flying Returns charges only 500 points to cancel an award ticket. That’s often much cheaper than booking refundable tickets at the last minute. You can also change your date of travel within one year.
Air India Flying Returns doesn’t offer much in terms of value and flexibility. Also, the only way for U.S. residents to really earn points is to fly Air India or with Star Alliance partners, and redemptions are limited to just award flights and upgrades.
However if you realize that this is not the reward program for you, feel free to check out our latest list of the best credit card bonuses.