Air India is the flag carrier of India and is a member of Star Alliance. The New Delhi-based airline serves 102 domestic and international destinations, including several non-stop flights to the United States.
See our list of the best credit card bonuses here.
Flying Returns is Air India’s frequent flyer program. Members from the United States can rack up on points by flying Air India or with any Star Alliance partner. Points can then be redeemed for award flights and upgrades. Keep reading for all the best ways to earn and burn Flying Returns Points.
|Airline Alliance||Star Alliance|
|U.S. Destinations||Chicago, Newark, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.|
|U.S. Credit Cards||None|
|Redemption Options||Flights, upgrades|
Flying Returns Premium Clubs (Elite Status)
When you join Flying Returns, you automatically become a Member. Above that are three Premium Clubs (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.
|CLUB||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:
|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|
For more details, go to the Flying Returns Premium Clubs page.
Earning Flying Returns Points
Compared to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles and other frequent flyer programs based in the United States, stocking up on FR Points is not an easy task for Americans. Here are all the ways you can accrue FR Points:
Earn FR Points every time you fly on a qualifying fare with Air India or any Star Alliance partner airline:
Longer flights and higher fares, like business and first class, will get you more 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 Points Expiration
All your FR Points earned in one calendar year remain valid until the next three calendar years. That means if you earned FR Points anytime between January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, they will remain valid until December 31, 2023.
Flying Returns Tips & Tricks
FR Points bonuses. Flying Returns will give you points bonuses on web bookings (500 points) and limited-time promotions (double miles) for flights within specified periods. Follow the Flying Returns Promotions page to stay updated.
Discounted redemptions. Flying Returns offers 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 a whole lot of value and flexibility. The only way for U.S. residents to earn points is to fly Air India or with Star Alliance partners, and redemptions are limited to award flights and upgrades.