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Air India's new frequent flyer program is more competitive, more rewarding, and more exciting.

Updated: Apr 4, 2024. Manprit.
Air India's new frequent flyer program is more competitive, more rewarding, and more exciting.  - Cover Image
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Air India’s revamped Flying Returns program is now up and running. The updated frequent flyer program arrived with more bells and whistles than we expected, boasting well-thought-out features that cater to customer needs, and addresses several pain points.

The new program makes it easier to attain elite status, offers more value when redeeming points, and includes numerous small features with significant benefits.

We have been waiting for this refresh since the time Tata group acquired Air India, and they didn’t disappoint.

Air India’s new Flying Returns Program

New Status Levels

Air India has transitioned to a globally recognized naming system for their various status levels. The new program consists of four tiers: Red (base), Silver, Gold, and Platinum. It’s a good thing that they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel here.

New Elite Status Qualification Criteria

There are two methods to earn an elite status with Air India’s Flying Returns program: by accumulating a certain number of flights or by collecting ‘tier points’.

For every INR100 (~US$1.2) spent on Air India flights, you earn 6 tier points.

To attain or maintain the Red status, all you need to do is join the program. The table below lists the requirements for the other statuses:

Tier By Tier Points By Flights
Silver 15,000 tier points (INR 250,000 spent). Min. 4500 on Air India. 30 flights. Min. 4 on Air India.
Gold 30,000 tier points (INR 500,000 spent). Min. 9000 on Air India. 60 flights. Min. 8 on Air India.
Platinum 45,000 tier points (INR 750,000 spent). Min. 13500 on Air India. 90 flights. Min. 12 on Air India.

You can qualify for each status by either accumulating sufficient tier points or completing the required number of flights.

Reward Points Earning Rate

Air India has transitioned to a revenue-based rewards’ system, which is now the preferred choice for most airlines globally and offers a fair system for flyers. Very few airlines now offer points/miles based on actual miles flown.

Status Reward Points
Red 6 points per INR 100
Silver 8 points per INR 100
Gold 9 points per INR 100
Platinum 10 points per INR 100

By booking via Air India’s website or app, you can earn an additional 2 reward points per INR 100 spent. This is anyway recommended as it simplifies the process of modifying or cancelling your tickets.

Currently, you also receive 10x points on Air India flights if booked with your Amex metal card.

Air India Reward Points Earning Chart

Air India Points Value and Redemption

Air India now offers excellent value for domestic redemptions. The number of points required depends on whether you are booking in advance or at the last minute.

Advance booking on miles is called Value Fare, and Prime Fare is used to refer to last-minute bookings with higher points requirement.

Air India Points Calculator Screenshot

The new program has improved seat availability. Despite this, international redemptions still require a relatively high number of points.

You can play with the points calculator to determine point requirements for different routes.

Key Status Benefits

Please refer to the table below for the key benefits you get with each status:

Benefit Silver Gold Platinum
Premium Customer Service Yes Yes Yes
Change Fee - Domestic INR 1000+GST, once per ticket up to 24 hours before departure. Free, once per ticket up to 24 hours before departure. Free, twice per ticket up to 24 hours before departure.
Change Fee - International NA Free, once per ticket up to 72 hours before departure. Free, twice per ticket up to 24 hours before departure.
Cancellation Fee - Domestic NA INR 1,199 up to 24 hours before departure. Free up to 24 hours before departure.
Complimentary Seat Selection 50% Off on Standard seats (Domestic only). 100% off on standard seats across network. 100% off on all seats across network
Upgrade Vouchers (Domestic) 1 2 3
Fly Early (flight change at airport if an earlier flight is available) NA Yes Yes
Priority Check-in Yes Yes Yes
Excess Baggage on Air India - Weight Based +10kg +20kg +20kg
Excess Baggage on Air India - Piece Based NA 1 piece up to 23 kg 1 piece up to 23 kg
Excess Baggage - Star Alliance NA + 20kg or 1 piece up to 23kg + 20kg or 1 piece up to 23kg
Lounge Access (With 1 Guest) NA Yes Yes
Priority Boarding Yes Yes Yes

Evergreen Points

The standard validity period for your Air India reward points is 24 months. However, you can extend the validity of all your existing reward points by 24 months when you fly on an Air India ticket (Not applicable on reward tickets).

It can be challenging to utilize expiring air miles compared to hotel points due to the unavailability of last-minute tickets, lack of necessity to fly, or being busy at work.

Having not to fret about expiring miles, as long as you take a paid flight every two years, is a great benefit. It gives you the freedom to use your points as you please instead of forcing yourself to use the expiring points somehow.

Family Pool

For families who travel together, it’s inefficient to have a small number of points in individual accounts. This is why it’s essential to have the ability to consolidate family members’ points.

The new family pool program from Air India allows two or more family members to connect their Flying Returns accounts and create one collective pool. All earned points across these linked accounts can be accumulated for the Family Head to use.

Air India Family Pool Process

You can arrange for all points earned by your family members to be credited directly into your account (head of the pool). Then, you can redeem these points whenever you wish. It’s as straightforward as that.

No credit card status for now.

Once bitten twice shy. Several Air Vistara (same group) credit cards came with elite status and the company wasn’t able to handle them. In the world of loyalty programs, too many elite members equals to no elite member.

As of now, Air India hasn’t announced any new credit cards. And it’s very unlikely that any card will offer a lifetime Gold status. Especially given that Air India is a part of Star Alliance and hundreds of thousands of gold members using elite benefits at partner airlines worldwide won’t be a financially sound choice.

If you want a card that can help you earn points, SBI offers 2 Air India credit cards. Apart from SBI, Air India has partnered with ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Citibank, and HSBC for credit card points conversion to Air India points.


Air India’s new loyalty program is much more exciting and rewarding than it’s previous avatar. It’s much more competitive and offers some real benefits and rewards for choosing Air India over its rivals.

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