Air India is Now a Star Alliance Member: Here’s What Awards Cost and Where to Find Seats

Air India has finally joined Star Alliance.

Air India was invited to join Star Alliance in 2007. Joining an alliance generally takes about 2 years. Air India couldn’t get their service and IT systems in order to meet base level standards of the alliance, and their invitation was suspended in 2011.

Star was backed into Air India as their only choice in this huge market.

As Air India’s original application to join Star crumbled, the alliance began talks with Jet Airways to become India’s Star Alliance member. At the time the Indian government made clear that they wouldn’t permit Jet to join an alliance until Air India did. (Kingfisher was slated to join oneworld, which is led by American Airlines and British Airways, but went bankrupt before they could do so.)

Air India award space is now searchable at the websites of ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles and Aeroplan.

Their US routes are Chicago and New York JFK – Delhi and Newark – Mumbai.

My initial take is that award availability seems pretty good for one passenger in business class, less frequently for two. Availability is good for domestic flights. I’m even seeing some first class award space for one passenger Chicago – Delhi and Delhi – London. Coach is a gimme.

One-way award costs through some common Star Alliance programs:

  • American Express transfer partner Aeroplan charges 50,000, 75,000, and 105,000 miles respectively for coach, business and first class between the US and India. Air India appears to be another airline that Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on!

  • Chase transfer partner United MileagePlus charges 42,500, 80,000, and 140,000 miles respectively for coach, business and first class between the US and India. No fuel surcharges as United does not collect them for travel on any airline.

  • American Express and Chase transfer partner Singapore Airlines Krisflyer charges 52,500, 97,500, and 132,500 miles respectively for coach, business and first class between the US and India.

  • Perennial mileage discounter Avianca LifeMiles charges 45,000, 67,500, and 90,000 miles respectively for coach, business and first class between the US and India. No fuel surcharges as LifeMiles does not collect them for travel on any airline.

For me this adds Indian domestic connectivity and some decent connecting options through Europe.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. For shits and giggles, how’s J availability on BHX-ATQ? Conceivably one could fly UA from EWR-BHX to connect but what I don’t know is if they’d charge partner pricing for J because of the Air India segment.

  2. With Air India’s own Flying Returns program, and Singapore KrisFlyer with their prior partnership, I found issues redeeming on Air India Regional even when coded as Air India flights, and I believe Air India Express has the same issues, would be nice to include those on awards as some India destinations are only served by them, like Agatti in Lakshadeweep Air India Regional is the only airline. Air India Express has some regional international routes that would be nice to tap into as well.

  3. ‘Star was backed into Air India as their only choice in this huge market.’

    That is what is wrong with the whole scenario. Air India can and will dictate their will as the cost of access to this huge market. Is it worth it? Time alone will tell.

    Whereas so many Western companies outsource their software development needs to India, it took Air India 7 years to meet the basic IT requirements of the alliance with so many software development powerhouses right under their collective nose. Three cheers for their management team!

  4. Have flown biz and economy on air india, and won’t make same mistake again, these people shamelessly keep passing gas for hrs, eats home cooked meal for hrs, keeps talking so loud. They would keep going to different seat, sometimes talking while the others stand. would throw away the trashes under the seat. Shits and urinates on bathroom toilet seat unflushed! Kids run wild. The smell in flight and than noise was unbearable! STAR AWAY!

  5. @jim – same commenter as over on HackMyTrip who is a known anti-immigrant guy. Come on man. Give it up. AI is not some amazing airline but you should work on your grammar if you want to seem so American.

  6. I flew AI twice, will never do it again without a mask. I love Bollywood and the food, but flying on a closed tube USA-India with EVERYONE farting away mixed with the smell of spice was a huge turn-off. Culturally acceptable to let ‘er rip.

  7. Gary,Should one also be able to see fares on multiple Star Alliance partners together when one prices out a ticket? I don’t see round trip fares loaded onto OTA’s yet? e.g Air Inida one leg and United one leg. Did you get a sense that will get loaded later? thanks

  8. @Gary: I believe Aeroplan charges 50000 for coach one way between US and India as per their reward chart.

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