Frequent Flyer Programs in India - all that you need to know!

One of the things I often get asked is how do I manage to travel so much! The real question, of course, is how do you afford to travel so much? As a travel writer and blogger, I often travel on on travel assignments across the world, but such trips can’t always fulfill the wanderlust in me. So again how do I afford to travel so much?

frequent flyer programs india
Frequent Flyer programs in India

Well, there is one simple trick which I learnt pretty late in life, but since the time I did learn about it, travels has been far more affordable. Yes, I am talking about Air Miles, also known as frequent flyer miles of travel points! It’s such an unbelievably simple way of saving money on flying, yet many of us don’t use it at all. I do have to give a bit of a disclaimer here though: you earn more air miles if you travel more, and consequently you earn more likes, and then save more in your future trips. It’s almost like a domino effect - travel more, save more, travel cheap so travel more, save more...I guess you got an idea now!

Apart from this there are a few more benefits of air miles as well. Some of these are:
1. As you accumulate more and more points you go up the chain and become a gold or platinum member and get even more benefits like lounge access, priority boarding etc
2. You can also use your loyalty points (air miles) to upgrade your seat (economy to premium economy or even business)
3. Priority during check-in and boarding (this certainly feels good when the queue is long)
4. If you have the top of the line membership (like I have Gold card for Jet), you also get lounge access which is pretty damn good when you are traveling long distances

But does it work for domestic Indian air travel too?
Yes, absolutely! In fact most of my travels using air miles have been in the domestic circuit only

Why do airlines give air miles?
Well, it’s like a loyalty program. The more loyal you are, the more you save and this then goes on. Of course, you can join numerous such programs and avail all their facilities.

What’s the catch then?
Well, air miles aren’t exactly air miles. Getting 1000 air miles doesn’t mean you can fly 1000 Miles. It’s a fairly complicated calculation, and it varies between different airlines.

In India there are three airlines which offer air miles and I use three of them fairly regularly, so have an account with them. Perhaps I should sign up for the fourth one as well.

Airlines with frequent flyer programs in India

1. JetPrevilage by Jet Airways

This is my favorite airline when it comes to airline miles. I have also flown international with Jet and that has helped me accumulate far more points which I could then use for my domestic travels.

jet airlines frequent flyer programs india

Introduced in 1994, the JetPrivilege programme over time has grown to become one of the most trusted, most respected service brands in the world. In the last 10 years we have expanded as a programme and gone beyond being just a frequent flier programme to becoming an internationally acclaimed, award winning, global loyalty and rewards programme.

As a JetPrivilege member, you will always travel in a world of benefits and privileges. Through this unique programme, you will earn JPMiles every time you travel with Jet Airways, Etihad Airways and any of our other airline partners or transact with any of our 150+ programme partners. You can redeem your accumulated JPMiles for Award Flights to any destination of your choice. Additionally, our alliances with our programme partners offer you discounts and special benefits & privileges across a wide range of brands and services in India and across the world.

2. Club Vistara by Vistara

This is one airline that I've flown the least and so have minimum points collected. In fact I am yet to get a trip with my points alone, so frankly speaking I have limited experience with their program. However, I will update this space with my experiences as and when they do happen.

vistara frequent flyer programs india

Tailored for the trendsetters and the boardroom high fliers, The All New Club Vistara is The Fastest Rewarding Frequent Flyer Program. A program that besides matching your belief in fast paced growth and success, promises to make you feel exclusive with little surprises and joys all along the way. In short, when success comes fast, rewards must too.

Designed keeping the valuable feedback of each one of our smart fliers in mind, this program has been crafted to elevate your flying experience with us, while keeping in mind your priorities, preferences and suggestions. Now more unique than ever, this new revamped program, lets you earn fastest rewards and quickly move upwards elite tiers. All in all, Club Vistara is a program that has only benefits in store.

3. Flying Returns by Air India

Even though I have mixed experience with Air India flights, their frequent flyer program is actually quite decent. I often end up traveling with them simply because I have so many points accumulated with them.

air india frequent flyer programs india

Flying Returns is India's first frequent flyer programme, and one of the most rewarding programmes in the region.

As a member, you can earn FR points when you fly Air India and 27 Star Airline partners on eligible fare paying tickets, and redeem them for award travel faster than most programmes. On higher fares, such as full fare economy, and on Business/First Class, you earn bonus FR points, and clock FR points faster.

You can even earn and redeem FR points on airline partners, and earn FR points on selected non airline partners.

Frequently asked questions!

What happens after you sign up?
So once you sign up for the frequent flyer program, you will get a frequent flyer number and they will typically also send you a frequent flyer card.

So how do you earn air miles then?
Well, once you have the frequent flyer number, all you need to do is use this while booking your next flight. It’s automatic if you book by logging into the relevant website, and if you book through websites like Cleartrip or MakeMyTrip, you can add this while you are booking the ticket. You can also add all the relevant frequent flyer numbers in your profile and they will automatically show up when you book.

What if you forget to update at the time of booking?
Well, that’s no problem at all. You can just let the staff at the counter at the time if check-in an he/ she will be add it to your journey. Typically your boarding pass will have this number printed.

What if you forgot at the check-in counter too?
Well, even if you forget to to mention your frequent flyer number during check-in, you can still claim your miles over the next 3-6 months. You do need to retain your boarding pass though.


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