Air India Joins Star Alliance

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Air India has joined the Star Alliance. Its direct flights between the United States and India are now bookable with United miles, Aeroplan miles, Lufthansa miles, Singapore miles, ANA miles, and any other type of Star Alliance miles.

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Award space is searchable at aeroplan.com and widely available.

Air India flights from the United States to Europe have fuel surcharges on cash tickets, but awards with United miles never have fuel surcharges, and Aeroplan is currently not collecting fuel surcharges on Air India award flights.

  • Where does Air India fly in the United States?
  • What cabins does it operate?
  • What is the price of an Air India award with United and other Star Alliance miles?
  • How can you search for and book an Air India award?
  • What amazing deal related to Air India award space probably won’t last?

Routes

Air India flies from:

  • Newark to Mumbai
  • New York-JFK to Delhi
  • Chicago to Delhi

From its hubs in Mumbai and Delhi, Air India has connections throughout India and Asia.

Price

Any Air India award space released to partners is now bookable with any Star Alliance airline’s miles. For the exact same flights, different programs charge different prices between the United States and India:

  • United charges 42.5k/80k/140k miles each way in Air India economy/business/first
  • Lufthansa charges 50k/92k/145k miles each way in Air India economy/business/first
  • Singapore charges 52.5k/97.5k/132.5k miles each way in Air India economy/business/first
  • Aeroplan charges 50k/75k/105k miles each way in Air India economy/business/first

Of these options, United charges the fewest miles in economy, while Aeroplan charges the fewest miles in Business and First Class.

United does not collect fuel surcharges on awards. Lufthansa and Singapore would collect $540 in fuel surcharges in addition to government taxes on a roundtrip economy award on Air India to India.

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At the moment Aeroplan is not collecting fuel surcharges on Air India flights, but that may change.

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Aeroplan is just collecting taxes, no fuel surcharges on Air India awards

Searching and Booking Air India Flights with Miles

Air India is not searchable on my favorite Star Alliance search engine, united.com.

The best place to search award space on Air India flights is aeroplan.com. Any award space that appears there is bookable with any Star Alliance miles.

I found a lot of award space in economy and business on the direct flights from the United States to India.

Chicago to Delhi

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Remember that the miles price is determined by the miles you use to book the space, so ignore this 100,000 mile price unless you actually will use Aeroplan miles.

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Currently taxes and fees on the Chicago to Delhi roundtrip are only $120 because Aeroplan is not collecting fuel surcharges on the award.

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This may be Aeroplan’s intention or it may be a glitch. Time will tell.

New York to Delhi

New York to Delhi had plenty of award space in economy and Business Class.

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I didn’t find any First Class award space on the Air India flights to the United States on my cursory search. If you find any, please let us know in the comments.

You can book Air India flights with Aeroplan miles online. For other types of miles, note the date, cabin, and flight number of award space you find on aeroplan.com, then call the airlines whose miles you will use to book the space.

The Product

Air India flies 777s to the United States, which feature angled lie flat beds in Business Class. First Class is fully flat.

On some routes, like Delhi to Melbourne, Air India features 787 Dreamliners with fully flat beds in Business Class.

Bottom Line

Adding Air India to Star Alliance is a major coup for those of us with Star Alliance miles.

Ample award space is now available between the United States and Europe. I expect this space to persist at least as long as it isn’t displayed on united.com.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. Right now I have a 3 leg reservation from India to Chicago early next year. Do you think it’s a good idea to change the routing now? It seems AI has a direct flight. How does the service compare to UA for each class?

    • The service should be the same or better. United isn’t known for its service. I haven’t flown Air India, so I can’t give the nuances of the food or the seat/bed. I find United’s Business and First beds to be excellent and the good to be average. Check out my trip reports on United.

  2. The answer to the question “What amazing deal related to Air India award space probably won’t last?” wasn’t clear to me at all. Did I miss it?

    • Sorry. I expect Aeroplan to collect fuel surcharges on Air India awards. I think not collecting them is a glitch.

  3. Naive question: I may be booking a flight to India that will be reimbursed by the company I work at. I have a ton of United Miles but no Air India miles (nor do I anticipate ever needing them). Is there any way I can accrue United miles for my flight to India via Air India? Or can I transfer them easily to United. Or can I use my United miles to upgrade to business or first class after paying cash for the ticket?

  4. one basic question that was not answered in your post. How many miles will United charge for an economy award if you are flying from let say, SFO or LAX which don’t offer direct flight to India. If we book SFO to JFK and then JFK to DEL, will United still charge only 42.5K miles for economy?

    • Yes. United has a region-to-region award chart. Anywhere from the United States Upper 49 or Canada to Central Asia costs the same price. (42.5k each way in economy). You can add on Saver economy award space on United flights from your home airport to get to ORD/EWR/JFK to get onto an Air India flight.

  5. what are the miles required for the us to europe using united miles? do you have to route through delhi and pay for two awards on united?
    thanks

    • You can’t fly Air India from the United States to Europe on a United award. USA – Europe is 30k/57.5k/70k/80k/110k in economy/United biz/partner biz/United First/partner first

  6. Similar to the last question, but on the other end. If i want to fly to (or out of) Trivandrum (TRV) in southern India, could i book an award ticket into BOM or DEL and then get a connection from there to TRV at no extra cost of miles? Thanks.

  7. Hi Scott,
    I was looking at using ANA to make an award reservation on AI for a short trip from India to MLE. The problem is that ANA will not display the taxes and fuel-surcharge unless you have enough miles in the account (and I do not want to transfer until I am sure about using ANA). Would you happen to know, or can find out, how much in taxes and fuel-surcharge ANA would charge for BLR-MLE–BLR?

    BTW, wanted to let you know that Jen did a great job on my award booking. Looking forward to flying first class on Etihad’s dreamliner in Jan! 🙂

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