Which Frequent Flyer Should One Choose For Domestic Travel In India
Traveling regularly by air can get expensive, but who doesn’t love how much faster they arrive at their destinations by doing so? That’s why all the smart flyers sign up for Frequent Flyer Program to keep the comfort of flight journeying while lowering the financial implications.
Signing up for a Frequent Flyer Program with an airline of your choice is a giant step in the right direction to spending a lot less on traveling by air and ensuring a much better flight & airline experience.
What is a Frequent Flyer Program?
A Frequent Flyer program (FFP) is a promotional loyalty and reward scheme orchestrated by airlines to win the loyalty of clients by encouraging them to accumulate frequent flier miles, often referred to as airline miles or travel points. This can later be redeemed for free flights, ticket upgrades, priority check-ins, lounge access and so many other rewards. These rewards apply to both domestic and international flights.
Registration for FFP’s are very easy and often doesn’t require you to go beyond creating an online account on the website of the airline. In the very early days of frequent flyer programs, airlines gave free miles to customers for the miles they flew. The miles given were roughly the same as the miles customers flew. In recent times, while the miles traveled don’t earn you as much as it used to, travel miles can now be earned in a lot more ways than just flying. Things like booking a ticket on the airline’s website, subscribing to magazines, partner cards and so much more can earn you miles.
Frequent flier miles accumulated by clients also earn them elite membership and ranks within the program. Every airline has its stipulated amount of miles to be accumulated before you can be invited to a higher rank. The higher ranks in any FFP are associated with some juicy perks like bonus miles apart from the miles earned, priority check-in and boarding, occasional free ticket upgrade, priority baggage handling and more.
Choosing a Frequent Flyer in India
Several airlines in India operate Frequent Flyer Program. However, this article is not considering low-cost airlines like Spice Jet, IndiGo, Air Asia and Go Air.
This leaves us with the three main Frequent Flyer Programs in India:
Flying Returns by Air India
Flying Returns boasts of being India’s first and oldest frequent flyer program, and one of the most rewarding FFP’s in the region.
Air India flies the most extensive domestic routes in India, but its main advantage, one that goes with choosing Flying Returns, is that the airline is part of Star Alliance – the largest airline alliance in the world. Thus, you can also redeem your miles on other Star Alliance airlines, this means, an elite ranking in Flying Returns guarantees superb flight experiences with other Star Alliance airlines. Sadly, Air India is not a favorite among clients.
Flying Returns has premium membership with some very amazing perks. The program has three tiers, the Maharaja Club – as the elite tier, The Golden Edge Club and the Silver Edge Club. While premium members have physical membership cards, base and new members of the program are issued a virtual card, which can be viewed and downloaded from their Flying Returns online account.
Jet Privilege by Jet Airways
Jet privilege is an internationally acclaimed award-winning loyalty and rewards program operated by Jet Airways.
Rewards are reasonably easier to redeem in this program and the airline is probably the best-operated airline in India, consistently delivering outstanding in-flight service. It would be the best program if choosing domestic travel. It also has a lot of code sharing partners internationally, so you can keep earning miles when flying internationally.
The Jet Privilege loyalty rewards & recognition program is a global 5 tier program. The rewarding journey begins as a Jet Privilege Blue member and progresses through Blue Plus, Silver, Gold and to the peak Jet Privilege Platinum member.
Club Vistara by Vistara
Vistara is relatively new airline with a very gorgeous website. Club Vistara claims to be the fastest rewarding Frequent Flyer Program in all of India and “tailored for the trendsetters and the high boardroom fliers” as stated in its official website.
Choosing Club Vistara would mean faster elite tier qualification, but they fly limited destinations in India and are currently code sharing with just Singapore Airlines & SilkAir.
Club Vistara operates a four tier Frequent flyer program which are – CV Base, CV Silver, CV Gold and CV Platinum. Signing up for Club Vistara will get you started at the first and lowest tier of the program – CV Base, but continuous earning of airline miles will see you grow through CV Silver, CV Gold and eventually to CV Platinum – the highest and most exclusive tier of the program. As expected, higher up the tier a client gets, the greater the entitlements.
Despite the promise of fast growing airline miles, I would not choose Vistara because of its limited flight routes.
Air India or the other Star Alliance airlines on the other hand has never been my favorite airline, so I would also not be choosing Flying Returns.
I’ll choose Jet Privilege over any other FFP in India. The services provided by Jet Airways best suits my needs and code sharing with Etihad, I will be connected to any part of the world. This means my Jet Privilege miles can get me free flights, lounge access and other rewards whether flying domestic in India or internationally.