Tata and its frequent-flyer programs

I am not an expert in mergers and acquisitions1, but I am pretty sure merging four different airlines will be complex and complicated, if not a total organisational clusterfuck.

As much as I am happy about the consolidation2 in the Indian aviation industry and wish I could help Tata in the process — I am only interested in one thing: my frequent-flyer points3.

Over a year ago, I was a lowly “Base” tier member with Air India Express through Flying Returns. But now that they have merged with AirAsia India4, I am an “Aviator” on the Tata NeuPass. Of course, no points were transferred from Flying Returns to the NeuPass.

I love how I can earn points through NeuPass for my daily groceries5 and monthly shopping6 sprees and then use them to get a few free flights someday. That is important because I will never fly enough to reach the top tier. You just can not fly enough on three different programs7. I am still a lowly “Base” tier member with Flying Returns on Air India and a humble “Base” tier member with Club Vistara on Vistara.

A few days ago, Air India announced they are completely redesigning their loyalty program for a launch in early 20248. Who knows what that means for my points? New tiers? Transferability of my already earned points? More retail partners and hotels? How will it all work with Star Alliance9?

I was really hoping for some free miles by getting a co-branded credit card. But, I am still determining which ones will get removed from the current extensive offering10 across the different airlines. I am holding my breath, waiting for these proceedings to end quickly.

  1. I might soon be part of one, though — Sony-Zee merger! ↩︎
  2. I am all for the consolidation of non-political power in industries. ↩︎
  3. Neither do I fly that often, nor do I have a lot of points. ↩︎
  4. AIX Connect, they are calling it. ↩︎
  5. More like once a week. ↩︎
  6. I am trying to not buy things. ↩︎
  7. And there is IndiGo, of course! ↩︎
  8. Not early enough. And a little vague. ↩︎
  9. The combined Air India entity is also co-owned by Singapore Airlines — a Star Alliance member. Also, AIX Connect is a Star Alliance affiliate through Air India. ↩︎
  10. Axis Bank, State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, IndusInd Bank, IDFC First Bank, and I would not be surprised if more emerge before “early 2024”. ↩︎

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