Air India’s Award Chart: I’m Speechless

Filed Under: Air India, Awards

Well, it’s official. The award for the world’s most bizarre airline loyalty program award chart goes to… Air India! And that doesn’t even have anything to do with their redemption rates.

You have to see Air India’s award chart to believe it:

Air India Flying Returns Award Chart

Like, I actually can’t concentrate enough to figure out how much something should cost.

Is this amazing, amazing, or amazing? Like, can you imagine how much time someone spent coming up with this design, and the fact that they finished designing the award chart and said “that looks great.” Then they showed it to their boss, and their boss was like “job well done.”

It’s not just the color vomit as such that makes this so special, but when you add in the faded Xs and the ridiculously complicated structure, this is an award chart in a league of its own… by some definition.

(Tip of the hat to my colleagues Jimmy & Jordan at PointsPros)

  1. Hilarious to imagine someone stepping back after creating this and going “yep, that’s it. That’ll work” – AND it going through an approvals process.

    Humanity will never ceases to amaze us.

  2. Hmmmm… Air India must have hired a US Veteran or ex DoD civilian to run their mileage program. I didn’t think that it was possible to out chart the US military, but Air India just did it.

  3. If you stare at the center square and count to twenty then close your eyes, you will see a bald llama bringing you a pizza.

  4. I used to be an applications developer at united airlines. When I see this, I can’t help but think that someone is going to have to code this to make it work.

  5. Hey, somebody obviously spent a lot of time on that lovely spreadsheet. Give them the credit they desrve. 😉

  6. Not trying to defend, just setting some context: This was probably made by someone who had never used word/excel in their life and their boss got an “order” from “higher up” to create a chart. I’m not kidding (I was born and raised in India, and fully understand how government enterprises there work). Still, does not make it any better.

  7. Spend just 5 minutes reading it and it’s perfectly clear.There’s a lot of information in it; it’s a lot clearer than many other award charts I’ve seen. It doesn’t warrant ‘amazing’ x 3 in a 6 word sentence .

  8. I have rarely been so entertained by the comments on this blog.

    For mine, it’s an indication that Air India doesn’t want anyone to claim anything using reward points…

    @Paolo – yes it does warrant all those amazings!! I’m not an excel/list person so it would take a shipload longer for me to make sense of this (though it does mostly leave Aus out so I guess that makes it easier).

  9. I think attempting to put everything about just about any airline’s policies into one chart would get you something like this. Other carriers prefer to publish lots of charts with lots of footnotes, or don’t publish one at all. I understand what it takes to fly with this chart a lot better than with Delta’s award charts.

  10. @Jo145
    Well, it’s crystal clear to me. For sure it’s ‘busy’, but for anyone who can read a chart, or follow a map ( not the audio ones on phones), it’s just a matter of looking at a starting point, a destination and following the incredibly clear presentation. It’s comprehensive , detailed and clear.
    I just don’t get the borderline hysteria over this: perhaps it’s a generational issue.

  11. That static graphic is bad enough, but I really wouldn’t want to be subjected to a PowerPoint designed by this person.

  12. I was working in Mumbai last year. Booked a last minute holiday to Istanbul. It was $1600 USD cheaper (in business) for me to book on Air India than Turkish Airlines. Irony was it was actually operated by Turkish Airlines. Go figure.

  13. I wish all airlines had this level of clarity and transparency when it comes to awards. You can definitely quibble with colors and fonts, but you can easily find out how many segments, transfers, and stopovers are allowed on each awards, what the date change penalty is, what the refund policy is, and so on — all in addition to the cost of every single awards.

    With U.S. airlines, their websites may “look” good, but most of this information is either missing or fairly impossible to find, buried in (good looking) fine print.

    Bravo Air India for transparency!

  14. It matches the airline. I have many Indian friends and they won’t fly Air India even if it is free. That says a lot about the airline.

  15. At least they have a published award chart unlike some airlines

    And I think this wasn’t meant for public consumption just internal use.

    If you actually look at it it is really quite clear what points etc are needed for various combinations of routes.

    I could see a phone agent running their finger across and down and being able to give a clear – and accurate – answer to a query.

  16. @Santastico – same here. My colleagues and friends prefer others too. I flew them domestically once as it was the only option. They really were very ordinary. Much better options within the market.

  17. Lucky, come on!

    Do you really want to complain when we have Delta with unknown pricing? or United with Dynamic Pricing? – I just saw awards for 510 k to India one way on United website

    If you look closely and forget your preconceived ideas of which colors to use (or just have it all your way in green and beige )
    It is very clear in regions to region – color coded
    It is very clear this is oneway
    This is for economy
    It is 2x for business class and 3x for F class
    It lists stop overs allowed and segments per ticket based on distance
    It tells you Star alliance awards have to be rebooked (like UA) but unlike UA which does not tell you until you try to change 1 segment MUC-NCE on an US-MUC-NCE award that they will have to cancel and rebook (at a obviously much higher rate)

    DL once upon a time would change a segment for no problems as long as it was in saver
    AA also would still do that and allows date changes for free
    Now both DL and UA cancel and rebook at a much higher rate for any changes

    I have other issues with AI
    Their IT sucks, they do not tell you until you bok that you need 5 flghts on AI first before you can redeem (I had a bunch of miles go waste
    but color me impressed that they are on record saying what things cost!

  18. On second thought it is duplicate info at the bottom – what purpose that serves I have no idea
    They could have broken it down a bit better by separating zones at the top and rules below them

  19. Lucky can you help me? Not sure whether if it makes more sense to book Europe To From Asia or From Asia Europe To.


  20. How long till Doug Parker follows suit? Seriously though, what a f’ing joke. Let’s make it super difficult so nobody uses it and calls every single time they want to do a redemption.

  21. It’s not that bad you just have to follow each box closely and maybe in India everything works this way in this sort of chart and people are used to it. Also the fact that its better than hidden or dynamic redemption rates. One just needs to look closely and follow the color for the zone you want to, then its not bad at all.

  22. Japan train ticket fare chart is very similar to that minus the color. I think some people prefer this way to lay out all the information instead of do the math.

  23. It is actually a fantastic chart. It has all possible rates and policies clearly marked so you can make an informed decision by just looking at one chart instead of running around multiple pages of fine print, tables etc. There is so much valuable information within just one chart such has how many <24hrs segments I can have while having a free-stopover at the same time in just one chart!

    Truly a travel aficionado's dream chart.

  24. LOL! There isn’t a a problem with the chart because nobody is going to use it! How many people are stupid enough to fly Air India twice, let alone be a frequent flyer!!!!!! One trip with them is one too many! Shocking service, filthy and unreliable planes. And to think it was once a world leader for service!!!!

  25. The amazing thing is who is an Air India frequent flyer that would even fly on them – the most appalling everything!! no what the class or flight – it used to be known for their service and style – we had a mouse that was loose from Paris to Delhi – do you think once word had spread that anyone was going to lower their beds into the flat mode ???
    Forget the graphs !! No one is even looking

  26. Let’s assume Air India would honor what it advertised and flyers could find award seats available. Would all of you want this chart OR the lovely simple dynamic United MileagePlus program that United just inplemented recently?

  27. Starting to see a trend of over reactions on this blog site to things that might otherwise seem normal on other blogs, or which might not even be reported in the first place. Lol. Found a wonderful Qantas birthday seat sale info on another site. Bookmarked.

  28. Fantastic one. Very complex timetables created by mathematicians and lateral thinkers at work. Could be broken into parts or reworked to provide alternates.
    Maybe subtler pastel shades would suit the softer outlook prevalent in certain quarters.

  29. Air India is facing an ownership crisis.
    The owner wants to sell the company, but unable finalise the modalities, nor get a buy in from stakeholders.
    A once great commercial organisation was nationalised in 1953, and more recently merged with Indian Airlines, the domestic national carrier with few regional services in neighbouring states.

    Listed in the Guinness Book if World records for carrying out the largest civilian evacuation in history during Gulf war. Over 3 dozen rescue and relief operations in addition.

  30. This is great! Looks like an intern, or a 1st timer amazed at all they can do with Excel and wanted to use every color, font, and effects!

    I’d love to see how their award chart looked over the years. Was it always like this? Is this an improvement to previous versions?

  31. This is the worst post I’ve ever read on this blog, without a shadow of a doubt. Most of the work presented here is methodical and carefully considered. This one is simply ludicrous: totally over-the-top, inaccurate, judgemental, mean-spirited and profoundly ignorant. Add: plain wrong ( one wonders if you even looked at the chart prior to launching into cheap shots about it)
    What’s more troubling is that it appears to emanate from your so-called “points experts” site, with the implication they couldn’t understand it. If so, I don’t think I’d be wanting to pay for their advice about points, if they can’t follow a simple chart.
    Many of the comments take your lead: giving the strong impression that many of your readers may well be 13 year olds with little or no travel experience.
    This post is beneath you and does nothing to enhance your reputation as a serious travel writer. You have good skills but this one is a shocker.

  32. Lucky, I think it is time to reconsider some posts before publishing. Like I said above a lot of over reacting and portrayal of someone basically a bit insecure, like your reaction when someone ran into the Turkish Airlines Business class washroom upon landing. I think that is where this over reacting started to snowball. Paolo could not have said it better.

  33. Gotta agree with Paulo on this one. This blog is literally dedicated to advanced usage of points. And this chart, despite the initial shock of the colors and fonts, is crystal clear about everything you could want to know about booking an award ticket, including stopovers, change penalties, etc.

    Every “simple” chart I’ve ever seen on other sites has a ton of asterisks and footnotes that you have to keep scrolling back and forth for, and even after that you don’t usually even get info like change penalties or number of stopovers allowed. It’s easy to create a simple chart when it doesn’t give you as much useful information.

    It seems incongruous that you’d happily spend an extra 10 hours flying on some weird routing to score an award ticket but are unwilling to spend 5 minutes on a chart to understand an award program in detail. Are you really advocating that AI bury all those details in fine print spread over 5 pages that force you to give up and Google your site or search flyertalk to get answers?

  34. It is bit too much of color explosion, but the chart it clear once you start reading it. Most airlines do not even have a the rules in chart form. I agree, the graphics could have been toned down a bit, but it is not the most bizarre airline loyalty program as the author claims.

  35. Hey, at least they HAVE an award chart!

    How many miles does it cost to fly from DFW to HKG next Tuesday? Answer: Anything they want.

  36. I see many lauding the fact that AI actually has an award chart compared to some other programs. It seems they believe in award charts issued by a GOI organization suggesting they know nothing about AI or GOI.

  37. Wow! I am really hoping that Air India is Chase’s next transfer partner:

    – 5k point short-haul US domestic redemptions on United for only $5.60 plus $13.92 ticketing fee.
    – Stopovers allowed on one way trips. Brilliant!
    – No fuel surcharges.

    Lots of other bright spots in this chart as well. For example, flights within the South Pacific are very attractively priced (especially with a stopover in New Zealand included).

    Yes, the chart is a bit garish, but I’m really liking it for short haul awards.

  38. Its fairly easy to understand, but I guess you prefer to have those complicated award charts with all terms and conditions hidden away under pages of corporate gobbledy gook. After all, if all charts were so simple would anyone need your award booking services?
    Lucky is funniest when his wallet is threatened

  39. I have about 65000 expired AI miles which i could reactivate @ 0.60 inr/mile (about 0.8 cent/mile)

    After one look at the mileage chart, I decided to run away…..beyond human comprehension in any language!!!!

    I think AI sponsored the person for free Micro$oft Advanced Excel with Micros (pun intended) training and it shows!!!

  40. Just read carefully it is not as difficult as it looks, yes and the conditions could have been written as a footnote to make it look less complicated

  41. Agree with Paolo and Marco.

    Sure, it doesn’t look great. But the content, and rules themselves are fine, so it’s not as big a deal as made out in the headline. And the article body is lacking. A post about nothing really.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *