Dear Flying Returns member and patron of Air India,
Please accept our profound and sincere apologies if you have faced any problems since 01 December 2015, while trying to redeem FR points from your FFP account. We have made a few changes and would like to explain and also clarify why we did not issue an alert in advance.
While it has been our privilege to be the airline of your choice and to cater to your air travel needs, for the likes of you, we are also the "depository" of the FFP FR points you earn and accrue when you fly on us. As the custodian bank of these Air India Flying Returns points it is our twin responsibility to safe guard them / prevent misuse and also provide you with best returns or optimize value upon redemption.
Since joining Star Alliance in July 2014, wherein our members can earn and burn FR points on a buffet of 27 other airlines, our daily enrolment of new - fresh members has grown from few hundreds per day to more than a 1000 per day in past few months. While we welcome this spurt in patronage and membership, it has come with certain unforeseen challenges, which we are attempting to address.
On the one hand we have received many inputs and feedback from concerned & esteemed members who have engaged with us on a proactive basis, to simplify and make the FFP program more attractive; but on the other hand we have also experienced increase in fraud / ghost FFP accounts and misuse of our FFP program - both of which have prompted us to make some structural changes to the Air India FFP program which are intended to not only improve the Flying Returns program but to also make it more secure for our members.
We are also concerned about the incidence of lost FR points or retro credit requests for lost or missing FR points, which is either due to name mismatch, wrong or incomplete names & initials, FFP number missing in PNR while making booking, and a host of other plausible reasons.
When we have dispatched by speed post (within India) the membership kits and cards along with upgrade vouchers for tier members, we have had a very high incidence of RTS or "return to sender". Same is the case with kits sent on our flights for dispatch (by courier) in foreign countries by our offices abroad. It is a double whammy with members complaining of non-receipt of not just card and kits but also emailers and statements on a regular basis.
To address these issues, as the custodian of your FR points, Air India has introduced some security features in the program to verify the fidelity of the member data and update the profile of all our existing members - akin to the KYC process adopted by Banks in India some time back.
Till this process is completed, all members shall be able to accrue or earn FR points normally, but to be able to redeem FR points, each member is first required to undergo the KYC process and requested to
Log in to the FR Account thru the Flying Returns website www.flyingreturns.co.in
Fill up all personal particulars, which are valid currently, except Name & date of birth in the FFP member profile.
Ensure that you use a unique Cell phone Number and Unique Email ID, on which OTP shall be sent now and subsequently flight related alerts and statements shall be sent. If two different accounts have the same mobile Phone number or same Email ID, the system will not accept it. We have multiple cases of FFP accounts with different names, but created against one email ID and one phone number.
Once you generate a pair of OTP which you will receive one each on your email and cell phone, please upload a self-attested copy of only any ONE Govt. issued photo ID preferably Passport (in absence of a passport Aadhar / PAN Card / Voter ID) and a proof of the current and valid address.
Please ensure the name in the profile matches that on the passport (or other Govt. issued ID) that is uploaded. Name mismatch would result in loss / missing FR points and other avoidable glitches. In case your membership profile has your first name as initial or one alphabet & in contrast the Passport has your full name, then you need to email a request to the member service centre along with your ID proof & mother's maiden name to first change the name on your profile to match the passport - so that you can do the KYC.
Once you have done this, Air India shall verify and activate your account so that you are able to redeem your FR points. This may take some time due to the high volume of transactions in queue and the slowing down of the system.
In case you are getting error responses, please peruse the following Do's and Don'ts -
Do use only your own Email and Cell Phone number, which is in your possession for normal use.
Do change the Cell number and email in the profile if they are not with you, before requesting for OTP.
Do upload any one and only Id document & only one latest address proof, preferably in PDF which will fit 400 KB size.
Do upload only the passport as Id if you travel international sectors.
Do not use the phone numbers & email of your travel agent or secretary.
Do not upload more than one or multiple Id like Passport plus PAN plus Aadhar as it will then exceed 400 KB.
Do not upload Utility Bill, which is older than 2 months.
Do not generate multiple OTP as that will result in non-verification with OTP being open. One OTP generated is valid for 10 minutes.
On receiving feedback about inability or difficulty in uploading documents, we found out that many members did not perform the second step of clicking upload after first step of selecting document. Hence we have now made it one step and as soon as member selects, the document is uploaded. This has now resulted in members uploading multiple or more than one document, whereas only one ID and one address proof is required.
Non-receipt of one time password (OTP) is likely to happen if the email or mobile number is associated with another member account.
In many instances members have generated more than one pair/set of OTP, sometimes 4 or 5 sets of OTP and have used the email OTP of one and the Cell phone OTP of another to try and activate the account - which will reflect as pending or OTP not verified. We are working on resolving this glitch and hope to do that soon.
In the meanwhile, we would humbly and earnestly exhort you to please bear with us, if there is a delay on account of system error or in verification - while these changes take place. Once this is done, your patience shall enable you to avail enhanced benefits of the Frequent Flyer program and make this wait and updation of profile data by existing members worth the while.
Some of these changes, which members can take advantage of are enumerated below:-
Removal of YQ (Fuel Surcharge) till now paid in cash on international Award redemption tickets on Air India flights & its replacement with additional FR points.
Enabling Child Enrolment (02 to 12 years age).
Enhanced web bonus for Business Class Cabin & International journeys.
Simplified Table of FR points Accrual & Redemption on Air India flights which have been clubbed/bundled in ten strata (each for domestic & international).
Instant generation of downloadable / printable "Virtual" membership card upon enrolment or tier status change.
For those of you who have certain FR points expiring on 31 December 2015, and the past 10 days have been a frustrating period with KYC norms resulting in delay or inability to redeem FR points, we would like to compensate you be extending the validity or permitting use - redemption of these FR points by 1 month to 31 January 2016 for making tickets.
In the next few weeks, possibly first quarter of 2016, we are intending to deliver the following changes and developments for our FR members:-
A new simplified Star Award chart of 7 global zones, and 4 mileage based sub zones in each global zone, with attractive levels. Viz. in the zone comprising USA, only 5000 FR points required for redemption on sectors less than 500 KM like New York to Washington or San Francisco to Los Angeles.
On-line Retro or Requests for credit of lost & missing FR points.
Online upgrade with FR points on Air India & Star Alliance flights (SAUA).
Family Pooling with (one degree of separation) children and parents in addition to spouse.
Zone base Accrual & Redemption of FR points.
It has been 10 days since above mentioned planned changes including KYC have been introduced and we have been receiving feedback as well as complaints, with the major one being why prior intimation or advisory was not issued to alert FR members of the changes contemplated and many members were caught unawares or taken by surprise.
This was done to pre-empt any mass redemption of FR points from ghost / fraud / shell accounts by unscrupulous elements. FR points in FFP account are as good as Money in Bank.
We look forward to your continued patronage of the National Carrier while we endeavour to make Flying Returns Programme user friendly and safe and secure.
Thanking you once again for your patronage and requesting you to kindly bear with us,
Assuring you of our best intentions and services always,