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Old Feb 5, 2015, 9:39 am
  #4  
deovrat
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: India
Programs: Star Alliance Gold, SkyTeam Elite Plus, Hilton Gold
Posts: 911
Originally Posted by Keyser
share away....would be interesting to know what they had to say....
Well, I have my eye on a trip in December/January. So I decided to try and get some dummy redemption so that I wouldn't get any nasty surprises later on. I figured I could cancel that award ticket later on.

This is where the first hurdle started. Air India won't let you book an award by phone. They can only tell you if award space is available for a flight and can calculate the taxes, and thats it.
Alright. I picked up the phone and asked for a business class award seat BOM-GRU for a random date, which I confirmed beforehand to have availability on LH via FRA and SA via JNB too.
The agent couldn't find any space. Neither could the next one. Or the one after that.

At the fourth attempt, I asked him if I can manually suggest flight numbers to him so he can search for them individually and build an itinerary.
This worked to an extent and he could see award space, but at the time of pricing, he quoted me BOM-FRA + FRA-GRU miles and not BOM-GRU miles, as he should have. This was the first sign of trouble.

Subsequent attempts on a lazy Sunday revealed that their computers can only price an award point to point. I assume that because Air India priced their own awards on a point to point basis before they joined *A, their agents can't join 2 tickets together for a single itinerary. Turned out their IT systems are not updated either. One guy actually listened to me and told me I was right, but there was no way he can override the system or anything. None of the supervisors I asked could help out any more than that either.

Frustrated, I managed to get through to an Air India FR official and we emailed back and forth. I won't reveal his name or position for the sake of anonymity, but suffice to say that his rank suggested that if anyone could make changes, it would be him.

I wrote him a detailed explanation about if the system was only pricing out point-to-point, then Star Alliance chart was pointless. e.g. There is no non-stop BOM-GRU flight, so that the system could never price an award for BOM-GRU rates in the chart, the rates would always be inflated since they charged each segment separately.

Furthermore, I explained that the "One Stopover or one open-jaw permitted per itinerary" rule was redundant. There can never be a stop-over or an open-jaw when you are only pricing point-to-point.

Long story short, he really listened carefully, asked some clarification questions proactively; and in the end, told me that I was right on all counts and admitted that he had to change some things quickly.

2 days later, I got a confirmation from him that he has held a meeting with their IT guys and their "Service Provider" (I assume its SITA) and informed them about the changes that they needed to make. However, he could not give me a timescale as to when this would be sorted out, though I was promised to be kept informed.
I thought this was quite candid of the guy to accept the system's mistakes and then try to rectify them; especially considering how hard it is in India to convince a (semi)Government official. I'd give them a month or two and try to follow up.


So, for those interested in Flying Returns redemptions for Star Alliance as well as any beginners with us, these are the salient points as of February 2015:


                I hope that this was informative. I would of course keep you updated as and when I can get additional information.

                Last edited by deovrat; Feb 5, 2015 at 11:02 pm
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