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Air India recently joined Star Alliance and I had my first flight on them since their joining, AI 803 New Delhi – Bangalore.
Of all airports I would expect them to get Star Alliance benefits rolled out in New Delhi and I am happy to report that I received a pleasant Star Alliance Gold experience:
- Priority check-in with no waiting
- Moved to excellent seat, 6D, in first row of economy on Air India’s A330-200 with tons of legroom
- Air India lounge access card given without prompting
- Priority boarding
Upon original boarding there were two people who went straight to first class. By the time we took off, all 24 seats had been filled by people coming up from the back of the plane. Reminds me of the Times of India pieces quoted by View from the Wing in There’s One HUGE Change Air India May Have to Make As it Joins Star Alliance:
Will Air India’s entry into Star Alliance from July 11 finally achieve the impossible: Clamp the brakes on free upgrades that netas, babus, other influential people and their kin have enjoyed for years by buying the cheapest economy tickets but getting ‘bumped’ up to business or first class? Or check the age-old practice of AI employees filling up these seats?
…Now who actually enjoys these benefits — premium full-paying passengers of Star and AI or the used-to-freebies politicians, bureaucrats, the well-connected and their kin or maids — has become a million-dollar question. Almost every day, the aviation ministry gets dozens of letters from everyone who is a someone to get upgraded on AI flights. “All aviation ministers have routinely obliged fellow politicos and the ministry’s bureaucrats have similarly helped fellow babus and their families. Our own staff feels belittled if not accommodated in the premium classes — a section of pilots went on strike on this issue! This needs to be checked now,” said a well-meaning official who has long frowned at these practices but was so far helpless due to reckless ministry interference in all governments till UPA-II. Whether NDA-II proves to be different remains to be seen. (see original Times of India article)