Air India To Join Star Alliance (Again)

Back in 2007 it was announced that Air India had intentions to join the Star Alliance, but for years nothing happened. Then in 2011 they stopped the process, because apparently Air India didn’t meet “Star Alliance standards” (shocker!). Via USA Today:

Star says that “suspension was a joint decision which allowed Air India to focus on completing its merger with Indian Airlines, without the distraction of the work required for full integration into the Star Alliance network.”

However, Star’s 2011 decision to halt Air India’s integration came as Air India had been grappling with a series of financial, operational and customer-service issues.

In fact, Star itself said in a July 2011 statement that Air India’s application had been “suspended … due to the fact that Air India has not met the minimum joining conditions that were contractually agreed in December 2007.”

Anyway, at a board meeting yesterday in Vienna, the Star Alliance CEO announced that the Star Alliance member airlines “decided unanimously to recommence the integration process with Air India.” No timeline has been set yet, so for all we know it could be several more years.

Now personally I’m really excited about Air India joining Star Alliance, and I can’t wait to fly them. I know I’m perhaps crazy, but Air India as near the top of the list of airlines I want to try, because I’ve heard the onboard experience is one of a kind (I’ve done Jet Airways and enjoyed that, though based on what I’ve heard Air India is in a different league). I just hope that on my flight the pilots don’t trick the flight attendants into flying the plane while they take naps in business class.

Beyond that, though, I objectively think that any new airline member is an asset to an alliance based on the new routes they open up, and the added benefits you get when flying them.

So let’s hope their joining process this time is less dramatic than the previous aborted four year process.


  1. I flew Air India from JFK-LHR in 1985. It was and still is the single worst flight experience I’ve ever had. This announcement doesn’t excite me. It terrifies me!

  2. To imagine that when SQ started, they used Air India as a role model!
    Shocking but true – it was different till 1975.
    Private AI under Tata was quite different from AI under Indian Govt

  3. You’ve got to be kidding? Count me out too – 9W and AI are two entirely different propositions altogether. Yikes!

    BTW It seems like all the alliances are fading a bit..

  4. @Stephan – not sure I necessarily agree with that. OW seems to be on a bit of an upswing lately while I think *A is declining. And I never really pay any attention to SkyTeam so I don’t know what they’re doing..

  5. The previous abort had nothing to do with AI not being ready. It was because Lufthansa and the Govt of India (Aviation Authority) could not come to terms. I presume this has been sorted out or Lufthansa has conceded (they haven’t been given any of the additional slots they had requested).

  6. @MT – Lufthansa and Star Alliance have essentially conceded. Now that Jet Airways’s equity sale to Etihad has concluded, the only real option for *A in India is Air India. So they had to swallow their pride and invite them back in.

  7. My parents recently took a trip from India to NY in Business on AI and looking at the pictures and hearing about the service, I was pleasantly surprised. Great news of this happens quickly.

  8. the stories of horrifying service are overrated. its true that the domestic flight meal standard has fallen and the 320s are showing their tiredness but dreamliners are pumping back life and finances are getting better. what better specimen you need to prove this other tan invitation by *a itself

  9. Friends of mine recently flew in AI Y and said it was the best experience they’d had flying to India nonstop (rated it above UA J service-wise). I thought they were lying, but I saw how much space they had in Y and the food served, and made me curious what F/J get.

    I’d love to check out AI F/J to India … I’ve always flown other carriers from the US to India, like LH/BA/AF/DL/UA/CX/SQ/JL over the years.

  10. I flew Air India a few times in the 80s and 90s. They are the benchmark…for the absolute worst airline around. Horrible airline (at least back then).

  11. Lucky,

    I flew Air India a couple of years back. Their ground services are abysmal, their IT system is worse than Delta’s, and they’re expensive. However, service on-board is one of the best I’ve seen! And I’ve seen the days of SwissAir handing out chocolate boxes and miniature airplanes in Biz (before the bankruptcy). AI matched up to any European airline in terms of on-board service.

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