I and a friend flew on two different dates from the same origin airport to the same destination on the same Star Alliance airline (Air India). Both were economy class tickets and even the fare category says "Y" on both our boarding passes.

But I got almost 3x star alliance miles as he did. We are both in the same FF program (Turkish airlines.)

How does this happen? Is it an error or can the miles be so different?

4 Answers 4


Mileage earning rules are notoriously complicated (mostly by design). These days it has little or nothing to do with the actual distance flown but mostly its about how much you paid (and to whom).

Other factors include how you booked it (operating airline, OTA partner airline, crediting airline), status, who issued the ticket, fare class, class of service, etc.

Both were economy class tickets

That doesn't say much since economy ticket prices for the same seat can easily vary up to a factor of 5 or more. I would compare actually money paid first.

  • Are these rules available? Or is it entirely up to the discretion of the airline. Who sets the rules? The travelling airline, the airline whose FF program the miles get credited on, or star alliance? Apr 20 at 20:32
  • The airline you credit the miles to will set the rules. Turkish publishes their rules for partner flights here: turkishairlines.com/en-int/miles-and-smiles/program-partners but for some strange reason Air India is not listed.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 20 at 21:07
  • "etc." includes which credit card you used for the purchase
    – stannius
    Apr 21 at 14:56

Note that there are two classes concepts for airlines:

  • The service class can be one of one to four different values (economy, premium economy, business and first), and described the cabin you will fly in. The code for economy is always Y.
  • The fare class has a much longer list of classes, which dictate conditions (how far in advance you have to buy, minimum/maximum stay, exchanges and refunds allowed or not, for free or for a fee…), price, and availability. Full-fare economy (fully flexible, nearly no conditions, available nearly to the very last minute, but often very expensive) always has code Y, but there are a lot of other codes. They depend on each airline (and possibly flight), but common codes are R, T, M, V, etc.

Airlines are not very consistent on which code they will show where. Boarding passes will often show the service class rather than the fare class (it gives a quick indication to agents of the class of travel, and thus whether you are allowed early boarding, which jetway/door to use, etc.

Your ticket should have the fare class. Note that the fare class is the first letter of the fare code, which is a longer combination of letters and sometimes digits, usually 4 to 8 characters long, which is more likely to be shown on your ticket.

It is relatively unlikely you had tickets in fare class Y (remember, those are very expensive — a Y ticket can be more expensive than some business class tickets), so you probably actually had different fare classes (you paid a very different price).

Miles/points awarded by frequent flyer programs are usually a combination of:

  • Either the price paid or the number of miles flown
  • The fare class
  • The frequent flyer elite status of the passenger
  • The sales channel used
  • The operating airline and FF program you are crediting to.

It’s common nowadays to have ratios between the cheapest economy light ticket and a fully flexible ticket on the same flight of 4 or more (e.g. cheapest ticket gets 25% of the miles while full fare gives 100%). On some airlines, some fare classes will even not award any miles at all.

  • 1
    The last point is unfortunately true. I flew a LH round trip trying to credit to United, but the return flight earned zero miles since it was too low a fare class for United to accept. It would have earned miles on LH though, so I should have credited it there.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 21 at 11:37

To answer more precisely, Air India uses one of three ways to calculate the number of miles granted for a particular flight:

  1. For tickets booked through a specific list of sales channels, your are granted either 4 or 5 (if you have FF status) miles for each € spent on the ticket.
  2. For other sales channels, shorter flights give you a fixed number of miles based on the booking class
  3. Longer flights give you a number of miles based on the actual distance flown multiplied with a booking class dependent factor ranging from 0.25 for the cheapest tickets to 3 for the most expensive tickets.

From what you are writing, at least one of you have ordered the ticket through a sales channel for which the number of miles is calculated based on the ticket price.

You can find the mile reward rules from Air India here, where they also link for details to the complete set of rules used by all Star Alliance airlines.

  • 1
    I'm not sure Air India's rules apply here. The OP is crediting the miles to Turkish Airlines, I'm fairly certain that this is governed by Turkish Airline rules. The sales channel also matters: typically rules are different depending on who issued the ticket.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 20 at 21:15
  • @Hilmar The Star Alliance members share their reward miles, so OP is not granted 'Turkish Airline miles' but 'Star Alliance miles' when flying with Air India. In the Star Alliance bonus program, there are slight differences in how miles are calculated depending on which airline is operating the flight. Apr 21 at 9:35
  • I don't think this is correct. The link that you provided are only Lufthansa Miles and More rules not "Star Alliance" in general. The only generic Star Alliance page I found is staralliance.com/en/earn which only directs you to your specific program. I don't believe there such a thing as "Star Alliance Miles", the OP earned Miles & Smiles miles on their Turkish Airlines account governed by the rules of that specific program. You can't use these miles anywhere else.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 21 at 12:47
  • 1
    Specifically "You can join multiple member airline frequent flyer programmes if you wish, but they are each managed separately, so you cannot transfer miles or points between them or combine them into one. " (staralliance.com/en/earn)
    – Hilmar
    Apr 21 at 12:47

The fare code that is used for mileage calculation for Air India is the first letter of the "Fare Basis" on the ticket. As far as I can tell (anecdotally from flying), all their Economy fares will have "Economy Y" on the boarding pass regardless of the fare basis.

It will look like this (I unfortunately don't have the accompanying boarding pass, but I am pretty sure all my AI flights have said Y on the boarding pass): enter image description here

For Turkish Miles & Smiles this would earn 25%: https://www.turkishairlines.com/en-int/miles-and-smiles/program-partners/airlines/air-india/

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .