Airline Frequent Flyer / Mileage Program Pitfalls and Problems

Mileage programs update:

As Airlines reel from the global economic recession as well as troubles that have plagued them well before that, we find most Airlines have tightened and changed  some of their frequent flyer program rules.   Historically these have been pretty generous and in my experience it’s been easy in the past to get miles credited back when they expired, but this no longer seems to be the case.

If you travel on many airlines or infrequently, you’ll want to keep track of miles expirations.  In some cases these were changed without much warning from “never expire” to “36 months of inactivity” to “18 months of inactivity”.    It’s pretty easy to go 18 months without a flight on a particular airline so consider looking for ways to sign up for programs that will add small numbers of miles to your accounts, keeping them in good standing.

ALSO use caution -in fact generally you should AVOID buying or even gifting and transferring miles from the programs unless there are very small or no extra charges.   This will take a bit of math on your part.     For example this (United Airlines Mileage Plus) transfer fee to give miles to another frequent flyer does not look too intimidating at first glance but if you do the math you see it’s probably only rarely worth the cost:

How much does the transfer of Mileage Plus miles cost?
There is a cost of US $0.015 per mile, plus a US $35 transaction fee. The order can be charged to a valid participating credit card. A member may transfer miles to a maximum of three people in one transaction.

Let’s say you (generously – aren’t you NICE! )  decide to transfer 25,000 miles to your relative / friend to buy a ticket out to see you.   This will cost  you $.015 x 25,000 + $35, or a whopping   $410 !      In many cases you’d not only lose a free ticket, but you’ve paid about what they’d need for a ticket to many US locations!

As with everything …. always watch your wallet!

Frequent Flyer Program list from

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