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American’s ‘Miles With No Expiration’? Not!

American’s ‘Miles With No Expiration’? Not!

You’d think that American — mired in bankruptcy and fending off an unwanted acquisition push by US Airways — would be doing everything in its power to retain the loyalty and goodwill of its customers. After all, the airline’s exit from Chapter 11 and its future independence both depend on its financial wellbeing. Which in turn depends largely on its ticket revenues. Which depend on travelers’ willingness to book American. Which depends on loyalty and goodwill.

A newly announced policy change would suggest that such common sense business logic is beyond the ken of American’s brain trust. Yes, that would be the same brain trust that managed the company into bankruptcy.

The airline has declared that what it originally dubbed Miles With No Expiration — as in, "These miles will never expire" — will in fact expire.

Miles With No Expiration are AAdvantage miles earned prior to July 1, 1989. Thereafter, AAdvantage miles were rebranded as Miles Subject to Expiration. The current policy: Miles expire after 18 months of account inactivity.

Sure, we can all sympathize with American’s quandary. They set a policy, circumstances changed, and now they’re stuck with two incompatible policies.

The choice is a stark one: honor the promise implicit in Miles With No Expiration, or break that promise.

Cynically, and stupidly, American opted for the latter.

To take some of the sting out of the betrayal, American will add a bonus of 25 percent when the non-expiring miles are automatically converted to expiring miles on November 1.

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but still a slap in the face. And that at a time when the airline can least afford to be disenfranchising its customers.

Action Item

The conversion will take place on the above-mentioned schedule, with no action required on the part of those with affected miles.

But there is still time to cash in your old miles for awards priced according to the award chart in effect when those miles were earned.

According to the conversion FAQ:

If you have at least 10,000 unredeemed miles that were earned prior to July 1, 1989, you may contact AAdvantage Reservations at 800-882-8880 to claim a "Regular" Award. For a list of awards, please contact AAdvantage Reservations.

Once the miles have been converted, all redemptions will be according to the current award chart.

Reader Reality Check

Do you have Miles With No Expiration in your AAdvantage account?

How do you feel about their upcoming conversion to expiring miles?

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  • KrislovLaw

    Our law firm is investigating American’s attempt to convert “Miles with No Expiration” to “Miles Subject to Expiration.” We are considering bringing a case against American Airlines on this matter and invite you to contact us. Our firm has successfully represented consumers against companies in bankruptcy, including our representation of Sharper Image Gift Card Holders. If you wish to discuss with us your potential rights in this matter, please contact Clint Krislov, Mike Karnuth or Chris Hack at Krislov & Associates, Ltd., (312) 606-0500; or by email clint@krislovlaw.com; mike@krislovlaw.com; or chris@krislovlaw.com. You can also visit our website at http://www.krislovlaw.com.

  • barney

    If people can’t put in the minimal effort through the various available partner programs every 18 months to keep their miles “alive”, why do they even care if they expire?

    To keep my United miles alive, I have lunch every week at a MileagePlus restaurant. I fly UA perhaps once every 14 months.

  • Marianne

    I’ve been trying to find someone at AA who can tell me what is meant by:

    “If you have at least 10,000 unredeemed miles that were earned prior to July 1, 1989, you may contact AAdvantage Reservations at 800-882-8880 to claim a “Regular” Award. For a list of awards, please contact AAdvantage Reservations.”

    So far, none of their agents have been able to explain what a “Regular Award” is, or provide a “List of Awards”. The best I’ve been able to glean is that “Regular Awards” that applied to the old unexpired miles APPEAR to require fewer miles for redemption than the present award schedule. They can’t, or won’t provide the old award schedule. At best they say, “well tell me what trip you want to book and then I can tell you the miles, because it depends on the code in our system.” I’m trying to figure out if I should claim an award now for a trip next year – so far I’m totally stumped.

  • POPO

    I don’t think this a big deal. It’s not very difficult to extend the 18 month expiration policy. You have numerous ways of earning AA miles without having to step a single foot in a plane.

    And regarding the last post, PLEASE keep the greedy lawyers out of this. They are not concerned with consumers, but rather the cast in their pockets.

  • POPO

    *Correction to my last post. I was trying to say “cash” instead of cast.

  • Kevin Morgan

    My first question would be – how many people does this affect? I mean – no miles earned since 7/1/89 were “no expiration” miles – so you’re talking about people who earned miles 23 years ago and still haven’t finished “using” them yet. I realize not everyone books a free ticket or uses miles to upgrade right away, but – assuming first in, first out on the miles, who still has any significant number of these older miles available?

  • Marc

    Next thing you know the IRS will start taxing us on Roth IRA withdrawals.

  • kl

    The beauty of the no expiration miles was the old award chart. For example, I have 60k miles which are/were good for 2 round trips to Europe on the old award chart. I have accrued and used other miles (that expire) but those miles use the current award charts. How many tickets to Europe can I get now for 60k miles? And that is what this is really about – the old award chart that goes with the miles with no expiration.

  • Bill

    Although I wish they would last forever AA has given members 23 years to redeem the old miles – I used mine in 99 and thought that was excessively long for me to delay. Perhaps AA could make back some money by counter-suing people & lawyers that are part of any frivolous lawsuits launched that claim fictional damages.

  • kl

    fyi – from old award chart – 10k miles = upgrade to 1st class on any coach ticket that does not have advance purchase requirement (except Hawaii).

  • CSherry

    I have over 150K miles with no expiration. I saved the old mileage chart, because when the new policy was enacted, AA said – “keep the mileage chart – we’ll honor it – but we won’t tell you what the actual old awards were”. As much as I wish they wouldn’t ever expire – I think of this as savings for a fantasy vacation – I recognize the business reality. I think the conversion percentage should be more like 100% though – those awards were fantastic – e.g two business class tix to Asia for 150K.

  • Dave Romin

    FYI AA has applied a last in/first out policy when redeeming miles, therefore I still have a few miles with no expiration date although I have cashed in many miles since 1989. Bottom line no big deal and keep in mind AA has probably the most generous FF plan on the planet.

    I know Delta miles never expire but their redemption plan stinks. Try redeeming 25000 miles for a round trip in the USA…….you need to travel in the dark of night and on a day with a “blue moon”, otherwise you’re using 40000 or more miles for the same trip on AA which will only cost you 25000.

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