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You Earned ‘Em, Now Keep Your Frequent Flyer Miles From Expiring
Paradoxically, while it’s easier than ever to lose one’s miles to stricter expiration policies, it’s also easier than ever to keep them alive. We have tips, plus a roundup of the policies of 18 North American airlines.
The FrequentFlier Forum – Hot Topics
As always, there’s plenty of activity on the FrequentFlier Forum.
In the “Airline Programs” Forum, Dr. J. commented on United’s ad campaign and its promise of useable miles:
I just saw an ad describing that United now lets you use your United miles for hotels, car rental, etc. I’m psyched! I checked it out. Looks like when spent for hotels, you get a little under a penny a mile, but no hassles of whether there is award seat availability. I’ve found it very difficult to use airline miles for flights lately.
I picked a hotel hat I happen to know from a recent stay, the Harbour Marriott in Sydney, and a random date of Sept. 9. Std. city view room on United.com is 30,500 miles. Best refundable, cancel-able rate on Marriott.com is about US$260. Best non-refundable rate at marriott.com is about US220.
Anyway, this makes the 50,000 bonus point we recently got for the credit card offer (my wife was one of the chosen invited) worth around $400! Cool! I hope their points/room rates stay about the same.
Questions, answers, opinions? Post them to the Forum!
Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel
We welcome reader feedback on issues related to travel generally and frequent flyer programs in particular. Please use this link to submit comments.
Responses to Nancy W.’s Comments re Problems with Upgrading Using American Miles
“To Nancy W., who had the horrible experience with American on European upgrades on her flights out of San Diego…
“You mentioned you had 300,000 miles left over that you will not be using for flights again. I had the same experience, I took my mileage and for $30.00 joined Hilton HHonors, transfered the mileage to Hilton and now I have lovely rooms wherever I travel, Hilton, Embassy Suites, etc.
“The airlines do not know how to deal with the public in honoring airline mileage.” [VETDET]
“I believe most airlines give preference for free upgrades to their revenue generating customers. Several years ago I read a great book, The Penny Pincher’s Guide to Luxury Travel by Joel Widzer. This was one of his points. The airlines’ computers show who has base miles (from flying) and who has ancillary miles (from credit cards, etc.) and the free upgrades go to FF’s with the most base miles. I’m not carrying any water for American, but before Nancy W. switches to another airline, she should look into whether that airline has the same policy.” [Mary-Lynne F.]
“Can you put me in contact with her [Nancy W.]? I would like to see if it’s possible to get, swap, barter for her 300.000 American Airlines miles.” [Javier S.]
“If you have 300k miles, instead of paying full fare and hoping for an upgrade, just book business or first using miles. Worst case, with no flexibility, you get a round-trip AAnytime Business Award for 200k miles.” [S.]
“I think AA should just say they are raising to twice the normal amount of miles. I started going online when dates opened for Puerto Vallarta for Jan. 2011, day and night NEVER was there a 30,000 trip for business available. I had to spend 60,000 miles. Now there are some 30,000, but they make 3 stops or you have to overnight somewhere…” [Adrienne R.]
Mileage Transfer Mishap
“I am a Platinum member of Priority Club Rewards and am planning a two week trip to Italy. I recently requested to transfer 80,000 Priority Club points from my account to Alitalia, thinking they would transfer one for one. This would have allowed for a first class ticket. At no time during the conversation was I advised the conversion rate was one for five miles. IHG states that it takes five to six weeks for the points to transfer. Two days later I went into my IHG account to see that the points had been removed and the value with Alitalia would only be 16,000 points. I immediately called IHG to request request the transfer be stopped. The woman I spoke with told me she would get back to me, which she did, only to advise me that because it was not within 24 hours there was nothing they could do. I pushed this up the food chain with absolutely no result except an additional 3,800 points added to my account for the ‘inconvience.’
“Is there anything else I can do?” [Elaine L.]
[FrequentFlier.com replies – From a legal standpoint, I doubt there’s any recourse — loyalty programs typically specify that members are responsible for keeping abreast of policies and rules. There’s always the possibility of the hotel’s accommodating you on a good-will basis, but it sounds as though you’ve already escalated your request beyond the front-line agent level, so there may be little left to be gained through that channel. Still, if you have the time and energy, it never hurts to continue escalating your issue with higher levels of Priority Club management. It only takes one sympathetic employee to generate a better outcome.]
Until next week…
Win a Trip for 2 to France
Enter the Air France “Planes and Trains” sweepstakes by September 30 for a chance to win a trip for two to France, including Air France and Rail Europe tickets.
[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) $2 Spirit Sale – Ends Tonight
Ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit has slashed prices on its U.S., Caribbean, and Latin America routes for members of its fare club. (You must become a member to view the discounted rates.)
Travel at these prices is valid on specific dates in September and October, but flights must be booked by tonight, August 18.
2) $570 Fares on Delta and United to Europe and Africa
Skip on over to Ghana, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, or the U.K., among other countries with Delta’s and United’s latest international sales offering round-trip prices from $570.
Travel from September through March 2011, but book flights by August 23 for Delta flights and August 25 for United flights.