Frequent Flyer Miles

Have you saved up miles on various airlines for years just waiting for that special day when you will call them into action?

Will you use them to upgrade your back of the plane coach seat to first class, or to travel across one of the oceans to explore another continent, or perhaps to take a free airplane trip to a long awaited and fabulous dream destination?

I have saved some.  Well, not thousands of miles, but enough to do something I suppose.

Each and every time I use my credit card for big and little purchases I know that I am also racking up the miles I dream of converting to a dream trip to Africa or Australia, or a world cruise with my family.

But what happens to your frequent flyer miles when you die?

The answer is varied. It all depends on the airline.  As usual, nothing is easy or standard.

Here's a recent New York Times article addressing just that question

Here are some current facts:

Airlines that currently allow transfer or use of a decedant's unused mileage account...

  • American
  • US Air
  • Jet Blue

And those that don't...

  • Southwest

And those that won't say...

  • Delta
  • United

In any case, it is best to contact each airline (hopefully to a human being) where you have a frequent flyer account, or any account that awards points for transactions for that matter, and ask that specific question. Be sure to get the name and number of the person you spoke with for your files. 

I know people who travel a lot and have  amassed many, many valuable miles. It would be a shame to not use them or to lose them.

In the New York Times article mentioned above, an estate attorney mentions some basic language you can add to your will that might just solve any issues that arise upon the death of the account owner. It's worth a try.

"I give and bequeath the miles or points, as the case may be, in my American Airlines AAdvantage account, my Starwood Preferred Guest account, and all other loyalty, mileage, points or similar accounts to my spouse xxx, if she survives me and, if she does not, in equal shares to those of my children who survive me."

Not a bad idea for those of you who have this kind of "asset"  in your estate. Perhaps even the decedent's mileage can be used to pay for the transportation costs of flying all of your loved ones to your memorial or funeral service.

My other advise is don't wait.

Use those thousands of miles and those saved points and take that trip first class with your family or friends around the world soon!

After all, you never know when the inevitable will happen!  

Care to share any frequent flyer miles stories?