How did 550,000 Hilton points become 55,000 Delta miles? And can you undo it, please?

Serg64/Shutterstock
Serg64/Shutterstock
When Gale Flake tries to convert his Hilton points to Delta SkyMiles, something gets lost in the translation. Can the conversion be undone?

Question: I recently read your story about how persistence pays and it inspired me to write to you about my problem with Delta and Hilton HHonors. I’m a gold member of HHonors, Hilton’s loyalty program, and have saved for many years to plan a trip to Paris. I have accrued 550,000 points, and wanted to redeem them for a flight.

I called Hilton and they suggested that I contact Delta to handle the transaction. I did. At the end of the transaction, I learned that I’d been reduced to 55,000 Delta miles.
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Can this trip be saved? Help, my airline wants more miles

Glenn Valentine wants to use his frequent flier points to get from Orlando to Sao Paolo, but Delta Air Lines wants too many miles for the trip.

“The system wanted an additional 50,000 to 100,000 Skymiles [for one leg],” he says.

That’s not uncommon. Other airlines, notably the old Continental, had a double or nothing program for frequent fliers trying to redeem their miles.

Is it right for an airline to keep asking for miles? Should I step in and ask Delta to drop its demand?

Before I continue, a few notations about “Can this trip be saved.” Just because I’m asking the question doesn’t mean I don’t already know the answer (although that doesn’t necessarily apply to this week’s case).

Also, the fact that I’m asking if a trip can be saved doesn’t mean I’m in any way endorsing a case. It only means that I’m asking for your opinion.

Back to Valentine.
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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone your frequent flier miles are expiring

Whenever I write anything about expiring frequent flier miles, I invariably get a comment or two from a grizzled road warrior who says: Serves ya right — you were warned!

True enough, airlines have done a much better job of trying to tell their customers when points are about to vanish. But they don’t always succeed.

Consider what happened to Karen Saper, who has been a Delta SkyMiles member nearly two decades.
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“I have basically been ignored”

If you’re a United Airlines or Continental Airlines frequent flier, chances are you’re a little nervous about the impending corporate marriage that will create the world’s largest airline. Rightfully so.

Mergers are messy. Loyalty programs are complex things, and combining them is never easy. Just ask Delta Air Lines, which hooked up with Northwest Airlines last year and had to put the WorldPerks and SkyMiles programs together.
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“We really feel cheated on all levels”

If you collect frequent flier miles, you already know what happens when you don’t play by the rules. You know there are exceptions to the rules. But what if you play by the rules, and still lose?

Meet Jill Noll, who thought she’d done everything right when she applied for a new American Express Membership Rewards through Delta Air Lines, and the promised SkyMiles never appeared in her account.
Read more ““We really feel cheated on all levels””