Help, my frequent flier miles are gone!

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

Marianne MacKenzie’s US Airways miles have expired, but worse, her son’s are gone too. He almost had enough points for a ticket. Is he out of luck?

Question

My 16-year-old son and I have had our US Airways miles taken away from us. He had 27,893 miles and I had 829 miles. They expired a few days ago.

I’m a single mom and recently lost my job. I’ve been overwhelmed and did not notice the e-mail that warned me about the expiration of the miles.

I called US Airways, but a representative said I was too late. I’ve been a loyal US Airways customer for years, but didn’t sign up for US Airways’ loyalty program until recently.

My son almost had enough miles for an award ticket. I don’t want him to lose his miles, which he was planning to use when he graduated from high school. I don’t want to lose my miles, either.

US Airways says it will reinstate my miles for $150, but I can’t afford it. And honestly, we’ve earned those miles. Can you help? — Marianne MacKenzie, Lakewood, Colo.

Answer

I’m sorry to hear about your circumstances. When you called US Airways, it should have shown more compassion toward your situation and considered extending the life of your award miles.

But it didn’t have to. This isn’t the first complaint we’ve received about US Airways. The terms and condition of your US Airways miles are clear: use ‘em or lose ‘em. You squirreled away your points as if they were acorns, which unfortunately, they are not. Miles depreciate over time, and often expire when they aren’t put to good use.

Insured Nomads helps you get travel insurance for as low as $2.88 per day, and options to add trip cancellation, global legal assistance, car rental cover and adventure sports. Award-winning plans. Exceptional service. Digital policy card to store with to your boarding pass and loyalty programs in your Apple/Google Wallet, in-app emergency button, lounge access for registered delayed flights and so much more than just medical. It’s peace of mind to reduce the uncertainty and travel with confidence short term for leisure and even longer for remote work, or your cruise and safari excursions. TrustPilot reviewed ”Excellent.” Read more and get covered.

Not that they are of any use. For many leisure travelers, frequent flier miles have a negative value.

What do I mean by that? Well, say your son books an award seat, and you decide to fly with him. If US Airways’ flights are more expensive than those of a competitor, and if your son previously chose US Airways over another cheaper airline when he earned the miles – which is what happens often – then the miles effectively have a negative value. In other words, they cost more than they were worth. (Here’s our ultimate guide to travel loyalty programs.)

By now, you already know that you could have easily avoided this by not allowing your miles to expire. All it takes is a little activity on your account, and you get to keep the points.

I think US Airways’ offer to reinstate you for $150 was a little high – you could probably buy the ticket you wanted for about that much. What’s more, it didn’t really take into account your own situation. Every decision to apply an airline’s rules should factor in a passenger’s personal circumstances. Unfortunately, this one didn’t.

My advocacy team and I contacted US Airways on your behalf, and it reinstated you.

By the way … We’re just a few “likes” away from hitting lucky number 1,000 on our Away is Home page. If you’re number 1k today, you win the weekend rental from Hertz!

Do frequent flier miles expire too easily?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
Photo of author

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

Related Posts