Where are the frequent flier miles I won?

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

Larry Babbin wins lots of frequent flier miles from American Airlines, but the points never appear on his statement. Now the company is giving him the silent treatment. Can these miles be saved?

Question

American Airlines ran a contest in which it gave away 25,000 frequent flier miles every day. I entered every day last month and “won” three times. I have email confirmation each day that I won and a written assurance that the miles would be deposited within seven days to my account.

It’s been over a month, but I haven’t received the miles. American hasn’t even posted the winners on the website even though they are listed for every other contest American has had.

I’ve made three inquiries to American by email, to no avail. I know this problem pales in comparison to those I read about on your column, but for me this is a big issue. Any ideas for me? — Larry Babbin, Toms River, N.J.

Answer

You’re both right and wrong about the magnitude of this case. As a general rule, I don’t get involved in retrieving lost loyalty points, because it’s a lot like chasing the wind. These miles are largely worthless.

But this isn’t the time for a lecture on the negative value of frequent flier miles. The point — pardon the pun — is that American promised you something repeatedly, and in writing, that it failed to deliver. I have a big problem with that.

I can’t think of any reason why American would give you the silent treatment after you contacted it. You are owed an explanation for why it was denying your prize, however useless the miles might have been. (Related: Ridiculous or not? Paying a ransom to rescue your frequent flier miles.)

I note that you were sending your complaints to a general address. I list the names of American’s executives on my website and you might have tried appealing to them.

But before you did that, you might have reviewed the contest rules one more time. You would have seen that the contest was already over. But somehow, the site allowed you to enter the contest after it closed and as the only entry, you won several times. (Here’s how to use your airline flight credit.)

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.

A positive outcome

Whose fault is that? Well, American should have made sure the contest was closed when it ended, so that’s on them. You should have paid closer attention to the dates, if not when you entered, then when you complained about not getting the miles.

Still, a promise is a promise. American said you had won 25,000 miles, and I’m sure your multiple entries were nothing more than an innocent mistake. (Some frequent flier programs are more useless than others.)

My advocacy team and I contacted American. A representative emailed you back, saying, “We value your business and will honor 25,000 miles to make sure your customer experience is positive.”

I love a happy ending.

Who was to blame for this misunderstanding?

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.

Related Posts