View Full Version : Frequent Flyer Programs

10-25-2007, 12:40 AM
Frequent flyer programs allow you to earn certain travel benefits based on the number of miles (or occasionally the number of trips) you fly on a particular airline. Typical awards include a free ticket or a free upgrade from coach to first class. Some airlines also offer "elite" programs which provide check-in and boarding priorities, and "affinity" credit cards which earn mileage credits when you use them for purchases.

In order to earn these benefits you must become a member of that airlineís program; this can often be done through a travel agency. There is no limit to the number of programs you may join. Before deciding which program(s) to join, compare them carefully. You donít want to get "hooked" on one program by accumulating a high mileage balance, only to learn that another program offers superior benefits for your particular situation. In making your decision you should consider:
the rate at which credits are earned,
minimum credits earned per flight (e.g. you are only going 200 miles but the airline always credits at least 500)
whether you are most interested in free tickets for yourself, "companion tickets," or upgrades,
how much credit is needed for the awards you are interested in,
deadlines for using accumulated credits (e.g., in some programs miles expire after three years),
whether the airline serves the cities you would like to travel to, and whether it has tie-ins to other airlines (especially foreign carriers) and to hotels and car rental companies you would use,
whether awards are transferable or for the memberís use only. Each airlineís program carries certain conditions and limitations. You should carefully read the promotional material and the "fine print" booklet that the airline should give you when you become a member. Also, pay attention to notices that you receive in the mail after you enroll; they sometimes describe changes in the program.

Here are some other important considerations to keep in mind when comparing frequent flyer programs:
Airlines reserve the right to make changes, often on short notice. This can include changes to the conditions and limitations and also to the awards and the rate at which awards are earned.
Keep track of the mileage you have earned, and check it against the statement that the airline mails you. Keep your boarding pass and the "passenger coupon" portion of your ticket
If the airline adds a new route after you enroll, especially an international one, you may be able to earn mileage on that route but not use awards there.
Donít plan to use an award immediately after earning enough credit for it. The airline needs time to credit the most recent mileage and then issue an award certificate or ticket.
Availability of space on flights for frequent flyers is often treated in the same manner with many of the same conditions as deeply discounted air fares. This could include advance reservation requirements, blackout periods (generally during peak travel times, including holidays), length-of-stay limits, and limits on the number of frequent flyer seats on many flights (to as few as zero on some flights).
If your award flight is canceled or greatly delayed, can you travel on another airline? If your own plans change after an award ticket is issued, can the ticket be used on another flight, or can the trip be canceled and the mileage re-credited to your account? One special reminder: airlines often restrict the transferability of mileage earnings. Almost without exception, the sale (or even attempted sale) of credits or awards violates the provisions of the program and may result in the revocation of all accumulated mileage and/or termination of your participation in the program. However, awards can usually be given to others as gifts.

Persons who buy coupons also run a risk. If the airline suspects that the bearer of a coupon or ticket is not the party designated to use the travel document, the airline may refuse to honor it and may even confiscate it. In such cases, the airline invariably disclaims any obligation to the bearer of the coupon or ticket; the purchaserís recourse, if any, would be with the seller of the travel document.

The Department of Transportation does not regulate airline frequent flyer programs. These are matters of individual company policy. If you are dissatisfied with the way a program is administered, changes which may take place, or the basic terms of the agreement, you should complain directly to the company. If such informal efforts to resolve the problem are unsuccessful, you may wish to consider legal action through the appropriate civil court.

07-02-2011, 06:46 PM
I stand by what I said. I have been a member since 1999 and I know the rules. Delta has changed the rules, so they never have to give a ticket to someone who has 25,000 domestic miles.

08-07-2011, 01:24 PM
We applied for a new credit card. It was exciting. We would be automatically given 25,000 air miles and could fly anywhere in the continental U.S. We started using the card and making plans about where we would go. While our miles were adding up we decided that we wanted to go to Montana to see Steve’s grandson.
I went online to Mileage Plus to book our flight. Ok, I need to look up the pass word. Got it. What is the Mileage Plus number? Got the credit card and found the number. Where does the trip start from, what is the destination, what day, what time return date, how many people, press search. Oh you forgot to include something. I included it and it still wouldn’t go through. On and on so I thought it would be better to call Member Services direct.
After a long discussion with an automated voice that kept giving me choices to get the information I wanted I finally pressed 0 and got on a 5 minute wait line to be able to talk with a live person.
When the lady from another country answered, I asked her to talk slowly because I couldn’t understand her accent. I began to give the information needed. Booking from San Luis Obispo to Kalispell, Montana. I gave the starting date, etc. and after a long delay, I was told that there were no seats available for that date. I asked if there were any seats available in September and she said no. I asked about October and November, but there were no seats available. When I asked when any seats would be available I was told I would have to call back at a later date.
I then called United Airlines direct. They told me that there were plenty of seats available from San Luis Obispo to Kalispell and the cost would be $694.00 per person.
Steve called the credit card company for help and they said that the credit card company has nothing to do with Mileage Plus so they can be of no help. This is the same credit company that issued the miles.
On an outside chance, I called Mileage Plus again and a young man in the Philippines answered. He asked me spell San Luis Obispo and California. He finally found a flight going from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco, to Chicago, to Denver and then to Kalispell, Montana and I would have to go for 4 days instead of 3. I asked if there was a later date that we could only go for three days and after some time he found one in late October. I booked the flight. The actual booking took 45 minutes and then I was given a booking number and was told that I would receive conformation via e-mail. When I checked the email the starting point was Saint Louis, Missouri so we had to start all over.
The answer then was “from San Luis Obispo to Kalispell there are no seat available in September or October or November.” When asked when the next seat would become available the answer was, “you’ll have to call back at a later date.” (12:30 pm)
Bette Calkins

08-07-2011, 02:42 PM
Frequent flyer programmes are a con. It is simply a waste if time. You are far better to look for the cheapest flights and travel then. The airlines create rules to suppress their use. If they didnt and they had to book the mileage as liabilities, all the major airlines except Southwest would be bankrupt.

08-08-2011, 01:48 PM
I believe that what I'm hearing confirms what I think that companies have become more and more careless abut their image. They are no longer afraid to be considered greedy, fraudulent,fake and dishonest with the little people (those that have struggled to make the first rung of any rewards). They do manage, however, not to antogonize their business and 1st class customers who rack up hundreds of thousands of miles. Kind of like our government that mostly ignores the majority, thus making them powerless, and caters to the super rich.