Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Airline's Miles Can Fly Away!

Not sure about you, but my vision, even with glasses, precludes me from reading really small type on anything. This happened with an email I received from my American Airlines Advantage account.

For the purpose of this posting, I am using the word "I" in lieu of the actual person's name to provide privacy in exchange for the story.

Also, in this posting, I am not recommending any airline or credit card.  I only want to share what happened so you can be pro-active.

On the email I received, among all the promotions being advertised, it showed my mileage.  Directly below the box where the mileage appeared was, in the smallest type you can imagine and in a very light color type, a notation that my miles had expired. When I looked back and re-read the older emails, the notation was that they were going to expire. Yes a warning, but not to be noticed.

We are not talking about a few thousand.  We are talking about 277,000 miles!

I called AAdvantage Customer Service and after giving them all the reasons why I never saw this notation, or any other notation on all their emails, they basically said that they were sorry, but rules are rules.  When I mentioned that I have been an AA client for 22 years and have flown 1M miles, they thanked me for my business, but said that rules were rules.

When I asked why they couldn't send a letter, especially since so many miles would be lost, they claimed that they had too many customers and couldn't send letters out.

I am still pondering how, in this economy, an airline wants to alienate its loyal clients.

Maybe they can't send letters out to those clients with under 100,000 miles or something like that, but this was insulting.

Now you may ask, what would I have to do to regain the miles? Their answer was to  apply for a "Re-engagement Challenge."

Not sure you will believe this one, but here goes:

I have to open a Citibank AAdvantage card, charge a minimum of $750 dollars on it, take at least one round-trip flight, each way not less than 750 miles and I can get back 200,000 miles.  If I want to get it all back, I have to take another round-trip flight, same requirements, or earn 10,000 miles on any 3 of their many partners. And you have 6 months to complete the mission.

So one has to do the math to see if it is worth spending money on these flights.  The credit card is not a problem because you would only charge on the new card what you may have charged on your existing one. But, one caveat, the card is not free. It costs $85 a year.  The first year may be waived if you go through AAdvantage customer service who then connects you to Citicard.

Why am I telling you this?  If you have miles accumulating, always check the expiration date.  I was advised that as long as you use miles in your account, even if you shop with your miles, your account automatically extends the expiration date.

Why didn't I know this? Was it a matter of reading that fine print, which I cannot see anyway?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Holy shit, I am blown away. We use American Airlines' miles to go everywhere for 25 years and I will always read the fine print. Thanks so much for this info and all the others you've given us.