The travel troubleshooter

Help, my frequent flier miles are gone

 

christopher@elliott.org

Q. 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 email 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.

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. The terms and conditions 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.

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.

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 your miles 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.

I contacted US Airways on your behalf, and it reinstated your miles.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

  • The travel troubleshooter

    My wife is in intensive care — what about her airline ticket?

    Q: Earlier this year, I booked flights with Expedia on Icelandair for a trip to Paris and London for my wife and me. It was to be in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. Since the day I bought the tickets, my wife was stricken with a very serious bacterial infection and has been in the intensive care unit at the hospital. If she can recover, she will be in rehabilitation for several months and will not be able to go on the trip.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Ginger root, pills and lozenges</span>

    Cruising

    Prone to seasickness? Distraction might help

    Few things will ruin a cruise faster than feeling seasick. To help prevent motion sickness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying hydrated, curbing alcohol and caffeinated drinks, eating small meals and limiting external stimuli. And while some experts say that cabins in the middle of the lower deck of a ship may help temper motion sickness, the CDC has reported that “cabin location on a cruise ship does not appear to influence the likelihood of motion sickness.”

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Glass Window Bridge:</span> The Atlantic pounds the east side of Eleuthera, the ‘Caribbean’ the west.

    The Bahamas

    The Bahama’s: Eleuthera, an island of sun, surf and solitude

    Eleuthera: Elusive, therapeutic, with empty beaches, among the most beautiful anywhere, with white or blush talcum powder sand and waters in varying shades of aquamarine, turquoise, amethyst and crystal.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category