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Frequent Flyer MilesIf you travel a lot, you may have accumulated a lot of travel miles.  As you think about the future, you may want to know if it is possible to pass on your frequent flyer miles if you were to pass.  Those flyer miles could be work a lot of money, so you would not want them to disappear if you can help it.  However, you may also find yourself at the mercy of the airline’s frequent flyer mile policies, as the laws may not address how to pass on flyer miles.

Airline Policies Regarding the Transfer of Frequent Flyer Miles

Some relevant policies include:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage: “Neither accrued mileage, nor award tickets, nor status, nor upgrades are transferable by the member (i) upon death . . . . However, American Airlines, in its sole discretion, may credit accrued mileage to persons specifically identified in court approved divorce decrees and wills upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to American Airlines and upon payment of any applicable fees.”
  • Delta Airlines SkyMiles: “Except as specifically authorized in the Membership Guide and Program Rules or otherwise in writing by an officer of Delta, miles may not be . . . transferred under any circumstances, including . . . upon death. . . . ”
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards: “Points may not be transferred to a Member’s estate or as part of a settlement, inheritance, or will. In the event of a Member’s death, his/her account will become inactive after 24 months from the last earning date (unless the account is requested to be closed) and points will be unavailable for use.”
  • United Airlines MileagePlus: “In the event of the death or divorce of a Member, United may, in its sole discretion, credit all or a portion of such Member’s accrued mileage to authorized persons upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to United and payment of applicable fees.”

Fortunately, Airfarewatchdog.com found that online policies are sometimes more restrictive than what customer representatives said over the phone.  Kathe Holmes‘s experience s one example, as she successfully claimed her late husband’s Alaska Airlines miles with minimal effort and no additional fees, even though that seemed to go against official policy.

How to Transfer Miles After Death

Ultimately, it seems that employees have the discretion of whatever to approve the transfer of frequent flyer miles.  While that does mean that your loved ones have some options, that also mean that there will be uncertainty about whether your loved ones can inherit your miles.

Fortunately, you have some options now of what to do.  You can use your will to pass on your miles.  You can also give your online account information to whomever you want to use your miles and they can use your miles as long as the airline allows such a transfer.

As with everything else with your estate, communication is key.  You should talk with your loved ones so they know what your wishes are.

Final Thought on Frequent Flyer Miles

Your frequent flyer policies are subject to change as the airline wants.  The best option would be to use your flyer miles as you can.  You should also proactively address your frequent flyer miles as part of your larger estate plan.