HeraldNet Ticket Giveaway

Fill out my online form.
The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar

Splash! Summer guide

Weekend to-do list
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Saturday, February 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Unemployed mom loses award miles

Question: 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.
Answer: 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.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of "Scammed." Read more travel tips on his blog, www.elliott.org or email him at celliott@ngs.org.
© 2012 Christopher Elliott/ Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Story tags » Air travel

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

HeraldNet highlights

Starting nine
Starting nine: Tasting beers under the sun at the Everett Craft Beer Fest
Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (new photos)
Change of focus
Change of focus: Photography gives retired deputy a new purpose
Growing pains
Growing pains: Lake Stevens makes plans to cope with rapid expansion