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FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 3/4 [Monthly posting]
Section - [3-11] Frequent Flyer Programs

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American Airlines introduced frequent flyer programs in 1981 to
encourage customer loyalty. The other major airlines quickly followed
suit. Together, the 70+ frequent flyer programs give out more than 10
million free tickets annually.

Most programs (e.g., United, American, USAir, and Northwest) will give you
a free US domestic roundtrip for 20,000 miles, a ticket to Hawaii or the
Carribbean for 30,000, a ticket to Europe for 40,000 and a ticket to
Australia or Asia for 60,000. Each airline, however, has its own set
of rules and somewhat different mileage levels. Delta requires 30,000
miles for a free US domestic ticket. Given joining bonuses and mileage
promotions, one can sometimes reach this with one overseas flight.
Northwest and USAir give you a minimum of 750 (Delta, 1000) miles for
each flight segment.  Northwest will give you two one-way tickets for
20,000 miles. NWA will not preissue boarding passes the day before the
flight. Some airlines will award two tickets for less than twice the
mileage needed for one ticket. For example, it is possible to get two
tickets to the Carribbean from Continental for only 40,000 miles.

Note: The minimum number of miles required for a US domestic roundtrip
ticket will increase to 25,000 on United, USAir, and American on
8/1/94, 1/1/95, and 2/1/95, respectively. Since the travel
certificates are good for one year, be sure to redeem your frequent
flyer miles a few days before the deadline, or you'll have to earn an
extra 5,000 miles for a free ticket. Other changes include an increase
to 45,000 miles for a free first-class US domestic ticket on American, an
increase to 50,000 miles for a free roundtrip ticket to Europe on
United (as of 2/1/95), and a reduction in the minimum number of FF
miles awarded per leg from 750 to 500 on Northwest. Northwest has also
announced that it is dropping out of the American Express Membership
Miles program (1 miles per $1 spent) on 3/31/94 or 4/30/94. Current
members of AmEx Membership Miles are Continental, Delta, Southwest,
and USAir.  Northwest is switching to an arrangement with First Bank
Visa (800-948-8300) and has already dropped their deal with Bank One
Visa.  Delta, Continental, USAir and Southwest are staying in the
program.  (Call 1-800-AXP-MILE for more information.)  United will
stop its practice of automatically mailing out award certificates at
the 20,000 mile mark on 10/1/94, and will issue them only upon
request, just like all the other frequent flyer programs. Northwest
will allow frequent fliers to obtain a US domestic ticket for 20,000
miles (instead of 25,000 miles) as of 2/1/95 only if they travel from
mid-September through mid-November.

If you're using a frequent flyer ticket and traveling with a
companion, give the award ticket to your companion so that you can
rack up more miles on your paid-for ticket. Moreover, paid tickets are
upgradable, while free tickets often aren't.

Delta has established a "Rapid Redemption" program that allows you to
redeem your frequent flyer miles for free tickets when buying a ticket
by phone or at a Delta ticket office. There is a $60 charge, however,
for this service. (The charge is per transaction.) You can still
redeem the old way without the extra charge. Frequent flyer miles can
also be exchanged for upgrades at no extra charge.

Northwest's frequent flyer records do not seem to record flights that were
changed after ticketing, so check the records carefully. However, Northwest
recently installed a new phone system (1-800-327-2881) that lets you
request a review of tickets to adjust your account.

Air Canada              1-800-361-8253
   Partners with Austrian, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, First Air,
   Singapore
Alaska Airlines         1-800-654-5669
   Partners with Northwest, TWA
Aloha Airlines          1-800-486-7277
AAdvantage (American)   1-800-882-8880
   Partners with TWA, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Canadian
   Cancels miles after 3 years.
America West            1-800-247-5691
   Partners with Virgin Atlantic
Canadian                1-604-270-7587
   Partners with Air France, Lufthansa, American, Qantas (for flights
   between Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, and Canada).
Continental             1-713-952-1630
   Partners with Air France, KLM.
Delta                   1-800-323-2323
   Partners with Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Japan Air Lines (no
   economy), KLM, Lufthansa, Singapore, Swissair 
   Restrictions: US/Canadian residents only, only with voucher,
   travel must originate in US.
MarkAir                 1-800-MarkAir (1-800-627-5247)
   500 miles for signing up, free travel starts after 10,000 miles.
Midwest Express         1-800-452-2022
Northwest               1-800-447-3757
   Partners with KLM.
TWA                     1-800-325-4815, 1-800-221-2000
   Partners with American, Alaska, Air India, British Airways
United                  1-800-421-4655
   Partners with Air France. Travel must originate in US. Also
   partners with SAS, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Aeromar (Mexico), Antillean
   Airlines (ALM -- to Caribbean), Aloha Airlines, Ansett Australia,
   Ansett New Zealand, British Midland, Emirates (Middle East),
   Gulfstream International (Caribbean), Sunaire Express (Caribbean),
   Transbrasil, and TW Express. Mileage is given only
   for the legs connecting a U.S. city to Europe for theses airlines.
   If you are continuing onward to say Asia, you will not receive
   mileage on United on the leg from Europe to Asia.
USAir                   1-800-872-4738 (frequent traveler service ctr)
			1-800-442-2784 (international award travel)
			1-800-428-4322 (US domestic reservations)
   Partners with British Airways and AF.
British Airways  	1-800-955-2748
   Lets you combine the mileage for up to four family members.
   Partners with USAir.
Hawaiian Airlines Gold Plus 1-800-367-7637
Mexicana Frequent Flyer 1-800-531-7901

USAir has a frequent flyer program for undertakers (or is it a
"frequent dier" program?). Ship 30 corpses with USAir, and you get a
free US domestic round trip ticket.

If you catch an earlier flight, make sure that your frequent flyer
number is recorded, even if you gave the number when checking in for
the first flight. Frequent flyer numbers do not necessarily transfer
from one record to another when you change flights. If this happens to
you, send a copy of your ticket receipt and boarding pass to the
airline to get your mileage recorded. (You may be able to just call
the customer service department and tell them the ticket number from
your receipt, instead.) It pays to ask about your frequent flyer
number every time: when you make reservations, when you check in, and
when you arrive at the gate for each flight segment.

If you exchanged miles for a certificate but find you can't use it,
some programs allow you to redeposit the miles back into your frequent
flyer account, sometimes for a fee. Another option is to exchange the
certificate for an "open" ticket. Such a ticket has a fixed origin and
destination, but leaves the departure and return dates unspecified,
and can be used for up to a year from the date of issue.  With the
recent mileage increases in frequent flyer programs, this alternative
is especially attractive, since it effectively extends an expiring
certificate for up to a year.

If you want to use a free frequent flyer ticket, be sure to get the
tickets well in advance of the flight. Seating for free tickets is
usually limited on most flights, and tends to fill up fast. If you
find that there are no seats available when you want to fly, try
another airport. It may pay to drive 50-100 miles to catch a free
flight from a smaller airport, even if you have to pay for long-term
parking. 

Most airlines will transfer frequent flyer miles to your heirs upon
your death. If there are enough miles for an award, the awards can be
issued in their names. Otherwise the miles may be transferred to their
accounts. 

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Top Document: FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 3/4 [Monthly posting]
Previous Document: [3-10] Exchanging Currency
Next Document: [3-12] Premier FF Membership

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM