Opening Remarks – February, 25 2004

Opening Remarks – February, 25 2004

The Fine Print
The emails and letters started to flow into my office in early February. Most were so well written they did not raise the ire of my new spam filter — so every last one of them landed in my Inbox. They were similarly sad in their pleas for help. Some offered up testimonies of only small losses, while others, wrote of losses that ran well into the hundreds of thousands. As the letters quickly multiplied, it became clear where these communiques were coming from. As I started the unpleasant task of trying to offer up the facts and the news that all was lost, I couldn’t help but ask myself; Why hadn’t these people appeared on my doorstep before this? It had to be that these frequent flyers simply did not know where to look, where to find answers and where to read the news that might have kept them from this latest assault on their frequent flyer miles.

What might I be talking about? Well, it’s the final migration of the United Mileage Plus “original program miles.” I’ve written about these over the years and if you were a reader back in late 2000, you’d know that we wrote that the fine print of the United Mileage Plus program dictated the following:

“21. Mileage earned prior to July 1, 1989, if not previously redeemed or used, will be maintained in the member’s account until December 15, 2000. Miles may be transferred by the member into the new Program. All such mileage thus transferred shall be treated as if earned on the date of transfer, shall be subject to expiration three (3) years after the date of transfer as if credited to the account after February 1, 1995 (see #22 below), and may be used to redeem awards in effect at the time of redemption until such time as they expire.”

“22. Post-July 1, 1989 miles held in a member’s account on February 1, 1995 (which shall be treated for these purposes as if earned on February 1, 1995), or credited to the member’s account on or after February 1, 1995, shall be maintained in the account until they are redeemed for an award or until they expire, whichever occurs first. All such miles maintained in a member’s account will expire on December 31 of the third year after they are earned or, in the case of pre-July 1, 1989 miles transferred into the new Program, on December 31 of the third year after the transfer.”

Essentially, on December 16, 2000, all original program miles were rolled into “new” miles, subject to the same expiration dates that any Mileage Plus miles have — that being they expire after three years if there is no activity in a members Mileage Plus account.

There’s no way at this point to reverse that event and unfortunately these Mileage Plus members (not readers) learned that lesson the hard way. These programs are really not as simple as many would believe. Though many can, and do, simply sign up and hope that over the years their blind luck will reward them with a free trip to Hawaii, I certainly don’t recommend that approach. On the other hand, I do recommend investing some of your time into actually managing your miles. I love the quote over on MileageManager.com, “… their deceptively simple, yet endlessly complicated frequent flyer programs.” I’ll answer as many of these as I can and then get back to answering the other questions that come in so often these days.

The other questions seem to revolve around the status of Delta SkyMiles. Repeat after me: “I (your name) do solemnly swear, to not be afraid of the current situation that Delta Air Lines has gotten themselves in to; to go about my business with that airline and their partners as I would in any other day in which I really want to earn more frequent flyer miles. Unless I read it in InsideFlyer magazine, I will not pause to consider any other advice regarding my SkyMiles. Amen.” Now that I’ve got you through that, let’s return to our normally scheduled programming.

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