Upgrading a Friend with Miles as a Favor

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by THREEA4ME, Mar 28, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    I had a friend in need who was stuck in 28X on a transcon and was dreading it. I kept calling AA to see if I could upgrade him and, at the last minute, a seat opened up: 15K +$75. (The $100 expedited fee is waived for explats, which I'm one). He said he would happily buy my miles. I told him they were worth 1 cent a mile to my friends but that I wouldn't sell it to him for that. He could just buy me a nice dinner.

    Since I spend anywhere from 2-4 cents earning reedemable miles on AA, I thought I would ask everyone how do you value miles? What is a mile worth to you?

    (It goes without saying that I don't charge for close friends and family.)
     
  2. Colonel G
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    Colonel G Silver Member

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    I would never exchange miles for money. Too much risk that you would get caught (especially if you post it on an open forum) and jeopardize all your miles. Remember, you might know enough to keep it quiet, but does your frined? Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but that's my take on it.

    If your frined wanted to buy you dinner or or give you a gift in return, I think that would be acceptable. A favor for a favor, just no cash for miles.
     
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  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Why not give him the miles and save it as a marker for later?

    You never know when a favor is gonna come in handy. :)
     
  4. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    There is no "getting caught" -- it is perfectly legit. The AA Advantage Desk handled the transaction over the phone. I don't get your responses. This was a distant friend who asked for a favor. He has no miles and the only way he could compensate me would be through $$$. My question is about what is a fair price to sell miles. Is 2 cents reasonable? Remember, he did not have to pay the expedited fee.
     
  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This is forbidden by program rules and you should not do it. Period. If caught, the penalties could include paying the fare difference, having some or all of your miles confiscated, and being banned from having a FF account on that airline. While it might not be worthwhile for an airline to go after a few small transactions, they always could decide to make an example of someone.

    What happens if the friend has a bad experience on the flight and complains, stating in passing that he wished he had never paid $150 for the miles to upgrade? What happens if he misses the flight or is otherwise kicked back to coach and similarly complains? Just something to consider.
     
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  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    You are allowed to use your miles to upgrade anyone you wish but you are not allowed to barter, buy, or sell miles. I'm sure you didn't tell the AA desk that you were getting money from the friend for the miles (as opposed to him paying the transaction fees, either to AA or to reimburse you for what you paid AA to do the upgrade).
     
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  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I
    I think there's just a disconnect somewhere here because of your original post. I think your point is that you called AA and upgraded your friend's reservation for 15k miles and $75.

    Point is that if you're gifting the miles via AA's own program, they charge you $375 for that many miles, or $150 to buy them for yourself. But as long as AA doesn't care -- or doesn't know -- that you're receiving money in exchange for upgrading your friend, then there's probably no harm done.

    I still wouldn't charge them though... chances are you won't do much with $150 (perhaps buy the miles back? :) ) and you never know when you might need to call in a favor. :)
     
  8. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    Fair enough. AA handled the transaction and didn't ask me what I was getting for the miles. They assumed it was a gift.

    I was just trying to figure out a baseline of what miles are worth vis a vis to an acquaintenance, family member, etc, as well as what evips are worth. Didn't mean to ruffle any feathers.
     
  9. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    OP, You may want to edit your post. You gave enough information for AA to figure out who your friend is (routing, mileage usage) and stated online that you violated AA's TOS. Airlines do monitor internet postings closely, and they have been known to shut down accounts and confiscate points for violations.
     
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  10. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    I edited the post although I wonder how AA would find out who I am unless the site owners decided to reveal that information.
     
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  11. Tenmoc
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    Tenmoc Gold Member

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    Think of it. You still have the general route, the seat number and the amount of miles used to upgrade. There can't be too many people a year upgrading those situations.

    As for finding who you are? No need to think MP would give that up. Once they limit it to who upgraded that route that seat for that price, they have the account number the miles upgrade came from. ie, YOURS.

    NOT a smart move to sell the upgrade.
     
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  12. lin821
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    lin821 Gold Member

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    Yes, for OP's own protection, please definitely edit out the seat assignment.

    FWIW, selling miles to friends, distant or close, is in violation of every FFP's TOS.
     
  13. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    As Tenmoc explained, the airline wouldn't have to bother contacting the site owner. (airlines do work very closely with ebay to "out" people selling miles, status, and the like; the owner of this site likely would require they get a warrant). But that wouldn't be necessary- you gave enough info that they could locate it in their system very easily- route, seat number, date, etc.
     
  14. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Randy has told many a program to go pound sand, even in the presence of nastygrams from lawyers (he once got a nastygram about me from a travel provider who shall remain nameless, which is how I know :) ).

    But indeed, selling miles is against the rules and there are people whose job it is to find out this stuff.

    If you were looking at, "how expensive a dinner should I buy a friend who upgraded me on a transcon?" that would be something different, though it depends on the context of the friendship of course.
     
  15. Force
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    Force Active Member

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    I applaud you for being generous and helpful towards a friend. A gift goes a long way. Miles and points are to bring enjoyment, happiness and friendship to one's life - they are not for sale. I once gifted a RTW ticket to as a graduation gift to a friend's daughter. She has since been traveling all over the world. The gift changed her life forever.
     
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  16. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    thanks for the advice and heads up. I obviously was not aware of the rules of this game and am glad that I am now informed. My friend arrived in perfect condition and told me how thankful he was for the upgrade. He promised me a great dinner on him next time I see him as a gesture of good will.
     
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  17. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    It would be pretty hard to prove that you had a commercial motive. I have had numerous occasions over the years where a friend or relative has asked for help. "Hey, Aunt Punki, if I redo your front porch, tend bar at your party, come home for Christmas, or love you forever and ever, can I have a ticket from XYZ to ZYX"?

    Or sometimes just something as simple, as "Hey, can you give me an AS award to Mexico? If you do, I will give you a UA trip to wherever." If you trust the person, go for it. It really isn't anyone else's business but your own, IMHO.
     
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  18. Original Member
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    While everything you've said is true, and I've been in similar situations, having a degree of discretion when exchanging miles for anything other than goodwill is something to take seriously. I've had close relatives whom I've given tickets to get questioned by check-in agents about how they got the tickets if their last names were different than mine. I'd hate for someone to get my FF account suspended over a transaction gone bad.
     
  19. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Seriously? I had never had any of my gifts questioned and at least half of them (my side of the family and most of my employees) have different last names. I can't believe that a gate agent would raise a question--it is frankly none of their business.
     
  20. Original Member
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    Yeah, unfortunately I am. It's was with a check-in agent... my uncle who has a different last name was flying to SAN from RAP and the agent asked him who got him the tickets and how he knew me, followed by a question asking if he had given me anything in exchange.

    I use miles on non-immediate family members about once every handful of years, so I don't think I was targeted for fraud prevention for any particular reason other than I was living in TPA at the time and the ticket had absolutely no relation to me other than me purchasing it. It could also be that the check-in agent was just probing around because it's a small airport and they're being nosy. Whatever the case may be, I was glad that there was nothing in the story that wasn't factual.
     
  21. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Regardless of wether it's against program rules or not, it does happen and it would be fair to answer the OP's question. Selling them on the open market seems distasteful to me and is probably the real point of the FF plan rules, but I don't really have an issue and think they would be slow to respond if I redeem them for a family member and then they buy me a future ticket to make up for it. I think the OP's request for a nice dinner is fine. The miles and dinner are gifts between friends.

    My parents have offerred me the equivalent of 2 cpm for my miles since I have oodles and they care more about flying in business or first than I do. I think 1 cpm is a little low, but it is a good starting point since you can find tons of redemption options through the airlines for that amount.
     
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  22. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Personally, I would not do that for a friend unless I had a decent amount of miles on hand preferably around 200K. Until I have my own awesome award redemption, I will not share my miles with any friends.
     
  23. Naptimes
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    Naptimes Silver Member

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    My wife and I gave miles to a neighbor for a ticket so she could visit a sick family member. I remember thinking, at the time, that she needed to be with her family more than I was going to want to be anywhere else. Without the miles, she wasn't going to be able to go.

    It was great moment in our two families' relationship. Can't really figure out a baseline on what that's worth -- way more than the miles, for sure.
     
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  24. techguru
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    techguru Silver Member

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    Not ruffling feathers I think you are mistaking people trying to prevent you from losing your account, and forfeiting miles for irritation. Buying / selling miles = lifetime and forfeiture of points / miles. Gifts are perfectly fine.

     
  25. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Just to chime in as others have, I'd also caution against selling your miles. MP is fairly new and doesn't have the thread history to document it, but if you did a quick search on the internet you'd find quite a wealth of information on people who were caught exchanging their miles for money and the various consequences that followed. While you may think it isn't anyone's business what you do with your miles, you've agreed to abide by the rules of each FF program when you join, and they clearly outline what you can and cannot do with the miles. Protect yourself and protect your miles, it would be awful to lose such an investment. Seller beware! ;)

    On the other hand, I've only used miles for myself to date. In November I'll be sending a very dear friend to Japan with my miles. She's a very selfless and giving person who has canceled every trip we've planned together (Paris, South Africa, and Argentina) because something came up that she felt was more worthy (a family's house burned down, a friend lost a job, a family member with massive medical bills, etc). So after 3 years of trying I decided that the value of the 50K miles it would take to give her the trip of a lifetime was worth the smiles and small amount of karma it would bring me.

    We're looking forward to our trip and possibly doing some volunteer work while there. :)
     
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