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Travel Tip: Rules for Frequent Flyer Programs Continue to Change

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plane2As the airlines continue to change the parameters of their frequent flyer programs—none of which benefit you—you can still play the mileage game if you know all the rules.

For starters, becoming a member of these programs constitutes a contract of adhesion. Talk about one-sided.

The airline can change the rules or the mileage levels any time it wants. So much for a contract.

What’s worse is that you don’t actually own the miles you think you earned. The airline owns those miles.

What does that mean?

If the airline thinks you’ve done something it doesn’t like—such as selling miles to a friend or buying a cheaper round-trip ticket and then throwing the second half away—they can seize those miles.

Then, even when you score a so-called free ticket, that won’t include taxes. It’s usually based on the retail value of that ticket.

Did I mention fuel surcharges (even when fuel prices are way down)?

What does all this mean?

Use your miles for the longest, most expensive routes as soon as you can. Don’t hoard them.

They will only decrease in value as the airlines do what they do best—change the rules again.

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