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How are Airline Miles Rewards Like a Gallon of Milk? They Expire

Airline MilesThe days of “…and your miles never expire” are over for some airline carriers (although that isn’t exactly the gospel truth for any carrier). Delta Airlines and US Airways will both soon impose stricter expiration dates for miles previously earned on “inactive” accounts. The real SOB is that the expirations will be retroactive, so if your account isn’t up to date you better get to work.

*As of December 31, 2006, Delta SkyMiles members whose accounts have been inactive for more than two years will have to forfeit their accumulated miles. That really sucks if you fly a particular airline infrequently but still like to collect your miles.

*As of January 31, 2007, US Airways Mileage Plus members will have 18 months to earn, use or lose miles.

What’s the loophole? If you don’t want to lose you miles, you can use one of the airline’s retail partners by linking through the airline’s website to make a purchase. Most airlines have loads of retail partners, including places to buy flowers, restaurants, coffee retailers, book stores and clothing. Once you earn the miles for the purchase, you’re golden. At least for another 18 months to 2 years (depending on your program). Be sure to make that purchase well in advance of your mileage expiration date, as it can take up to 2 months for retail partners to post miles to an account.

How are those miles hurting anyone by innocently sitting in their respective accounts? The airlines seem to think they benefit by the expirations. I guess the presumption is that then the person will have to buy the ticket. Good thinking, unless the person finds a better deal with a different airline.

Via NYT Travel.