Friday, June 20, 2008

"Accidental" Traveling Lapses

I recently accidentally let 39,526 United Airlines Mileage Plus (or minus, and in this case ALL minus) "award" travel miles expire. I noticed this two days after they expired.

At first I was ticked off, mostly at myself. I should have seen this coming and at least purchased something through their program, just to keep those miles "live" and/or use them up. Of course I also wasn't too happy with UA because, well, I'm used to being unhappy with them, which is why I've been avoiding them--for a long enough period to let my miles expire.

(BTW, did you know if you don't fly for a quarter, they can choose to stop sending you any notifications, statements or updates? If you use that last click, don't miss #9. Pretty handy the way they can help you forget your "almost expired" status, should they so choose.)

However, even though I hate to admit this, sometimes (okay, many times) I'm more dumb-cluck than the airlines. I actually wasted valuable work time pouring through the website to see if there might be a way to reinstate the two-day-old lost miles. Perhaps they were still floating in the traveling waters near my pier and I could simply net them. (Can you tell I'm daydreaming about fishing?) The "opportunity" was buried, but YES! it existed. Imagine my fingers excitedly clicking away toward what I imagined would be a simple "REINSTATE" button.

But alas, nothing is that simple--or cheap. Turns out I could recapture them for a mere 1.25 cents/mile plus a $25 service fee, which would cost me $544.08. (I'm sure they'll round that extra penny UP.) To buy back miles I'd already earned but which had poofed into thin air because UA said so, and I was zoned. And don't forget the EXTRA $25 they would charge me to use those miles to actually fly. I won't.

As in my last post, once again this torment turned out to be the good news. While I was holding those miles, obviously subliminally and "accidentally" backpedalling away from a tortured "opportunity" to accrue 10,474 more so my husband and I could enjoy a "free" vacation flight, United raised the coach miles per trip from 25,000 to 50,000. (Man, I am living in a CAVE! Even AA, for whom I have lost all allegiance, only requires 25,000 for a standard flight, at least as of this second.) Plus, that monkey of a 39,526 disappeared off my back. Expired. Poof. Gone. Not even buying them back for a total $544.08 will get me anywhere. So now I don't have to force myself toward those friendly skies for anything. THANK YOU, UNITED!

Perhaps you should review all your "award" programs, just to make sure you're not missing any opportunities to miss opportunities. Afterwards, please share your "good fortune" stories under comments. Now that I don't have to spend time fretting about any of my mileage programs (since I no longer give a rip about any of them), I might find more time to go fishing.


Little Gittlel said...

Had that same experience with Hilton when I stayed at one of their properties last week and they couldn’t find my number in the system… I called HQ….they had“deactivated” me (nice robotic touch!) since I didn’t stay there within the past year. Oh, and took away all my points! I thought they were going to add “And you’ve been a bad girl!” Really makes want to stay there…not.
Charlene's column made me realize we have to check hotel award programs too. Sigh. Another thing to add to the gi-normous To Do list...

Finprof said...

United, in theory, still offers a domestic award at 25,000. It's just no longer their "standard". Now it is called "saver" and is full of restrictions and fees.

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...


Thank you for the correction! I just visited the United site to see where you found that info, and you are exactly right. It didn't occur to me when I was clicking away that there was something lesser than "standard."

I hear ya with the restrictions and fees. The last time I tried to use some AA miles, it was either 6 AM or nothing.

Again, thanks for setting me straight. I'll make sure I post a correction!

BradH said...

I'm a weekly business flyer. Here's a trick I use to retain my United miles since I stopped flying them 3 years ago. I got sick of O'Hare and all things United, but had a lot of miles accrued.

So when I rent a car, I use my UA Mileage Plus number as the "partner" number. This little bit of activity on the Mileage Plus account is enough to keep them from Expiring me.

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Great idea. Thanks for passing it along. It's frustrating to have to think of ways to protect what was once given to us, but at least we're helping each other out!

If anyone else has ideas, please chime in.