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Old Apr 7, 10, 4:52 pm   #1
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Reassigning affinity points/miles after death

Here's a tricky question...

If one were to croak, what would be the best way for one's family members to use the points and/or miles in one's account?

My understanding is that in most programs, you take the points/miles to the grave and that there is no program option that allows others to posthumously operate the affinity accounts of the deceased.

However, if one's uncle Abbas or Uncle Guevara passed away and in their wills stated that I could use all their affinity points and miles from every program they participated in, clearly I could access some of their accounts online and make airline bookings in my name on virtually every airlines program without a problem. However, for hotels and car rentals it would be a bit more complicated as reservations in other people's names often require paper certificates/instruments, and often require a phone call by the account holder to set these up. Perhaps we could start a list of what it takes to make a booking in someone else's name for each of the most common affinity programs?

So, I'm not particularly interested in hearing the ethical dilemmas posed by the above scenario, unless you have never driven more than one mile over the speed limit and never paid a single bill more than a day late in your life. My position in respect to affinity programs is essentially that of Karl Marx. i.e., that all property is theft anyway, and for the purposes of this thread, the goal is to relieve the issuing corporate entity of the affinity points earned by the individual who has bequeathed said points to you in a will, even if the corporation issuing these points does not recognize the will. OTOH, maybe some companies do recognize such posthumous use of points, in which case it would be good to know about them.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 5:09 pm   #2
  
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The short answer is that it will depend on each program's T&Cs.

Alaska Airlines (and I'm sure others) T&Cs say: "Awards or accrued Miles, including purchased Miles, do not constitute the property of the member to whose Mileage Plan account the miles have been posted". If miles are not "property" then they cannot be passed by a will. Thus after death no one has a right to use them.

If they catch you using someone else's miles in violation of the T&Cs, they might void your tickets/reservation and the remainder of the miles left in the account.

If an airline allows transfers, they might let you pay the appropriate fee to transfer the departed's miles to your own account so you could use them.

If not, I bet even the most cold-hearted airline would let you donate the miles to charity if you ask nicely.
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Old Apr 7, 10, 10:07 pm   #3
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Originally Posted by falconred View Post
The short answer is that it will depend on each program's T&Cs.

Alaska Airlines (and I'm sure others) T&Cs say: "Awards or accrued Miles, including purchased Miles, do not constitute the property of the member to whose Mileage Plan account the miles have been posted". If miles are not "property" then they cannot be passed by a will. Thus after death no one has a right to use them.

If they catch you using someone else's miles in violation of the T&Cs, they might void your tickets/reservation and the remainder of the miles left in the account.

If an airline allows transfers, they might let you pay the appropriate fee to transfer the departed's miles to your own account so you could use them.

If not, I bet even the most cold-hearted airline would let you donate the miles to charity if you ask nicely.
My feeling is that anything that devalues the earnings of the deceased needs to be resisted.
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Old Apr 8, 10, 5:36 pm   #4
  
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Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
My understanding is that in most programs, you take the points/miles to the grave and that there is no program option that allows others to posthumously operate the affinity accounts of the deceased.
I know there are many threads on this - I don't have time to search right now - but IIRC many programs will allow the points of deceased spouse to be transferred to your account. I'm not sure if this extends to siblings, offspring, etc.

If I had a relative who passed and would have been cool with me doing so (and no other family members entitled cared), I'd probably go the route of just logging in and redeeming as if they were still alive. The odds of being caught would be slim. For any large accounts, I'd consider converting the affinity points to gift cards or similar items that would enable the asset to be secured apart from their name. For hotel points or other redemptions that might pose a problem using without the person alive, I'd consider converting the points to airline miles via various methods, or again, gift cards and the like.
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Old Apr 8, 10, 5:52 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
Here's a tricky question...

If one were to croak, what would be the best way for one's family members to use the points and/or miles in one's account?
AA: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

BA: deceased's account number + pin and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

BD: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

DL: deceased's account number + pin and make booking online or telephone over the phone using your own charge card

UA: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or telephone over the phone using your own charge card

Hilton: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

Hyatt: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

ICHG: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

Starwood: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

In all cases, facilitated if changing an address first.

I've created a master list of accounts/account access info so that the dear to me can use the miles/points I've acquired as deemed appropriate for the circumstances applicable in the event of the inevitable.
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Old Apr 8, 10, 6:29 pm   #6
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
AA: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

BA: deceased's account number + pin and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

BD: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

DL: deceased's account number + pin and make booking online or telephone over the phone using your own charge card

UA: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or telephone over the phone using your own charge card

Hilton: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

Hyatt: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

ICHG: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

Starwood: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

In all cases, facilitated if changing an address first.

I've created a master list of accounts/account access info so that the dear to me can use the miles/points I've acquired as deemed appropriate for the circumstances applicable in the event of the inevitable.
A disturbingly comprehensive list.

Now all I have to do is sit and wait.

Last edited by PhlyingRPh; Apr 8, 10 at 6:37 pm
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Old Apr 8, 10, 7:47 pm   #7
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Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
A disturbingly comprehensive list.

Now all I have to do is sit and wait.
With regard to some of the hotels, the way to do it online is to add the name of the living guest as a secondary guest and/or note it in the comment field. If that doesn't fly, doing it over the phone works.
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Old Apr 9, 10, 8:31 am   #8
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
AA: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

BA: deceased's account number + pin and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

BD: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or over the phone using your own charge card

DL: deceased's account number + pin and make booking online or telephone over the phone using your own charge card

UA: deceased's account number + password and make booking online or telephone over the phone using your own charge card

Hilton: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

Hyatt: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

ICHG: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

Starwood: deceased's account access details and make booking in name of intended guest online and/or over phone

In all cases, facilitated if changing an address first.

I've created a master list of accounts/account access info so that the dear to me can use the miles/points I've acquired as deemed appropriate for the circumstances applicable in the event of the inevitable.
Three thoughts:

1) Wow! Very nice list. Frightening level of planning, but still very nice.
2) I wonder how it would go over if asked, "how much did you pay for this flight" and you responded, "my dead grandmother used her miles for me".
3) Knowing your love for Delta, wouldn't you consider your intended donation of DL miles more like torturing a relative from the grave rather than being kind to them?
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Old Apr 9, 10, 9:46 am   #9
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Originally Posted by mooper View Post
2) I wonder how it would go over if asked, "how much did you pay for this flight" and you responded, "my dead grandmother used her miles for me".
"The ticket was paid for using miles from the account of my dear _____ [relation]."

Quote:
Originally Posted by mooper
3) Knowing your love for Delta, wouldn't you consider your intended donation of DL miles more like torturing a relative from the grave rather than being kind to them?
You left out the word SkyMiles after "Delta", but the answer remains this: no, as there would be no intended donation of DL miles. Rather those whom are likely to have put thought into this aspect of their own such accounts and kept me in mind too have already been informed about DL and the exit strategies relevant to the situation with SkyMiles.
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Old Apr 9, 10, 10:44 am   #10
  
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convert to gift cards

I'm a fan of converting to gift cards if companies other than the airline that held the miles. Once done, they're property, thus making the restrictive T&C much harder to apply/enforce. I realize that the value of the cards is often less than the miles, but not if the airline confiscates them.

A clear statement in a will as to who gets them would help with probate (and inter-family relations).

Steve

PS I am a lawyer, but all I know about Estates and Trusts comes from law school 30 years ago.
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Old Apr 9, 10, 10:53 am   #11
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Originally Posted by mooper View Post
Three thoughts:

1) Wow! Very nice list. Frightening level of planning, but still very nice.
2) I wonder how it would go over if asked, "how much did you pay for this flight" and you responded, "my dead grandmother used her miles for me".
3) Knowing your love for Delta, wouldn't you consider your intended donation of DL miles more like torturing a relative from the grave rather than being kind to them?
if challenged, I'd have to say something like "It's how she would have wanted it".

Last edited by PhlyingRPh; Apr 9, 10 at 11:24 am Reason: contextual gaffe
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Old Apr 9, 10, 11:16 am   #12
  
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[QUOTE=GUWonder;13740110]"The ticket was paid for using miles from the account of my dear _____ [relation]."

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh View Post
It's how she would have wanted it.
I was just trying to make a joke... I have no issues with the concept and would do the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Rather those whom are likely to have put thought into this aspect of their own such accounts and kept me in mind too have already been informed about DL and the exit strategies relevant to the situation with SkyMiles.
No one will ever accuse you of not staying true to form!
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Old Apr 9, 10, 11:25 am   #13
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[QUOTE=mooper;13740631]
Quote:
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
"The ticket was paid for using miles from the account of my dear _____ [relation]."



I was just trying to make a joke... I have no issues with the concept and would do the same.
I know - I've edited my response for clarity.
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Old Apr 9, 10, 1:14 pm   #14
  
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With Alaska Airlines, you can ask for miles to be transferred to your account.

I had to know my Mom's account number, DOB, address, etc, then I had to send a copy of my Mom's death certificate to the address they gave me. A copy is fine; didn't need the original

They transfer the miles in units of 1,000.

They showed up in my account as:

SPECIAL SERVICES
MEMORIAL POINTS

Thanks, Mom!
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Old Apr 9, 10, 1:20 pm   #15
  
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By the way, I should have mentioned that, at least with Alaska Airlines, it is much better to transfer the miles as MEMORIAL miles -- there is no cost. It's much better that using the transfer miles feature at alaskaair.com -- that costs $$.

In fact, it is better to transfer memorial miles to your own account rather than use the deceased's account to get a ticket. Go ahead and transfer all the miles.

This is a really good deal as it is the only way I know of getting a bunch of miles from another account for FREE.

Not that I'm encouraging manslaughter!
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