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How Being Greedy Cost Me Thousands of Miles

How Being Greedy Cost Me Thousands of Miles
Caroline Lupini

Well… the saying goes something like: “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” And I have to confess, I was recently a hog.

I had booked a very good sale fare in Business Class last year from Algiers, Algeria to Honolulu, Hawaii. The outbound flights were on British Airways and American Airlines, and the return (which I actually haven’t taken just yet) is on American Airlines and Iberia. In full-fare business class.

Whenever I book paid airline tickets, I like to earn the most miles when I fly. I always check Where To Credit to find out where I can credit my tickets to and where I’ll earn the most miles.

Since my flights were on British Airways in “J” class, I entered that into Where To Credit’s form.

I was really excited to see that my British Airways flight was going to credit 350% to Alaska Airlines because I really value their miles!

However, I also had two flights on American Airlines, and off the top of my head, I know that domestic American Airlines flights don’t credit to Alaska Airlines anymore. I needed another solution for those flights. The most obvious option was to credit those flights to American Airlines.

Since I was crediting flights to multiple airlines, I decided to wait until after I flew my flights to retroactively request flight credit so that the right flights would credit to the right airlines. At first, it worked out even better than I had hoped!

I was able to request credit for the British Airways flight to Alaska Airlines and I earned 350% of the miles flown. Then I request just the two American Airlines segments to credit to American Airlines, but American Airlines ALSO gave me credit for the British Airways flight!

I thought I hit the jackpot there, having earned double credit for a full-fare business class flight from London to Denver.

Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines audited my account at some point and realized that the flight had also been credited to American Airlines and removed the flight credit from my account. I tried to get the flight removed from American Airlines but Alaska Airlines would still not give me the credit for the flight even when I did that.

So instead of earning 350% miles on that flight (or 16,345 Alaska Airlines miles), I only earned 125% miles (or 5,837 American Airlines miles). To make matters worse, I value Alaska miles quite a bit more highly than American Airlines miles. And to make matters EVEN WORSE, I was counting on those miles to earn Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status, but due to my greediness, I didn’t qualify.

What I should have done when I realized that American Airlines had double credited my miles was to contact them and have them remove the flight. Then when Alaska Airlines audited my account there shouldn’t have been an issue, or at least I would have had a paper trail showing that it had been a genuine mistake (which it was).

This was quite a learning experience.

Have you ever missed out on miles (or anything else) because you were being greedy?

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (16)


  1. csherry

    March 20, 2019 at 5:28 am

    Well I’m not sure being “greedy” is the best way to describe this. Dishonest? If a cashier gives you twice as much change as you’re owed, is keeping it “greedy”? So the question at the end might be “have your ever missed out on miles because you were being dishonest (and you got caught)?”

  2. kkua

    March 20, 2019 at 6:03 am

    Unless the tickets were reissued during an IrrOp, the ticket’s serial number will record the entire itinerary. Hence, when you submit retroactively, everything will be recorded from start to end as a complete set. Knowing this, the airlines can manually credit everything retroactively when the system automatically credits the last segment of the itinerary. I learned this early on when flying NWA to Asia having mileage credited to CO’s OnePass on domestic segments (before their jump to StarAllaince) and to US’s DividendMiles on the international segments.

  3. mot29

    March 20, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Don’t know if it was being greedy, but booked a really cheap KL business fare BUD-CTU. It was really cheap because it booked into O which doesn’t earn on DL. So I earned for BUD-AMS return for a J fare, but no miles for AMS-CTU. (KL miles don’t do me any good.). I know double and triple check booking codes when booking KL/AF flights to credit to DL.

  4. PTK346

    March 20, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Agree with csherry – dishonest is the term that best describes your approach here, not simply greed. As an experienced mileage runner, you know better. No sympathy here.

  5. 98103

    March 20, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Sorry. Can’t muster any sympathy.

  6. crescent2

    March 20, 2019 at 9:27 am

    “”Honesty is the best policy.”

    I have to agree with csherry.

    At what point did the notion of right and wrong vanish from our business dealings?
    We’ve all done wrong, dishonest things to some degree, but not correcting a mistake that gives one something he or she is not entitled to is the same as stealing. That it is from a large corporation doesn’t really change anything.

    This is not to say that legitimately using rules to one’s advantage is in any way wrong, but that’s not what happened here. This was keeping quiet about a known mistake and it was wrong to do so no matter how it’s spun.

  7. Jackie_414

    March 20, 2019 at 9:46 am

    “Juvenile” would be another term to use in this case.

  8. misdirected baggage

    March 20, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Didn’t know BA flew to HNL.

  9. seattlebruce

    March 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    You were not dishonest. If a cashier gives you too much change (and you realize it), it’s dishonest to not return it. But if an airline gives you miles you don’t deserve, and you didn’t ask for them, and it’s under a million miles, I feel you are under no moral obligation to contact them. They’re difficult enough to deal with when you really need to.

  10. generaltao

    March 20, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Umm no it is dishonest. I’m not exactly sure how airlines compensate each other for this points recognition thing but someone was going to get ripped off.

  11. calwatch

    March 20, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    I agree with seattlebruce, but it goes both ways. I am not going to write a blog post on this if the miles end up getting deducted, since I take advantage of them elsewhere. But if you valued Alaska so much and knew that an audit was a risk, then you should have let them know. Ultimately the flight was credited properly, it just didn’t go the way you hoped.

  12. Shareholder

    March 21, 2019 at 4:28 am

    AS started auditing accounts a few months ago when it realized how many people were scamming its laxness to confirm flights were being posted to other programs as well as its own. This became a well known way of double dipping by some less scrupulous FFers who then used their AS miles for those EK F awards (which in turn led to the hiking of the number of AS miles required). AS froze and shut down a number of accounts of those who were the worst offenders.

  13. anabolism


    March 21, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    First, for clarification, you write that you booked “a very good sale fare in Business Class” but you also describe it as “full-fare business class.” You either booked a sale fare or a full fare, it can’t be both.

    Second, the way to credit some flight segments to different frequent flyer programs is to stop at the check-in desk or gate before the flight and ask an agent to change the frequent flyer information for that flight. Then each boarding pass will show the airline that you intend to credit to.

  14. not2017

    March 21, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    No, not greedy! I have lost so many miles from no credits and small amounts expiring, it isn’t funny. Over 37 years, it does add up. I personally feel the airlines have become VERY greedy! Have you tried calling Alaskan again? I would write a letter to customer relations and plead your case. Since when does AA not earn miles with Alaskan? AA is still on Alaskan’s partners list.

  15. leonidas

    March 21, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    To be brutally honest, you ranged somewhere in between being dishonest and a shoplifter. People like you give a bad rap to all of us miles/points collectors. You need to play within the rules like the rest of us, please.

  16. ristasm

    March 27, 2019 at 8:05 am

    same happened to me and now Alaska wants me to send the recipe for those flights which i don’t have and they have blocked my account for redemptions. What should i do? Why can’t they just remove those miles?

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