0 min left

Two United Flyers Recovered 322,000 Expired Miles FOR FREE

Flyers reach out to New York investigative reporter in order to have MileagePlus miles reinstated to their accounts.

A New Jersey couple can once again resume planning a 75th birthday trip with United Airlines MileagePlus miles, thanks to a New York television station. With help from New York’s PIX11, Joe and Marilyn Woerner had over 300,000 expired MileagePlus miles restored to their accounts.

The Woerners reportedly began planning their trip to France with the understanding that their combined MileagePlus accounts held over 300,000 miles. However, when they logged into their accounts, they discovered their miles had expired due to inactivity.

Under United’s frequent flyer policy, MileagePlus miles expire at 18 months if a flyer does not complete a qualifying activity, such as making a purchase with a United MileagePlus co-branded credit card. While the airline says flyers are given a warning before miles expire, the Woerners claim they never received any notice.

When Joe contacted United by email, a customer service agent for the carrier suggested a program where Joe could buy back the balance of his miles. He found this method to be unacceptable.

“So we would have to pay money, over $500, to buy back the points we had already earned,” Joe told PIX11. “Which to me was just ridiculous.”

Running out of options, the Woerners turned to PIX11 for help. After contacting the television station, Joe reached out to United once again, explaining that he was hospitalized and was unable to travel during the 18-month period. When he attached a note from his doctor verifying his claims, United agreed to reinstate his 270,000 miles.

However, PIX11 reports the station had to contact the airline in regards to reinstating Marilyn’s points and only then were her 52,000 miles refunded.

While the Woerners agree they learned a valuable lesson about points and miles, their message is clear: airlines should stop expiring miles.

“It just seems to me once you earn  them, you ought to be able to keep them,” says Joe.

[Photo: United Airlines]

Comments are Closed.
Ponta October 18, 2015

I lost 15000 miles recently. I think I'll go media, or put some negative comments on tripadvisor. Pathetic.

Leemanth October 17, 2015

I just read this on a news site which linked here. While I agree with the comments about how people should understand the terms and conditions of the program, I was also a bit gobsmacked when I got to the part which said that after one email they'd run out of option and had to go to the TV station. No. That customer service agent is probably not allowed to give you your miles just because you asked/got angry. Don't go running off to the media. Look at the airline's corporate website, find the email address for the executive in charge of customer relations and politely explain the situation to them. POLITELY. It is very likely they will ask someone further down the chain (with the authority to give back miles) to help you out.

m44 October 17, 2015

I am terrified how stupidly inane is majority of the foregoing comments. The money I paid for the tickets cannot be expired, the benefits for buying them should not either and in fact they did not expire when I earned them. The commenters forgot that for great many years one of the airlines, whose name expires tomorrow had a slogan "Our miles never expire" - guess what. I wish I could take back the money I paid for the flights with them under that slogan. Or you forgot that at least one court ordered the airline to keep a separate accounting of non-expiring miles from new expiring miles - those miles had been expired as the airline went bankrupt. I lost great many miles, but that airline is the largest in the world today - on my buck and back. Congrats to all nincompoops.

pinniped October 16, 2015

Totally agree that it benefits us (FT'ers) that programs expire miles. We know the drill: these are unregulated, nebulous Ponzi schemes that benefit us, the knowledgeable users, a lot more than they benefit the novices. A regulated scheme where travelers owned the miles and could buy and sell them on an open market would ultimately kill the value of the miles entirely. However, now that the outright SELLING of miles, either directly or via credit-card-issuing banks has become almost a bigger business than flying airplanes, I can see why the novices (and news stations looking for a consumer-protection story) don't see the world the same way we do. The airlines enjoy the illusion that the traveler owns the miles when it suits their interest...most people would never buy them if they didn't believe they were receiving an asset in return.

scubaccr October 16, 2015

You are lucky in that with these USA airline loyalty programs you can hoard miles for many many years if so inclined until you either have enough for a flight or to splurge on a RTW ticket With eg SingaporeAir even if you fly every year the miles earned expire 36months after they were earned Assuming one is gold to get bonuses you need 3x economy trips Europe-Singapore-(Bangkok, Manila etc continuation) to have enough miles to redeem for a ticket ..as you can't use locall flights if not Asian based I lost thousands through expiry over the years apart from a few years when I flew Europe Singapore multiple times per year