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Latest thinking on using American Express Membership Rewards for AF tickets?

Latest thinking on using American Express Membership Rewards for AF tickets?

Old Jul 12, 20, 1:29 pm
  #1  
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Latest thinking on using American Express Membership Rewards for AF tickets?

[Many apologies if this has been covered. I regretfully have not been able to participate for a long time. I cannot find anything that addresses my concerns using Search.]

There was a thread here more that a year ago, Air France/FB says my 317,000+ MR transfer is FRAUD! Help! in which FT member wflanagan told of his horrible experience when he tried to transfer more than 300,000 American Express Membership Rewards points and attempted to buy Air France tickets for himself and his family. He was never able to do it since this transaction somehow triggered a "fraud alert" on his account. I believe that in the end he was able to recoup his points and return them to American Express.

When I was in Paris last August, I signed up for Flying Blue. I recently confirmed with Air France via email through a web form that my account is still valid.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, I am not taking any international trips at the moment but when things hopefully clear up, I would like to try to use my MR points for AF tickets for me and my wife. My questions:

1. Is this still possible?

2. What is the best way to avoid the problems of the previous poster? I was thinking that I would make periodic purchases on the AF or Flying Blue partner online shopping sites so as to earn miles? Would this work or is it a waste of money?

Thanks for your thoughts. Mods, if this belongs somewhere else, please move it there.
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Old Jul 12, 20, 1:52 pm
  #2  
 
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The single best way is to fly and credit to Flying Blue. Ideally an AF flight but Delta may work too. That should show the system that you are actually using the account for ...well, collecting miles from flying.

Nothing is guaranteed though. The younger the account, and the fewer number of flights credited to it, the higher the chances of an extra check when buying award tickets..
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Old Jul 12, 20, 3:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Xandrios View Post
The single best way is to fly and credit to Flying Blue. Ideally an AF flight but Delta may work too. That should show the system that you are actually using the account for ...well, collecting miles from flying.

Nothing is guaranteed though. The younger the account, and the fewer number of flights credited to it, the higher the chances of an extra check when buying award tickets..

Unfortunately, I don't see myself flying any carrier soon.

Do you know for a fact that AF/Flying Blue is still doing the same nonsense as they did in the previous thread?

Last edited by Landing Gear; Jul 18, 20 at 2:17 pm Reason: typo
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Old Jul 12, 20, 11:29 pm
  #4  
 
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I would not call it nonsense.

It makes sense to many (most?) people that someone who signs up to a Frequent Flyer Programme (bolding is mine) but never flies is subjected to some form of checks when he suddenly transfers zillions of points generated by non-flying activity to get a "reward" ticket.

This is particularly relevant if the ticket is for someone else.
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Old Jul 13, 20, 10:52 am
  #5  
 
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For what itís worth I have had a flying blue account for several months having never credited a flight to FB before. I transferred ~140k points from both Amex and chase and booked two business class (operated by delta) tickets for myself and my wife with no problem, the ticket are ticketed and confirmed, I have a PNR for DL and can change seats and everything.

i canít speak to if these are replicable results or if higher transfer amounts trip anything but my experience went fine.
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Old Jul 13, 20, 11:06 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by perkerkeem View Post
For what itís worth I have had a flying blue account for several months having never credited a flight to FB before. I transferred ~140k points from both Amex and chase and booked two business class (operated by delta) tickets for myself and my wife with no problem, the ticket are ticketed and confirmed, I have a PNR for DL and can change seats and everything.

i canít speak to if these are replicable results or if higher transfer amounts trip anything but my experience went fine.
Thank you so much. This is encouraging to hear. I hope you have a safe trip.
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Old Jul 13, 20, 11:37 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by carnarvon View Post
I would not call it nonsense.

It makes sense to many (most?) people that someone who signs up to a Frequent Flyer Programme (bolding is mine) but never flies is subjected to some form of checks when he suddenly transfers zillions of points generated by non-flying activity to get a "reward" ticket.

This is particularly relevant if the ticket is for someone else.
I will respectfully disagree with every single thing you wrote.

I see you are in France. Whether or not you are French, perhaps you have a different perspective. I know my French relatives generally view things differently from me.

However, here is a more detailed explanation of my view.

You say, "someone who signs up to a Frequent Flyer Programme (bolding is mine) but never flies" is automatically suspect. This flies in the face of reality.

This is no longer 1981 when the first major airline frequent flier program (AAdvantage) was established and you earned miles solely by flying. Airlines allow miles to be earned from many different sources whether or not you have flown a single mile. For example, you could sign up for one of the Citi Bank American Airlines AAdvantage MasterCards and you will earn at least one mile for every dollar spent. This will be credited to your account and as far as I know, there are no problems in redeeming them especially when, as in my case, you want to use the miles for travel for yourself and your spouse with the same last name.

If, hypothetically speaking, you signed up for that credit card, paid your bills, earned the miles and then the airline refused to allow you to redeem them, "nonsense" is not the word I would use. Rather, a few choice terms come to mind starting with "breach of contract." In fact, a consumer regulator like the Attorney General of the State or New York might use a term like "fraud."

And it does not matter how many miles are at stake whether it's 300,000 or more. ("Zillions?" Ha ha.) Also, we are not talking about reasonable checks. In the original thread I linked, the OP was forced to jump through many hoops and no matter what he did, he could not get the Air France tickets. That is a benefit that is at best illusory.

Getting back to the original question, American Express, a US corporation, represents to its customers that they will earn Membership Rewards points by paying their bills and that these "points" can be used for certain benefits like air travel through different airlines which have supposedly arranged to provide these benefits to AMEX customers in return for payments that AMEX makes them because it earns fees from its customers.

So, no, "it makes sense" to no one that you can set up a system where people follow all the published rules and then you say they cannot redeem the "points" for that which they were promised, i.e. airline tickets. "Nonsense" is a very nice word for what, if still going on, is a deceptive business practice. Or, as you guys say, it's louche.
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Old Jul 13, 20, 12:07 pm
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The fraud that they are trying to prevent is miles being stolen and sold for profit. There is a whole mini-economy revolving around selling and buying credit card points (including those sourced from hacked accounts), and those points subsequently being used to buy award tickets for 3rd party clients that pay (almost) retail prices. These transactions are in fact fraud and are typically marked by having a new (unused) account having a sudden influx of miles from credit-card programs. That's why airlines are so strict when this kind of activity is seen.

Lets be clear; you transferring your own miles into FB and using those to buy an award tickets is perfectly within the rules and allowed. But it may require a 'check' to verify that the above scenario is not happening. That's what we are talking about here. If your account or transaction were to be flagged you can still resolve that by following their instructions. Granted, its a hassle and they make you go through hoops - but it should be possible.

I believe that what carnarvon may also be referring to is a related topic. Many frequent fliers feel that it is unfair that 'outsiders with credit card points' come in to 'steal' their availability, especially when we are talking about hard to find/redeem award seats. Think business class or LaPremiere on popular routes. That's not against the rules, its just something that the people traveling on AFKL often don't like as they feel that 'their' availability is being used up by outsiders who don't take part in the programme otherwise.

Last edited by Xandrios; Jul 13, 20 at 12:13 pm
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Old Jul 15, 20, 8:05 pm
  #9  
 
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I have a FB account that had zero miles in it, although I think I may have credited a domestic Delta flight to it once a few years ago. In January of this year I transferred over 200K MR points and booked 4 biz award tix on AF for this summer. No issues whatsoever and the FB agent let me put the award on hold for a few days so I could transfer the points. Unfortunately had to cancel the trip due to COVID, so now I have over 200K FB miles I'll need to burn before they expire
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Old Jul 18, 20, 2:38 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Xandrios View Post
The fraud that they are trying to prevent is miles being stolen and sold for profit. There is a whole mini-economy revolving around selling and buying credit card points (including those sourced from hacked accounts), and those points subsequently being used to buy award tickets for 3rd party clients that pay (almost) retail prices. These transactions are in fact fraud and are typically marked by having a new (unused) account having a sudden influx of miles from credit-card programs. That's why airlines are so strict when this kind of activity is seen.
That's not me. I do not engage in such activities. (Yes, I know you did not accuse me.) If their "anti-fraud" program is so hypersensitive that it flags someone trying to redeem miles for tickets for himself and someone else with the same last name living at the same address, then they need to fix that algorithm. Otherwise, get rid of the program since in some cases you do not seem to want to honor it.


Originally Posted by Xandrios View Post
Lets be clear; you transferring your own miles into FB and using those to buy an award tickets is perfectly within the rules and allowed. But it may require a 'check' to verify that the above scenario is not happening. That's what we are talking about here. If your account or transaction were to be flagged you can still resolve that by following their instructions. Granted, its a hassle and they make you go through hoops - but it should be possible.
That check should not be unreasonable, e.g. multiple trips to the airport in person. If it takes a day off from work to redeem an "award," it's no so much of an award. As someone else pointed out elsewhere, what if you are in Phoenix and redeem the award and they tell you you have been "flagged" so go to the nearest AF ticket counter for a "check." But the nearest AF ticket counter is in Los Angeles! I call that unreasonable. And it could be argued that if AF allows no other method of resolving this matter that they have no intentions of resolving it at all. Who wants to not only take a day or more off from work but have to buy a roundtrip ticket on another airline to comply with some anonymous agent's demands for a "check" especially with no guarantee of success?

Originally Posted by Xandrios View Post
I believe that what carnarvon may also be referring to is a related topic. Many frequent fliers feel that it is unfair that 'outsiders with credit card points' come in to 'steal' their availability, especially when we are talking about hard to find/redeem award seats. Think business class or LaPremiere on popular routes. That's not against the rules, its just something that the people traveling on AFKL often don't like as they feel that 'their' availability is being used up by outsiders who don't take part in the programme otherwise.
Carnarvon is free to explain anytime. There are lots of things that a lot of us don't like about various frequent flier programs. Yes, I see where you may not like your preferred carrier entering into agreements that sell miles. None of that, however, affects the validity of my arguments.

I started this thread because I wanted accurate information on whether or not Air France/Flying Blue is living up to the promises made through American Express for the redemption of Membership Rewards points.

Last edited by Landing Gear; Jul 18, 20 at 2:39 pm Reason: coding fixed
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