Transfering Frequent Flyer Miles After Death
- To transfer a loved one’s frequent flyer miles after their passing as a part of their estate plan.
While experienced travelers might know about the benefits of frequent flyer miles, astonishingly few have considered what happens to those miles when they die. Depending on the airline, you might be able to pass on your miles to friends or family like any other possession. Still, if you’ve spent years building up miles or other airline reward points, then it’s important to consider them during the estate planning process. Otherwise, they will likely go to waste.
However, there is one workaround that you can use regardless of the airline, and it’s easier than any method listed below. The best way to make sure that your frequent flyer miles don’t disappear is to give a trusted love one your username and password. This way, they can access your account should anything happen to you.
Like many of its competitors, American Airlines’ terms and conditions clearly state that frequent flyer miles and other credits are not the “property of the member.” However, they do make the occasional exception for wills and divorce decrees. In order to transfer American Airline miles, you’ll first need to contact AAdvantage, who will then send an email requesting a copy of the death certificate and an affidavit. This affidavit needs to include the deceased’s account number as well as the account information for whoever is receiving the miles. This transfer can be made to more than one account, so you don’t need to decide on one person to receive everything.
Just like American Airlines, Delta Airlines SkyMiles are not the property of the account holder. However, unlike American, Delta is far less flexible with their rules. Delta SkyMiles cannot “be sold, attached, seized, levied upon, pledged, or transferred under any circumstances, including, without limitation…upon death.” They only make exceptions for court orders, which more often than not are going to be more expensive to obtain than to be worth the effort. It’s also worth noting that Delta accounts are closed upon the Member’s death, with the miles forfeited.
Good news for fans of Frontier Airlines! The Frontier Miles Program actually has a couple of different ways that its members can transfer their acquired miles. Your first option with Frontier is to use their Family Pooling program. This lets friends and family members link their accounts so that they can redeem miles together. They can also automatically transfer any remaining miles to the surviving members in case of death.
Your other option is to provide Frontier Airlines with a death certificate or a letter from the estate’s executor. If the miles are to be divided across several heirs or executors, then they will be allotted by court order. Beneficiaries who do not have accounts with Frontier Airlines can either enroll and receive their designated miles, or they can send written permission to waive their rights to those miles. If written permission is sent, the forfeited miles will then be split among the remaining heirs.
JetBlue’s TrueBlue membership also gives its customers the ability to pool their points. This allows anyone in the pool to easily transfer another member’s miles in case of death. Unfortunately, unlike Frontier, JetBlue does not have any way to transfer miles outside of their Points Pooling program. Death is no exception.
Southwest Airlines, like Delta, deactivates the rapid rewards accounts of their deceased members. However, they do provide a generous 24-month window before shutting everything down and deleting reward points, which will be helpful if you have access to the deceased’s account information. This window is calculated based on the account’s last earning date unless a friend or relative has asked for it to be closed. If you don’t have the account information, then you’re probably out of luck on this one. Southwest does not allow for points to be “transferred to a Member’s estate or as part of a settlement, inheritance, or will.”
Spirit Airlines is perhaps the least sympathetic company on our list today. Members of their Free Spirit program, ironically enough, are not allowed to transfer their miles under any circumstances, even death. If there are any exceptions, then Spirit is doing a very good job at keeping them under wraps. No such exceptions are known at this time.
Finally, we come to United Airlines, who’s MileagePlus Program strikes a happy medium when it comes to its members’ ability to transfer miles upon death. However, United requires a fee to paid before doing so. You’ll also need to provide them with some documents confirming everything, much like with American or Frontier.
For more help with planning your estate, contact us online or by calling (727) 279-5037.