Do I need to worry about losing my points?
I wouldn’t say you need to worry about it but you do need to have some activity over a year to keep the points in most cases. All airlines differ but a year is the minimum amount of time given. This means that with some airlines, you need to either earn 1 point or use 1 point within a year to keep the account active. It’s also good to know that airlines do go bankrupt from time to time so it’s good to follow the news once in awhile. If you’re beginning to have a lot of points (150K+) in one account, you might want to start thinking of ways to use them.
What if there are no reward seats left when I want to fly?
This can happen. You can either choose another place, a different departure time, or fight it. I have heard that you can usually win if you choose to fight it but it can take some time and perseverance. Go back to the steps I laid out in “Redeeming Miles” and make sure your agent has looked as hard as he can at the many different options. If all options fail, just hang up and try again. You’d be surprised how many different answers you’ll get with different agents. This works in all industries, not just airlines. Keep in mind, your best chances of seat selection is more than three months before the departure or within the last month. Three months is better.
What about Westjet?
I love Westjet but because they don’t have a frequent flier program and are not tied to an alliance, I usually fly with the big boys. If you want to use budget carriers like Westjet, sign up for their reward programs as well. WestJet has a program using WestJet bucks. You earn them by flying or by credit cards that are associated with WestJet. If you really want to rack up points over a year though, make sure you sign up for other programs mentioned in this guide and in the Canadian Free Flyer club.
What happens if I forget to give my frequent flyer number when purchasing a flight?
Surprisingly, even after you fly, you can still call the airline and redeem the points – but it can be a pain in the ass. Make sure you have a copy of your boarding ticket on hand. With Aeroplan, I have actually received miles without the boarding ticket but you still need to know the exact times of your flight and the flight number. This doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try.
Can I use awards for one-way tickets?
Most of the time you can. Again, all airlines are different. Aeroplan offers one-way tickets and American Airlines uses one-way ticketing as their default. One-way tickets are usually less value for your points, so only do it if it makes sense. If the airline doesn’t offer it, consider booking a return trip far in advance just in case you decide to come back one day.
Can I give miles to people?
Transferring miles to someone’s account is not easy and usually results in losing much of the value. However, you can book a flight for someone else using your miles quite easily. You usually just do this by calling the airline and booking the flight in the other persons name. Another good option is to have the other person put their flight on hold, and then have you call and pay for the flight using your points. Make sure you have all the details including the record locater/confirmation code.
Should I sign up for more than one specific alliance carrier?
Some say that it’s probably simpler to just have one account with each alliance partner (1 Star Alliance partner account, 1 One World partner account, etc) so that you can credit all your alliance rewards to the same account. However, if you’re really active in your travels, you may want more than one. Also, if many deals/promotions are for a certain program, it helps to have accounts with each. I would still sign up since it’s free and allows you to build more points over time. Just sign up for programs as the promotions pop up.
What do I do if I don’t see points added to my account?
Wait a few weeks as it can be slow at times. If it seems something went wrong, call the airline. It always helps to hang on to the boarding pass or have a copy of it.
Can I combine miles between different accounts?
No. If you have 10,000 points with American Airlines and 15,000 with Air Canada, you can’t combine the two and have 25,000 points. You need to earn 25,000 points in each one (or whatever your goal is). The only programs that allow you to transfer are some credit card programs like American Express Rewards. Amex allows you to transfer to other programs such as Air Canada Aeroplan on 1:1 basis. You can also use your points in one program to book on a partner airline.