Frequent flier miles: Getting what you've earned

Do you check your frequent flier accounts after your trip to ensure you’ve been credited with the miles you flew, or do you just trust that they’ll show up? Especially if you earned your miles on an airline that is a “partner” with your primary carrier, you absolutely should check. Diligently.

When we flew from Seattle (SEA) to Maui (OGG) on Hawaiian Airlines in September, I directed the airline to credit the miles – about 2,600 each way for each of us – to our AAdvantageMiles® account with partner airline American because we rarely fly Hawaiian. I try to accumulate miles in as few accounts as possible because there’s no value in having a small amount of miles spread over many different carriers.

I confirmed that our AAdvantage numbers appeared on our boarding passes and were correct before our outbound flight on Sept. 13 and before our return flight on Sept. 20.

Usually, a few days is all it takes for miles to show up in one’s account when flying the primary airline or one of its affiliated carriers. Miles earned on United or United Express usually get credited to one’s MileagePlus account pretty quickly. Same goes for miles earned on American Airlines or American Eagle and credited to one’s AAdvantageMiles® account. In fact, I’ve frequently seen the miles for my outgoing flight credited to my frequent flier account in mid-trip, before I’ve returned home. However, miles earned on partner airlines usually take longer to show up, and American’s AAdvantage website says it can take up to 30 days for partner miles to be credited.

It may also require a bit of diligence on your part to ensure you’re credited properly.

When I checked our account balances on Oct. 14 and didn’t see the miles we’d earned, I called American and spoke to a mileage representative about the issue. The rep asked for our ticket numbers, dates of travel, and flight numbers, sent a note to Hawaiian about the matter, then followed up with a note to me saying it “could take up to 30 [more] days for a response.”

As I write this on Oct. 27, the miles still haven’t been credited to our accounts.

The bottom line here is this: When you fly, save your confirmation e-mail and, ideally, your boarding passes. Check your frequent flier account a few days after your trip and, if the miles have been credited, you can discard or delete your documents. If your miles were earned on an airline “partner,” check back about a month after your trip; that should be sufficient time for your account to have been credited.

If it hasn’t happened, the documentation you saved will give you the information you’ll need to get what you’ve earned.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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