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Inheriting frequent flyer miles

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Inheriting frequent flyer miles

Despite the fact that many airlines issue blanket statements in their rules that miles are not transferable, period, many airlines do in fact allow miles to be inherited. Give a call to their frequent flyer service departments and you'll get an entirely different answer from what you see on their web sites, as this chart shows. 

Airline
What their site says
Cost to transfer miles among the living
What the service center told us about inheriting miles (deceased to inheritor)
Documentation needed to process deceased's account
Alaska Awards or accrued Miles, including purchased Miles, do not constitute the property of the member to whose Mileage Plan account the miles have been posted. Members can transfer 1,000 to 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000 miles at a cost of $10.00 per 1,000 miles, plus a $25.00 processing fee per transaction. A maximum of 100,000 miles can be transferred to or from an account per year. Alaska does not permit transferring miles upon death although there have been reports of agents overlooking this informal policy upon proof of a death certificate. A death certificate is required and proof of beneficiary status is required, but not all agents are willing to do this. Remember, once you notify Alaska that a specific member has passed away, they will cancel the account so be sure to ask an agent for information without giving the specific Mileage Plan number from the outset.
American "Except as otherwise explained below, mileage credit is not transferable and may not be combined among AAdvantage members, their estates, successors and assigns. Accrued mileage credit and award certificates and award tickets do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage, award certificates or tickets are transferable by the member (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law. However, American Airlines, in its sole discretion, may credit accrued mileage to persons specifically identified in court approved divorce decrees and wills upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to American Airlines and upon payment of any applicable fees." Transfer up to 100,000 miles for $10 per thousand (although the first 5,000 miles has a higher price of $20 per thousand). You'll also pay a $35 per transaction processing fee, and transfer a max of 100,000 miles per calendar year. It may take a few call transfers to get to this answer, but in-the-know agents can send an affidavit for the beneficiary to be completed and signed by the surviving spouse, sole heir, or executor of the estate. An uncertified copy of the death certificate must also be sent to the airline for proof. An uncertified copy of the death certificate must also be sent to the airline for proof. No fee required making this one of the more lenient and generous policies.
Delta Miles are not the property of any member. Except as specifically authorized in the Membership Guide and Program Rules or otherwise in writing by an officer of Delta, miles may not be sold, attached, seized, levied upon, pledged, or transferred under any circumstances, including, without limitation, by operation of law, upon death, or in connection with any domestic relations dispute and/or legal proceeding. You can transfer 1,000 to 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000 miles. A maximum of 300,000 miles can be transferred into any individual  SkyMiles account per calendar year. Up to 150,000 miles can be deducted from your account per calendar year. Transfer Miles transactions are nonrefundable and may take up to seven days to post to the recipient's account. The cost is $0.01 per mile, plus a $30 processing fee. Delta recently caused quite a stir with its public move to disallow transfers of miles after death following its former policy of permitting it via an affidavit. Miles are forfeited upon death although the phone agent admitted that Delta would not know of one's death unless notified (hinting that the onus is on the family member to enforce this policy). N/A
JetBlue
Points are non-transferable and may not be combined among TrueBlue Members, their estates, successors and assigns. Accrued points and award travel do not constitute property of member and are non-transferable (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise. Members can transfer points in increments of 1,000 at a time and up to 30,000  to another member. Points cost $12.50 per 1000-point transfer increment. The airline will make exceptions to its formal policy and transfer miles to a beneficiary following sufficient proof of a death certificate and documentation of beneficiary status. A death certificate and documentation proofing beneficiary status is required.
Southwest There are no transfers of earned credit between travelers. There are not transfers. The airline does not permit transfers, but it admits there is nothing stopping a relative from using a deceased family member's awards. There are no transfers permitted.
United "Accrued mileage and certificates do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage nor certificates are transferable (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law." 15 cents per mile plus a $30.00 transaction fee. Transfer up to 60,000 miles. Five phone calls received a myriad of answers from a flat-out "no" to a full-on "yes." It appears that some agents will allow you to transfer miles between the account of the deceased and a beneficiary. United charges a $75 flat fee, regardless of the number of miles. You'll need to complete a form and provide a death certificate. That is, if you find an agent willing to send you the form. Requests are on a case-by-case basis, it seems, and there is no maximum of miles that can be transferred. The form that the service center will send you, along with a death certificate and proof of beneficiary.
US Airways "All outstanding mileage may be transferred to the estate of a member upon a member's death, after production of appropriate documentation such as a death certificate and proof of beneficiary within one year of the member's passing. Miles cannot be transferred if the deceased member's account has been inactive for more than 36 months at the time of the member's passing. Mileage may not be transferred to any other person except pursuant to these rules. " 1 cent per mile plus a $30 processing fee. 50,000 miles maximum per transaction As long as you send a copy of the death certificate and will - or another document proving you're the beneficiary - within one year of the death, there's no maximum number of miles and no fee for transferring them. Death certificate and proof of beneficiary like a will
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