Q. Due to a family emergency, I was recently forced to cancel a flight I'd booked. The thing is, I dipped into my frequent flier miles to purchase the ticket. Since I didn't use them, I expected them to just be deposited back into my account. When I phoned the airline, I was told there'd be a $50 fee to do so! Is this common or was I duped?
A. Well, both. The majority of airlines do charge a fee when you need to cancel a flight purchased with frequent flier points, and ask to retain those unused miles. Who charges what? Well, Delta charges $75, United, US Airways, and American all charge $100, Northwest and Continental take $50 (unless you're Platinum Level, in which case it's free), and JetBlue charges TrueBlue members $45 to prolong their trip and an additional $45 when it comes time to rebook.
So let's say you used your points for a ticket that would have sold for $200 RT, and seven days before you fly, then decide not to use it. By the time you cough up those hefty fees ($100 for the last minute request, $100 to redeposit the miles...) you may have been better off just purchasing a new ticket! Seems like a lousy way for a business to reward their best customers.