Preserving your hard-earned miles

Tracy Stewart, November 25, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. While I've been busy taking early retirement due to illness, watching my 401K tank, moving from Miami to San Diego, and dealing with other stressful stuff, Delta changed its policy on frequent flyer miles.

    The last paper notices I have indicate that my husband and I have roughly 70,000 miles available, due to expire in December.

    But it appears that Delta decided to change mileage expiration dates from two years ending December 31 to two years after the last date of activity. The upshot is that we have just 13,000 miles available.

    We were never notified of the policy change. This is a mean, cheap trick. Is there any way of getting around it?

    A. You could certainly ask Delta to re-instate the miles, but somehow I doubt they will. Changing the mileage expiration rules is one way airlines are trying to remove frequent flyer miles, which are a financial liability, from their books. But there is no reason why anyone should have miles expire. If you shop online, even if you buy a 99-cent iTunes from, you should make your purchases through the airlines’ shopping malls. Doing so keeps your frequent flyer account active for another year or two, depending on the airline. Delta, for example, has over 150 retail partners, such as,, and, and they give bonus miles for each $1 spent. But you have to make your online purchases through the airline’s shopping site. The prices are exactly same. Do a browser search for “airfarewatchdog shopping” for handy links to the major airlines’ online shopping malls and make all your online purchases through these sites. Airlines also have dining programs which award miles for dining out, and this activity also extends mileage expiration dates. More on this in the blog.