Wait a Minute, Aren't Award Tickets Supposed to be Free?

Carl Unger, June 07, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. I just received an email stating that Delta Airlines no longer charges a fee for cashing in frequent flyer miles. I wasn’t aware that Delta even charged for this service. Aren’t frequent flyer tickets free? And do other airlines charge?

    A. Actually, Delta recently announced that it would no longer charge for “last minute” requests for frequent flyer tickets. Previously, it charged most members of its frequent flyer program (except “elite” members) a hefty fee if they requested seats 20 or fewer days before travel. United also used to charge for this, but no longer does. Unfortunately, many other airlines do charge between $50 and $100 for “close-in ticketing” of award travel, but we expect that now that since Delta and United no longer do other airlines will follow suit. US Airways currently charges up to $50 to issue an award ticket, whether “last minute” or not; and many airlines now charge co-pay fees to upgrade from economy to business or first class, in addition to miles.

    Be sure to keep an eye on our Frequent Flyer Fees chart, which has all the info you need.

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