Airlines are making it increasingly difficult to earn frequent flyer miles and one particularly nasty way is by creating a cumbersome system to claim miles you weren’t rightfully credited. You’re often required to provide details from your boarding pass – with long waiting times before you’re allowed to do so.
It’s very important, if you want to ensure you get frequent flyer miles you’re due, to immediately take a photo of your boarding pass after it’s printed, here’s why.
You Fly But Don’t Get Miles
In my experience, this happens about 20% of the time, particularly when flying on partner airlines of these three major alliances. Some airlines (*cough Turkish Airlines*) also seem to habitually neglect crediting miles. All of the airline programs have some system where flyers can request miles not credited. The difficulties come in the long waiting periods to actually realize, then claim, then follow up on missing miles.
Airlines Keep You Waiting In Hopes You’ll Forget
Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical but in order to get miles you weren’t credited, the airlines impose long waiting periods, all the more chance you’ll forget about the missing miles in the first place.
- Time Airlines Have To Post Miles: Varies between around 2-15 days after a flight, meaning you can’t notice or claim missing miles until this period is over.
- First Claim Waiting Period: The airlines give themselves around 2-3 weeks after a claim to post (or not) miles.
So the total amount of time you have to potentially get miles back is 1 month – and that’s for the first claim. Personally, I’ve had to go back and claim miles twice for about 40% of my un-credited miles; essentially adding another two weeks to the month it already takes. Keep in mind the airlines never follow up with you – the burden of checking, claiming, and verifying is all on you.
Get In To The Habit
It used to be that many airlines would require you to physically mail in boarding pass stubs, why I recommended keeping them for at least a month after flying. Although that’s still not a bad idea, snapping a photo of the complete boarding pass with your phone as soon as it’s in your hands works just as well.
I even go a step further a create a special ‘boarding passes’ folder on my phone, not deleting any of them until I see miles for those flights credited to my account. Much like keeping a digital travel budget, you can even use some of these travel reminder tools to ensure lost frequent flyer miles don’t slip your mind.
Finally, it’s important to take a photo of the entire boarding pass – not just the stub. Airlines require the complete ticket number which sometimes overflows from the boarding stub on to the ticket itself; or sometimes it’s not on the stub at all. Even though claiming frequently flyer miles online is tedious, don’t let the airlines discourage you out of getting them. Uploading boarding pass stubs to claim miles (when they’re not properly credited) only take a few minutes and even the occasional flight can get you free upgrades.