While this is probably not at the top of your list of questions after losing a loved one, it often comes up. This topic becomes extremely relevant when a loved one was a frequent traveller and gathered many miles or points over the years. The points can be worth a great deal of money, possibly even thousands of dollars. No one wants to lose that amount of money. However, what happens to those points after an individual passes away? The policy of most airlines is that any and all points become void after the death of the individual. However, there are some ways around this, depending on the airline.
Alaska Airlines has no official policy regarding the frequent flyer miles collected by an individual who has now passed away. However, they will transfer any frequent flyer miles collected to a spouse or other loved one at no cost. All that is required is that they see a death certificate. Alaska Airlines refers to this as its Memorial Miles program.
American Airlines’ policy clearly states that any frequent flyer miles collected by an individual cannot be transferred to someone else after the individual has passed away. However, their policy also states that points and/or mileage can be transferred to authorized individuals at the discretion of the airline. There may be a fee associated with this, however. The airline requires a copy of the death certificate and an affidavit, which includes the account number of the deceased and the account number to which the miles will be transferred. At this point, the miles can be divided up into more than one account.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines’ policy also states that frequent flyer miles collected by an individual cannot be transferred to someone else after an individual has passed away. Their position is that any miles accrued are not the property of any one individual and Delta sticks to this policy.
JetBlue will not transfer points and/or mileage; however, their Family Pooling feature makes it easy for loved ones to inherit the accumulated points. By turning the family-pooling feature on, the points remain available to the family for their use following the passing of the loved one.
Southwest Airlines’ policy again states that any frequent flyer miles collected by an individual cannot be transferred to someone else after the individual has passed away. The member’s account becomes inactive 24 months after the last earning date and the points will no longer be available for use. However, if you call an agent, he or she may tell you that if you send them a copy of the death certificate that the points can be transferred to the beneficiary. This is done at no cost.
United Airlines’ policy indicates that transferring any frequent flyer miles accumulated by an individual is not possible after the individual has passed away. However, their policy also states that points and/or mileage can be transferred to authorized individuals at the discretion of the airline. In addition, any mileage accrued can be transferred to another United Airlines Mileage Plus account using United’s Transfer Miles program.
All airline agents quietly indicate that if the airline is not notified of the death of your loved one and you know his or her username and password, then the miles and/or points are available for your use. Therefore, it would seem that the best way to ensure that your loved ones have access to any accumulated frequent flyer miles after you pass away is to provide them with your account and login information. Do not always take the airline’s policy at face value; give the company a call to find out just what the airline is willing to do. Most are sympathetic, and have policies, whether explicitly stated or not, regarding methods to transfer any accumulated points to the family.