by: The Global Traveller

Prompted by US Senator Charles Schumer’s attempt to regulate frequent flyer program mileage expiry, the latest Inside Flyer includes a piece on mileage expiry of frequent flyer and frequent stay programs.

They not only look at the expiry policy, which varies widely between programs, but also at how well it is communicated. I agree with Randy’s wish that programs simply state the facts as they apply to each member.

Your miles will expire on {date} unless you {do this}.

Far too many programs either do not make the expiry explicit (forcing their members to hunt for the policy) or just state the policy and leave it to their members to work out what the expiry date actually is.

Here is a quick summary of frequent flyer program mileage expiry policies, in a subjective ranking from least to most restrictive. I’ve included rather more frequent flyer programs than are included in the Inside Flyer article, but I have not included any of the frequent stay programs expiry policies.

No expiry
Delta
Shanghai Airlines
TAP (with fee every 3 years)

No expiry for grandfathered miles
Asiana (miles earned before 30 September 2008)
Korean (miles earned before 30 June 2008)

No expiry with program issued credit card
Lufthansa et al

No expiry with elite status (any elite status unless otherwise mentioned)
Air France/KLM
Air New Zealand (gold and gold elite only)
ANA (diamond only)
Lufthansa et al
Malaysian (platinum only)

3 years after last activity
British Airways
Czech Airlines (redemptions do not count as activity)
Midwest
Spanair
Virgin Atlantic

2 complete calendar years after last activity
Frontier

2 years after last activity
Alaska (account cancellation is not necessarily enforced)
bmi

18 months after last activity
American
Continental (account cancellation is not necessarily enforced)
Hawaiian
Mexicana
Qantas (from 1 July 2010)
United
US Airways (can pay fee to extend 18 further months)
Virin America (from March 2010)

10 years after earning
Gulf Air
Korean (miles earned before 1 July 2008 are grandfathered) – announced but not yet implemented (currently 5 years expiry)

7 years after earning
Asiana elite members (miles earned before 1 October 2008 are grandfathered)

1 year after last activity or 7 years after earning, whichever comes first
Air Canada (at 7 years after earning can be extended for a fee)

5 years after earning
Asiana non-elite members (miles earned before 1 October 2008 are grandfathered)
SAS

4-5 years after earning
Air New Zealand
Qatar

3-4 years after earning
Emirates
Malaysian (can be extended 12 months for a fee)
South African
Thai

3 years after earning
Cathay Pacific
El Al
Lufthansa et al
Singapore Airlines (can be extended up to 12 months for a fee)
TAP (can be extended indefinitely, by 3 years at a time, for a fee)
Turkish Airlines

2 years after last flight activity

Aeroflot

2 years after last status earning flight (on own metal)
Aeromexico

20 months after last status earning
Air France/KLM

1 year after last earning
JetBlue (only earning from JetBlue flights or JetBlue Amex counts)

2-3 years after earning
ANA

2 years after earning
Air China
Southwest

2 years after earning with elite status or airline issued credit card
AirTran

1 year after earning
AirTran

6 months after last time earnt 2000+ miles
Spirit

I’m not sure why Aeromexico got an Inside Flyer thumbs up when Air France/KLM got a thumbs down. Sure Aeromexico has 24 months expiry versus 20 months, but neither are particularly long and Aeromexico requires earning on an Aeromexico flight in that period whereas Air France/KLM’s requirement is for any Sky Team flight.

I don’t think the Inside Flyer explanation of how Singapore Airlines miles expire is clear or correct. Expiry is based on the date each mile was earned, regardless of how much or little other account activity there has been since then.

Summary

Some of these expiry policies are downright mean. Anything tied to date of earning, or requiring activity more often than once every 2 years has the effect that the frequent flyer program provides very little value for infrequent flyers. It is natural and right for the programs to concentrate on members who are high value to the airline and try to save costs by eliminating low value memberships. However, it is worth them remembering that travellers’ circumstances change and an unduly harsh expiry rule can jeopardise a potentially valuable future relationship. Or, if Sen Schumer has his way, result in government interference. No one wants that!

Updated more than once.

Musings of the Global Traveller
Thoughts, advice and travel news from around the world by a seasoned frequent flyer.

  1. apoivre said,

    Hmmm, there’s a couple of mistakes

    bmi – no expiry (although they reserve the right to close all new accounts that haven’t had any activity within 1 year of their creation)

    Aeroflot – 2 years after last flight activity

  2. The Global Traveller said,

    Thanks, I’ll correct Aeroflot.

    The 2 years for bmi refers to rule 11.3
    “Members who have not recorded any activity with bmi, its Diamond Club partners, or made a redemption with the same parties and other promotional third parties, for a 12 month period, from the date of their last recorded activity on the Diamond Club database, shall be deemed dormant. If no claim is made on any residual Destinations Miles on that member’s account, membership may be terminated after a further 12 months and all remaining miles forfeited.”

    12 months until dormancy plus 12 months until miles are forfeit.

  3. Gary said,

    Thanks for this post. Read the article on a flight the other day and intended to do something similar, glad you beat me to the punch. Singapore also jumped off the page at me as incorrect in the article’s treatment.

    I haven’t figured out Mexicana Frecuenta’s expiry, though. You?

  4. The Global Traveller said,

    Thanks Gary

    I didn’t look at Mexicana. They have 18 months after last activity, and this is now added to the post.

  5. Gary said,

    Thanks… time to transfer 1 Starpoint, as I’ve been doing roughly annually for years. hah!

    Have about 26k miles sitting there that at some point it’ll be easier to use than keep track of…

  6. Troy said,

    Just let know that Shanghai Airline miles expire at the end of 3rd calender year after earning

  7. Lynda said,

    Good to see that everyone is reading InsideFlyer. I wanted to point out something regarding the article. The thumbs up/thumbs down symbols related to how well the program communicates to their members when their miles/points will expire – not what the policy is. So, if a program’s miles expire after one year but they communicate that well to members, they would get a thumbs up over a program with miles that expire in three years but that does not communicate well when those miles will expire.

    Regarding Singapore, the mileage expiration policies for all the programs were cut and pasted directly from their program information. The policy published was found in their terms and conditions (warts and all, as they say, since it seems to be misleading, as you pointed out). http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/en_UK/content/krisflyer/customerservice/terms.jsp?v=1576993414&

  8. The Global Traveller said,

    Thanks Lynda. I always read Inside Flyer.

    I can see where the confusion arose. Kris Flyer T&C A11 refers to account closure if no activity after 36 months (or 18 if new account). But B17 covers mileage expiry, which is 3 years after earning.

  9. Virgin America elavate mileage expiry change - Musings of The Global Traveller said,

    [...] Frequent Flyer Mileage Expiry [...]

  10. What Programs have points that do not expire? said,

    [...] Users have the option of removing this and all other advertisements.  More Frequent Flyer Mileage Expiry – Musings of The Global Traveller Frequent flyer mileage expiry – Musings of The Global Traveller Reply With Quote [...]

  11. The Global Traveller said,

    Korean (post July 2008) updated to 10 years after earning from 5 years. Hat-tip to Gary Leff

    Note Asiana is expected to follow suit.

  12. Comprehensive Mileage Expiration Chart: One of the Most Useful Blog Posts Ever Written - View from the Wing said,

    [...] of the Global Traveller wrote an exhaustive list in a February blog post about all major frequent flyer program expiration policies. I know most of [...]

  13. Gary said,

    Might be worth distinguishing how long a member can extend miles, status vs no status. From the T&C link Lynda provides above (and it’s clear that the Inside Flyer article confused account expiration from mileage expiration):

    17. A member’s KrisFlyer miles will expire after three years at the end of the equivalent month in which they were earned. For example, miles credited to a member’s KrisFlyer account in July 2006 will expire on 31 July 2009.

    18. KrisFlyer miles that are due to expire for the first time may be extended for a fee. For KrisFlyer members, miles may be extended once for a period of six months only. KrisFlyer Elite Silver, KrisFlyer Elite Gold and PPS Club members may extend their miles for a period of one year only.

    So non-elites can only extend 6 months. I’m going to need to figure out how to spend the stash of SQ miles I’ve got…

  14. Biggles209 said,

    I’m pretty sure that Continental has no expiry on OnePass miles

  15. tdy85 said,

    I thought Virgin America has an 18 months after last activity expiration policy now, not 18 months after earning?

  16. The Global Traveller said,

    @tdy85 – yes Virgin America elevate mileage expiry changed in March this year. I’ve corrected this post. Thank you for alerting me.

  17. The Global Traveller said,

    @Biggles209 – Continental Onepass has no mileage expiry but has the right to close inactive accounts after 18 months. In practice they don’t routinely close inactive accounts after 18 months, but I’d hate to rely on it and then lose a material mileage balance.

  18. sendaiben said,

    JAL also waives milage expiration for Diamond status elites.

    Both ANA and JAL have three year expiry on miles.

  19. Xandrios said,

    [..]has the effect that the frequent flyer program provides very little value for infrequent flyers.[..]

    Well its called _frequent_ flyer for a reason. Somebody who flies once every xx Years can hardly be called a frequent flyer in my opinion. Why should a FFP do anything for people with such flying pattern?

  20. KemperBoyd said,

    Qantas define activity as any transaction within the account…being a stranded QFF, I simply bought mum some flowers using one of their partners…

  21. The Global Traveller said,

    Most programs that link mileage expiry to activity allow mileage transactions from any source to reset the expiry date. The few exceptions (requiring flight activity) are noted in the post.

  22. A young man w/ Questions about FF Miles, Credit Cards, and Japan - FlyerTalk Forums said,

    [...] Originally Posted by Madinat thanks for the link! just outta curiousity–i thought ALL FFP's kept your miles as long as you had activity in the account every so often(18-24months)? To answer your question: No that is incorrect. There are many mileage programs where miles expire regardless of activity. Out of the major carriers for example, Korean Air miles expire 5 years after earning (switching to 10 years eventually), Asiana after 7 years, Thai after 3-4 years, Cathay Pacific after 3 years, etc. The point is you need to carefully research your program before making a choice, The AA cards currently have outstanding sign up bonuses but the SPG card earns the equivalent of 1.25 AA (or a multitude of other choices) miles assuming you take advantage of the 25% bonus on transfers in blocks of 20K SPG points and has a lower annual fee (just raised to $65 annually but still less than the $85 you will see on the AAdvantage platinum. Here is an excellent chart that summarizes mileage expiration policies for numerous airlines. Kudos to The Global Traveller for putting this summary together! http://boardingarea.com/theglo…eage-expiry-2/ [...]

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  24. adl73x said,

    Malev Duna Club miles expire 3 years after earning with no possibility of extension.

  25. Frequent Flyer Miles & Hotel Points: A Primer for Beginners | Free Travel for Families said,

    [...] Yes and no. Some pro­grams set a date for the expi­ra­tion of miles/points. The expi­ra­tion date may be after one year, 18 months, or two years of inac­tiv­ity. Miles and points from other pro­grams, like Delta’s SkyMiles, don’t expire. It’s best to learn the expi­ra­tion terms of the pro­grams that you par­tic­i­pate in. Track­ing pro­grams like Award­Wal­let will also warn you when you’re in dan­ger of for­feit­ing rewards due to inac­tiv­ity. Also check out this excel­lent blog post by The Global Trav­eller out­lin­ing the expi­ra­tion terms for fre­quent flyer miles across many air­lines. [...]

  26. Which FFP has mileage that never expires? - FlyerTalk Forums said,

    [...] blog post frequent flyer mileage expiry has the expiry criteria for all major frequent flyer programs. __________________ [...]

  27. Need advice on which *A FF scheme to join? - please post here - Page 33 - FlyerTalk Forums said,

    [...] for. Here is a page that shows which programs have expiring miles….that maybe of some use: http://boardingarea.com/theglo…eage-expiry-2/ __________________ India Trip Report; My [...]

  28. What is the easiest way to extend the expiration of my miles? - FlyerTalk Forums said,

    [...] then claims never expire on the other. http://www.flybmi.com/bmi/src/aspx/p…sandconditions http://boardingarea.com/theglo…eage-expiry-2/ 2 years after last activity bmi http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index…Program_Basics Mileage [...]

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