Watch for Expiration of Frequent-Flier Miles American Airlines 1993 Miles Run out Soon
Mark Sappenfield, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
Frequent fliers on American Airlines who haven't been paying attention to their monthly statements lately may get a bit of a surprise come January.
That's because the airline will erase any miles earned in 1993 at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31. Happy New Year.
For now, members of American Airlines' frequent-flier program are the only ones who have to scramble to save their miles before New Year's Day - and even they have several options. But more and more, the major airlines are making their frequent fliers travel free sooner rather than later (see box), using expiration dates on both miles and mileage coupons. Since American started its program of erasing three-year-old frequent-flier miles back in 1989, United, Northwest, and Delta have followed suit. Bill Dreslin, a spokesman for American, says they did it mostly to avoid a potential costly liability. "You could conceivably get into a situation where everyone decides to cash in at once, and there would be no way to manage it." But after years of no limitations, frequent-flier miles have proved hard to rein in. United, for example, has two classifications for its miles. Those earned before July 1988 were earned on an old plan, and if they aren't transferred to United's new plan (free of charge), they expire on Dec. 17, 1997. Miles earned since July 1988 are on the new plan, and all miles earned through 1995 will expire on Dec. 31, 1998. All miles either earned or transferred from a pre-1988 account after 1995 will expire three years later. Other airlines have a similarly complex deadlines. If you keep flying with Delta, miles don't expire. If you stop, they will expire three years after your last flight. With United, American, and Delta, you can exchange miles for. a coupon before the expiration date, which will extend them another year. …