The New York Times recently did research to find out and the answer was far from consistent.
Only two airlines contacted have a specific, written policy that allows your miles to be transferred to a surviving family member – American and US Air. On the American Airlines site, in the section titled “Earning AAdvantage Miles”, they outline their specific policy. US Air states their policy under General Terms and Conditions.
One airline, JetBlue, said that they don’t have a specific policy but, after receiving a death certificate and other documentation, will transfer the miles to a beneficiary.
Southwest Airlines has a specific policy – it does not allow transfer of any miles after the death of a RapidRewards member.
Delta’s policy is to not transfer miles. However, upon request of a SkyMiles member’s surviving family member, they may make an exception and move the miles to their account.
United also said their policy is that miles are not transferable upon death. However, MileagePlus evidently has a form that can be completed to request transfer of miles from a deceased member’s account to that of a beneficiary. Along with the completed form, a copy of the death certificate and a $75 fee must be submitted.
If you have a lot of unused frequent flier miles, you might want to specifically bequeath them in your will. However, the airline holding them is still not legally required to give them to the beneficiary of it is against their company policy.
What’s the easiest thing to do? Make sure your frequent flier miles are on an airline that will allow your family to inherit them or start travelling more now, using up that bank of valuable miles while you can.
For more information about what happens to your assets when you’re no longer around, go to www.diesmart.com.