What happens to your frequent flyer miles when you die?

2018-07-20 06:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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If you're a jet-setter like the late travel chef Anthony Bourdain, or you've been saving up your miles for retirement, chances are you have racked up a serious amount of frequent flyer miles - enough that it could be worth quite a big chunk of change.

Bourdain left his miles to his estranged second wife in his will, according to Page Six, but is this something worth doing? Most airlines and alliances have their own loyalty programmes, but each one has varying policies when it comes to the death of a member.

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Most might feel like it's not worth the hassle, but if you're anything like the American who racked up 19 million miles with United Airlines, according to The Points Guys, chances are you won't want all those days spent travelling to go to waste.

South African Airways' Voyager programme, which you can also use with Mango, has the following conditions if a member passes away, highlighting that it would be best to mention in your will who the miles should go to and that the beneficiary can't pass on the points if they also pass away:

  • Voyager must be informed of the member's death and a valid death certificate, medical report and a copy of the deceased member's last will and testament must be submitted to the nearest Voyager Service Centre.
  • If the beneficiary dies, the deceased Member's account reverts to SAA Voyager. Accumulated miles from the deceased member's account cannot be split among family members unless specified in the member's last will and testament, nor be combined with any other Voyager membership number.
  • However, the deceased member's beneficiaries may request awards from the deceased member's account, provided that there are sufficient unexpired miles available.
  • The beneficiary cannot transfer the awards mentioned above to a third party.
  • If the beneficiary dies, the account reverts to South African Airways.
  • No Miles will be credited to the Voyager Member's account after the date of death as stated on the death certificate or medical report.

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However, some loyalty programmes do not allow the transfer of points. Avios, most commonly used with Kulula and British Airways, says in its terms and conditions that "points accumulated but unused at the time of death shall be cancelled together with membership of the scheme".

Other point schemes that can be converted to flights like eBucks, Absa Awards and Discovery Miles do not have a death section in their terms and conditions, leaving it open to the conditions of a will.

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