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Dining Miles Are Back on the Menu

For several years I have been publicly bemoaning the atrophy of what was once a reliable and generous source of frequent flyer miles, the dining miles program (operated by Rewards Network) that is linked to most major airline and hotel programs.

In the program's heyday, active members could earn 10 miles per $1 spent at thousands of participating restaurants, and even more during frequent bonus-mile promotions.

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Now the maximum payout is five miles per $1, and promotions are few and far between.

Disloyalty in the form of poor payouts breeds disloyalty in the form of reduced participation. I'm a case in point.

During one especially lucrative year, 2008, I earned enough miles for a free domestic award ticket solely by racking up dining miles. My year-to-date earnings for 2012, by contrast, total a measly 137. The program has fallen so far off my radar that I haven't even taken the time to register my newest credit cards to earn miles.

Perhaps I'm not alone. And perhaps our collective indifference has been noted by those whose jobs depend on keeping dining miles programs alive and well. Because in yesterday's cache of email, I received a note from the AAdvantage Dining program with the subject line "The 10,000 AAdvantage bonus mile celebration starts now." The offer:

Register for the 10,000 Reasons to Party Bonus and you'll earn 1,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles each time you spend a combined total of $250 at participating restaurants and complete dining reviews within 30 days through December 31, 2012. The offer can be earned up to 10 times, for a total of 10,000 bonus miles.

That's more like it!

I've since been advised that there are similar offers in effect for members of the Alaska Airlines, Delta, and United dining programs. All the offers are targeted and may have different bonuses and promotion periods.

If you're a member of any of these programs (or possibly others that I'm not yet aware of), be on the lookout for an email advising that you've been selected to earn the bonus. Click on the link in the email to register and have at it.

For myself, I registered for the bonus and will update my account to include all my current credit cards. More importantly, I will be looking for participating restaurants when lunchtime rolls around.

Reader Reality Check

Are dining miles a regular part of your mile-earning regimen?

If you've lost interest, is this offer enough to revive your interest in dining miles?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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