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Can miles be claimed if the ticket is purchased with frequent flyer awards?

SmarterTravel

Dear Tim,

Thanks for all the helpful mileage information.

There’s a question that’s been on my mind that I hope you can shed light on. My question is: Can miles be claimed if the ticket is purchased with Frequent Flyer Awards?

Thanks,

Tess

Dear Tess,

If only it were possible!

If the ticket was obtained in exchange for frequent flyer miles (i.e. an award ticket), you won’t earn miles for it. The general principle here is that only revenue tickets earn miles. As with most broad principles, however, there are exceptions to the rule.

One question that naturally arises concerns hybrid tickets. A number of airlines allow you to purchase a ticket using a combination of cash and miles. Are such cash-and-miles tickets eligible for mileage accumulation? Again, no.

Then there are the tickets which, according to the airlines’ bean counters, aren’t sufficiently profitable to support the further discount represented by miles?which, after all, are a form of rebate.

Northwest, for example, doesn’t award miles for its CyberSaver fares. And you should always double-check when traveling on a packaged tour, as oftentimes, the specially-priced group-fare tickets carry a “No Mileage Credit” restriction.

Another category of no-mileage tickets is “opaque fares.”

As opposed to branded fares, opaque fares are those offered through Priceline and their ilk, where the consumer doesn’t know which airline he’s traveling on until his “blind bid” has been accepted. Although certainly revenue fares, opaque-fare tickets are likewise ineligible for mileage.

Having said all that, I know of cases where people earned miles for award trips, and other tickets that technically fall outside the rules. This suggests another principle to fly by: Expect the worst, but hope for the best.

Tim Winship
Contributing Editor
SmarterTravel.com

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