I constantly tell readers that they need to be detail-oriented in order to master miles and points hobby. Well, the truth is, it’s often the case of “do as I say, not as I do” kind of thing. To be fair, there is so much to juggle, my head starts spinning at times. Keeping track of multiple credit cards, minimum spends etc. Oh, and I have a blogging business, small kids and a house to take care of.
But enough with the excuses. So, as many of you know, my mom was able to visit us twice in 2016. Not something my husband was thrilled about, but that’s neither here nor there (read Miles for Family Dollar post for a peek into my dysfunctional world).
Anyway, she flew Lufthansa both times, and I was able to add her United frequent flyer number to the reservation. If at all possible, I try to collect miles in American-based programs, unless there is strong incentive to do otherwise. I’ve been burned by Czech Airlines after they suddenly changed their expiration policy, and ended up losing my entire stash that I collected for years.
In this case, the mileage earning rate was identical, and I would much rather have United miles than ones in Lufthansa program. For most people, Lufthansa miles will expire 36 months after they are earned, regardless of activity. There are exceptions: elite Lufthansa status and having a co-branded Lufthansa credit card with monthly purchase activity. Not an ideal set-up for an average Joe.
The mileage for flights in March credited just fine and I never bothered to check one for November. Oops. Well, just yesterday I logged in to her account and, look ma, no miles! But not to worry, United allows you to submit a request as long as it hasn’t been more than 12 months since the time of the flight. Pretty generous policy, actually.
You first have to go to this page:
Unfortunately, I was first required to input Lufthansa ticket number which I didn’t have. I didn’t really take note of that information and it wasn’t anywhere on the original confirmation email. The only way to get it was to call Lufthansa and hope that they will dig it up. So that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately, since it’s been eight months, the agent wasn’t able to pull up the reservation. She kept trying, to no avail, and had to get help from the supervisor.
Finally, after 20 minutes or so, they found the record and what they thought was the number of the ticket. Thumbs up to Lufthansa rep for her persistence. I wrote it down and submitted the request on United.com. Even that part didn’t go smoothly and the page gave an error a few times, making me enter the information all over again.
I honestly think most normal people would give up at that point. After all, my mom only had about 8,100 miles to begin with. But I’m not a normal person. So, with some persistence, I finally got the miles credited.
Yup, all that work for only 5,000 miles.
Was it worth it?
At this point I don’t really know. But the miles might come in handy someday, possibly in a near future. If I happen to find low-level availability from SFO to MCO on United (12,500 miles one-way), my mom’s stash will take care of one ticket. So, yeah, that would be worth one hour of my time, for sure. A note for new readers: most programs, including United, allow you to use miles for someone else.
Another possibility is redeeming miles on one-way flight from Auckland to Queenstown on Air New Zealand (a partner). Those currently cost 17,500 United miles, but will run at 8,000 miles as of 11/1/2017. I would need an additional 3,000 miles in order to get the second ticket, and could just transfer some from my dad’s account for a fee. He has about 4,000 United miles just sitting there and doing nothing… for now.
So, the moral of the story is that you should save your boarding passes if you happen to fly on a partner airline, and always follow up and make sure that you get the miles. Don’t just assume they’ll show up because you added the frequent flyer number to the original reservation (which I did).
As you can see, even if a long time has passed, not all hope is lost. And don’t give up even if it’s a small amount in miles. Someday you might be very happy that you went through the trouble of getting it credited to your account.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.