Changes for frequent flyer program

Frequent flyers need to pay close attention to some of the changes to the program
September 21, 2011 4:42:01 PM PDT
The merger between United and Continental has finally reached the frequent flyer program. There is one change Continental fliers will see that they may not like very much.

When the merger was announced you probably knew that changes would come to the frequent flyer program, and now we are learning the details. One thing you may not like -- your miles can now expire.

Continental's frequent flyer program is about to be folded into United's. The merged airline is releasing the details of the plan and one particular item is causing concern for continental's frequent flyers. Beginning next year, your miles can expire if you have no account activity for 18 months.

Continental frequent flyer Raul Rizopatron said, "I don't like my miles to expire, definitely."

An airline spokesperson tells us the both airlines have that rule, except that Continental has never enforced it. United does and it's got some flyers a little worried.

"We travel quite often, but not so often, you know we accumulate miles and to say you have to use them in 18 months, we probably wouldn't do it, we would lose miles," said Continental frequent flyer Bob Warnsman.

United Continental officials say it should be easy to keep miles from going away. They say when you buy an airline ticket or anything else offered by the airlines, including buying goods with an airline credit card, you extend the life of the miles in your account. You can also keep the miles from expiring by linking your account to certain store saving programs. Bottom line -- old One Pass members will need to keep a closer eye on their miles account.

Warnsman said, "The vast majority of the miles we accumulate is spending on the credit card. The secondary is actual travelling, but we would hate to lose the miles."

United's frequent flyer program has always had expiration dates for miles, but the airline's customers say they've never lost miles because of the policy.

United frequent flyer Paul Anderson said, "Never been an issue for me. I use the miles as an active assets because I quite honestly never know what is going to happen with them."

United says the new program also opens up about 100 new destinations for frequent flyers to travel to, and allows Continental frequent flyers access to the global entry program which allows you to skip long lines at international customs.

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