What Happens to Frequent Flyer Points After You Die?

What happens to frequent flyer points after you die?
Many airlines will terminate a member’s account and forfeit their points once they are notified of their death.

It’s not something anyone really likes to think about, but what exactly happens to your frequent flyer points after you die?

Many people have life insurance and a will, as this makes things easier for loved ones in case they pass away. But few have a contingency plan for their frequent flyer points. Understandably, when a loved one dies, points are probably the last thing on your mind.

But those points can be valuable, and if you don’t do anything, they may be forfeited. So it’s worth taking a few minutes to understand what happens to frequent flyer points after death, and what you can do to ensure they are not lost.

Unlike money, most airlines make it very clear in their loyalty program terms & conditions that frequent flyer points are not the property of the person. They belong to the airline, and the airline can choose to forfeit the points if the account holder dies. If this is the airline’s policy, it will usually be stated in the frequent flyer program’s terms and conditions.

In general, therefore, it’s a good idea to transfer the points to a family member’s account while the account holder is still alive. (Of course, this is not always possible or practical.)

But some airlines are a bit more lenient, allowing a deceased member’s points to be bequested or transferred to a family member at the airline’s discretion.

Every frequent flyer program has a different policy regarding frequent flyer points after death. We put together this summary of the main frequent flyer programs of interest to Australians…

Qantas Frequent Flyer

All Qantas Frequent Flyer points are forfeited after the death of the member. In fact, any points transferred out of a member’s account after the date of their death, but before Qantas is notified, will also be cancelled. So, if possible, try to transfer the points out while the member is still alive… and beware of the consequences of notifying Qantas of the member’s death!

Here’s what section 8.3 of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Terms and Conditions says:

8.3 Membership will terminate automatically on the death of a Member. All Qantas Points earned but not yet redeemed or transferred prior to the death of the Member will be cancelled with effect from the date of death. Qantas Loyalty will close the Member’s account on notification of the Member’s death. Qantas Loyalty will not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever suffered by any person as a result of such cancellation.

This clause was updated a few years ago to specifically state that Qantas points will be cancelled with effect from the date of death. Previously, this just happened once the airline was notified of the member’s death.

Velocity Frequent Flyer

With Velocity Frequent Flyer, it is possible to redeem or transfer the points of a deceased member as long as they haven’t yet expired (Velocity points expire after 2 years of account inactivity). Status credits and eligible sectors cannot be transferred. The executor or administrator of the member’s estate would need to contact Velocity to request this.

Here’s the relevant excerpt from section 2.3 of the Velocity Frequent Flyer Terms & Conditions:

Executors or administrators of your estate can ask us to transfer your Points to another Velocity account or redeem Points associated with your Velocity account (or both). They’ll need to let us know as soon as possible as unused Points will continue to expire in accordance with clause 3 (Earning Points). Status Credits and Eligible Sectors can’t be transferred and will be forfeited once we are notified of your death.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines takes a no-nonsense approach. All KrisFlyer miles and membership benefits will terminate immediately after the death of the member. With KrisFlyer, it’s also not possible to transfer miles to family members.

Here’s what section C6 of the KrisFlyer terms & conditions says:

Membership will terminate immediately upon death of the member. KrisFlyer miles, status credits and rewards earned but not redeemed at the time of death, as well as benefits and privileges, will be automatically forfeited on the death of the member. Miles and rewards do not constitute personal property and may not be bequeathed or otherwise treated as personal property.

Air New Zealand Airpoints

Air New Zealand’s Airpoints program takes a similar approach to Velocity Frequent Flyer. The Airpoints account will be cancelled once Air New Zealand is notified of the member’s death. But the executor of the member’s estate can request that the Airpoints balance in the account be transferred to a beneficiary within two years.

Section 6 of the Air New Zealand Airpoints™ terms & conditions states:

Following the date that we become aware of the death of an Airpoints Member, the deceased Member’s Airpoints Account, Shairpoints Account, Status Points, and all other Airpoints Member Benefits will be cancelled and become invalid. If we receive a written request by the executor of an Airpoints Member’s estate to transfer the deceased Airpoints Member’s current Airpoints Dollars balance (but not their Status Points) to the Airpoints accounts of the beneficiaries of the Airpoints Member’s estate, we will do so if we are satisfied that the request is valid and lawful and if the request is made within 2 years of the death of the Airpoints Member.

Other airlines

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Avianca LifeMiles, Air France/KLM Flying Blue and British Airways Executive Club are also among the list of frequent flyer programs that will immediately cancel a member’s loyalty account and forfeit all of their points and accrued benefits upon notification of their death.

Other airlines are much more lenient. Air Canada, for example, has a published Aeroplan Estate Policy which explains how beneficiaries of a late member’s estate can request the member’s Aeroplan points to be transferred to their account/s. Aeroplan requires scanned copies of the member’s death certificate and the portion of their will which names the beneficiaries.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Emirates Skywards and Etihad Guest also have similar exceptions which make it possible for the miles of a deceased member to be transferred to other people’s accounts, at the discretion of the airlines, upon the presentation of appropriate documentation. American Airlines AAdvantage and United MileagePlus also provide avenues to do this, although fees may be involved.

 

You can leave a comment or discuss this topic on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

Community Comments

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They become easier to use?

Reply 5 Likes

Presumably the airlines only find out that someone has expired before their points do is when a loved one contacts them trying to get access!

Reply 1 Like

Or someone inadvertently dobs them in ...

Reply 1 Like

click to expand...

This bit from the quoted Qantas T&Cs:

Qantas Loyalty will close the Member’s account on notification of the Member’s death.

... is not entirely correct in my recent experience. For tidyness, I rang to close a deceased siblings QFF account ( which I had full access to and couldn't see any " close account" option within it) and was told that Qantas required a copy of the death certificate to close the account. Didn't sound right but I haven't bothered to call and re check or to send them the death certificate.

Reply Like

This bit from the quoted Qantas T&Cs:

Qantas Loyalty will close the Member’s account on notification of the Member’s death.

... is not entirely correct in my recent experience. For tidyness, I rang to close a deceased siblings QFF account ( which I had full access to and couldn't see any " close account" option within it) and was told that Qantas required a copy of the death certificate to close the account. Didn't sound right but I haven't bothered to call and re check or to send them the death certificate.

How bizarre that Qantas makes it that difficult to close a frequent flyer account. I guess they are trying to prevent someone from "fraudulently" closing another person's account by claiming they have died, although I'm not sure what benefit that would bring to anybody.

If it's that difficult to close an account, it makes me wonder how many of QFF's claimed 13.6 million members are actually still alive.

Reply Like

click to expand...

They become easier to use?

...because you have all eternity to wait for seats to come up 😄

Reply Like

I have a printed copy of all my points accounts (no account details) and their associated terms and conditions relating to death, stored with my Will. I then use a password manager to share my account passwords with my next of kin. Hopefully this will give any of my next of kin (who are not dead, like me), the knowledge and opportunity to re-appropriate my points. I note on that printed copy, not to close my accounts, as I have lifetime memberships I wish to keep in my afterlife. 😀

Reply 3 Likes

I can't think of one valid reason why anybody would notify Qantas of a loved one's death, except where there's an employee/employer relationship.
Bizarre.

Reply 4 Likes

I can't think of one valid reason why anybody would notify Qantas of a loved one's death, except where there's an employee/employer relationship.
Bizarre.

I know when I had to do mum and dad's respective estates I just wanted everything tidied off. That included various reward schemes like Qantas.
I still , 8 years for dad and 6 years for mum , randomly get mail for them.

Reply Like

They go to live on a farm.

Reply 1 Like