It’s not something we really like 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. Indeed, 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 has actually been updated in recent years 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.
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.
But 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.