We all love to get a great deal on Business and First Class flights. There are plenty of legitimate ways to save money on flights, for example by taking advantage of airline sales or redeeming your own frequent flyer points. But some deals are, in fact, too good to be true.
You may have come across mileage brokers such as “I Only Fly First Class” or “Alpha Flight Guru”. These are online mileage brokers that sell Business and First Class tickets at a significant discount to the usual price. These businesses are able to offer these discounts by buying wholesale frequent flyer miles and booking award tickets using those miles on your behalf.
There’s just one small problem… not only is this a violation of the rules of almost every frequent flyer program in the world, but you also risk having your tickets cancelled and frequent flyer account terminated. In fact, if an airline finds out how you’ve obtained the ticket, some may even sue you for damages. Yet, these mileage brokers rarely disclose this.
Most frequent flyer programs specifically prohibit the buying or selling of frequent flyer points or award tickets in this way. For example, here’s what the Qantas Frequent Flyer terms and conditions say:
13.1.3 Reward Flights must not be bought, sold, assigned, transferred or acquired other than in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and the applicable Fare Conditions. Qantas or Qantas Loyalty may cancel, confiscate or refuse to honour any Reward Flight dealt with contrary to these Terms and Conditions or the Fare Conditions and, if travel has commenced, any continued travel will be at the passenger’s expense.
Furthermore, Qantas can suspend or terminate your frequent flyer account for “selling, assigning, transferring or acquiring, or offering to sell, assign, transfer or acquire any Reward, Benefit or Qantas Points other than in accordance with these Terms and Conditions”.
Other airlines have similar clauses. For example, here’s an excerpt from the American Airlines AAdvantage program terms & conditions:
At no time may AAdvantage® mileage credit or award tickets be purchased, sold, advertised for sale or bartered (including but not limited to transferring, gifting, or promising mileage credit or award tickets in exchange for support of a certain business, product or charity and/or participation in an auction, sweepstakes, raffle or contest). Any such mileage or tickets are void if transferred for cash or other consideration. Violators (including any passenger who uses a purchased or bartered award ticket) may be liable for damages and litigation costs, including American Airlines attorneys’ fees incurred in enforcing this rule.
Use of award tickets that have been acquired by purchase or for any other consideration may result in the tickets being canceled, confiscated and/or the passenger being denied boarding. If a trip has been started, any continued travel will be at the passenger’s expense on a full-fare basis. The passenger and member who attempts to use such a ticket may also be liable to American Airlines for the cost of a full fare ticket for any segments flown on a sold or bartered ticket.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer says:
O4. The sale or barter of KrisFlyer miles, Elite miles, PPS Value, rewards, award tickets or other benefits is prohibited and will result in cancellation of these KrisFlyer miles, Elite miles, PPS Value, rewards, award tickets and/or other benefits. Members who breach this rule may also be liable for damages, litigation and transaction costs.
And the Etihad Guest program makes it very clear that this practice is not allowed:
11.4. We, in our sole judgment, reserve the right to disqualify you from further participation in the Etihad Guest programme, cancel all accumulated Etihad Guest Miles and seek compensation for Rewards used, if we deem that you have engaged in willful misconduct or have breached any of the Terms and Conditions governing the Etihad Guest programme including but not limited to: failure to follow our policies and procedures, the sale or barter of Rewards or tickets…
At no time may Etihad Guest mileage credit or award tickets be purchased, sold or bartered. Any such mileage or tickets are void if transferred for cash or other consideration. Violators (including any passenger who uses a purchased or bartered award ticket) may be liable for damages. Use of award tickets that have been acquired by purchase or for any other consideration may result in the cancellation of the tickets or the passenger being denied boarding. If a trip has been started, any such travel will be at the passenger’s expense on a full-fare basis. The passenger and the member who violate these terms and conditions may also be liable to Etihad Airways for the cost of a full fare ticket for any segments flown on a sold or bartered ticket. Fraud, misrepresentation, abuse or violation of applicable rules (including, but not limited to Etihad’s conditions of carriage, tariffs and Etihad Guest program rules) is subject to appropriate administrative and/or legal action by appropriate governmental authorities and Etihad Airways. Such action may include, without limitation, the forfeiture of all award tickets, and any accrued mileage in a member’s account, as well as cancellation of the account and the member’s future participation in the Etihad Guest program. In addition, Etihad Airways reserves the right to take an appropriate legal action to recover damages, including its attorney fees incurred in prosecuting any lawsuit.
You get the idea… the airlines don’t like this and you have a lot to lose if caught. Others have had their mileage broker tickets cancelled in the past, and both Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer are known to audit and close frequent flyer accounts if they suspect breaches of the program terms and conditions. So, it’s really not worth the risk!
If you don’t have enough of your own points to book a reward ticket, the good news is that you can legitimately buy miles directly from some airlines. In fact, airlines such as American Airlines actively promote the sale of miles. This is completely fine as you’re legally buying miles directly from the airline, and redeeming the miles from your own, personal account, to book flights for yourself.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Interesting website found today… thoughts?