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Million Mile Secrets reader Mary emailed:
My husband passed away 3 months ago. Can I use his accumulated American Airlines miles to buy an airline ticket for my son?
Mary, you have our condolences on the loss of your husband. I hope you’re able to find peace during this difficult time.
Our reader Mary wants to know if she can use her deceased husband’s American Airlines miles to buy a ticket for her son. Technically, she’s not allowed to do that. But there’s an unofficial way around the rules as well as an official appeal process.
The easiest way is if Mary can log into her deceased husband’s account and book the award. This requires access to his username and password.
If Mary doesn’t know his username and password, but has access to his email accounts, she can change the password to gain access.
American Airlines Policy
According to the terms of American Airlines mileage expiration policy, miles do NOT belong to the person who has earned them. So American Airlines miles can NOT be transferred upon death.
Except as otherwise explained below, mileage credit is not transferable and may not be combined among AAdvantage members, their estates, successors and assigns. Accrued mileage credit and award tickets do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage, nor award tickets, nor upgrades are transferable by the member (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise by operation of law. However, American Airlines, in its sole discretion, may credit accrued mileage to persons specifically identified in court approved divorce decrees and wills upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to American Airlines and upon payment of any applicable fees. Mileage credit is transferable between AAdvantage accounts when offered by AA online, with the shareAAmilesSM program. The member must adhere to the rules and limitations of the shareAAmiles program.
This means that Mary’s husband’s American Airlines miles can NOT be transferred or used to book a ticket for Mary’s son. However, there could be an exception.
If Mary’s husband left his American Airlines miles to his wife in his will and his American Airlines miles have not expired, Mary might be able to use his American Airlines miles.
1. The Unofficial Way
Mary could use her deceased husband’s American Airlines miles if she knows his username and password and can log into his American Airlines account.
If Mary doesn’t know her husband’s username and password, she could change or reset the password if she has access to his email accounts.
2. The Official Way
To be able to use her deceased husband’s American Airlines miles, Mary has to provide a death certificate, a copy of the will and (possibly) pay a fee of $50 to American Airlines to transfer her deceased husband’s American Airlines miles to her American Airlines account. Then she could use his (now her) American Airlines miles to buy a ticket for her son.
However, American Airlines could deny the request. If they do, Mary might be tempted, but Mary should NOT sell her husband’s American Airlines miles.
Because she would lose all the miles in his American Airlines account (if American Airlines hasn’t already closed the account) and she could lose any American Airlines miles in her account!
For folks in the unfortunate situation of having a critically sick loved one, you might consider updating the will to include frequent flyer miles. Or, if it makes sense financially, you might pay the fee to transfer miles out of the account to your partner or child.
If there are enough miles in the account for an award flight, you can book a flight with the miles for someone else in the future, even if you’re not sure of the dates and destinations. It could be better to pay the fees associated with changing the flight later than to lose all the miles.
And make sure to keep the username and passwords so that you can access the account later on.
While normally you can use your miles to book a flight for anyone, Mary can NOT use her deceased husband’s American Airlines miles to book a ticket for her son.
But if she has access to her husband’s username and password, she can book the ticket for her son as if she were her husband. 😉
In the case that Mary can’t get into his American Airlines account but does have access to his email, she can change his American Airlines password and then proceed with booking the ticket.
American Airlines doesn’t consider American Airlines miles as property. So they can NOT be transferred or used after death. However, American Airlines does sometimes allow exceptions for American Airlines miles that are bequeathed in a will.
So if Mary’s husband left his American Airlines miles to her, they might permit her to transfer them to her account and book a ticket for her son.
Mary, Emily and I send you our sympathy. Please let us know if American Airlines grants your request.
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