Frequent flyer points – do they pass away with us?

By B Stead

Frequent flyer points, death, die, pass away, loyalty program

Frequent flyer points are valuable.  With cheap air fares and so much air travel these days, what happens to our frequent flyer points when we die? 

Can they be transferred?  Generally no, but after a quick search there are some exceptions, see below. For current and complete information check your frequent flyer program’s terms and conditions. 

A comparison of the treatment of frequent flyer points following death from selected frequent flyer programs:

Airline Program Treatment on Notification of Death
Air New Zealand Frequent Flyer Airpoints Membership automatically terminated. Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed. Transfers may be possible in limited circumstances.  Strict penalties apply to anyone seeking to claim accrued benefits of a deceased member.
American Airlines AAdvantage Accrued mileage is not property of the member and cannot be transferred upon death. However subject to their discretion and on receipt of appropriate official documentation satisfactory to AAdvantage, and payment of any applicable fees, mileage credit may be transferred between AAdvantage accounts.
British Airways Executive Club Membership automatically terminated. Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed.
Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Membership automatically terminated. Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed.
Emirates Skywards Membership is automatically terminated and accumulated miles cancelled.  If the deceased had a minimum balance of 20,000 miles at date of death their personal representative may app;ly for reinstatement of the miles in favour of the deceased’s heirs.  The decision is subject to Skyward’s discretion.
Etihad Guest Miles Membership automatically terminated. Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed. However on application of the deceased’s representative Etihad may in its discretion reinstate Guest Miles in favour of the heirs of the deceased, or in the case of  family Membership, in favour of the nominee appointed by the remaining Family Guest Members.
Jetstar Jetstar Dollars Membership automatically terminated.  Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed.
Qantas Quantas Frequent Flyers Membership automatically terminated.  Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Membership automatically terminated. Points not redeemed or transferred are cancelled and the account closed.
Virgin Velocity Executors or administrators of the deceased member’s estate will be given an opportunity to notify Velocity of their wishes regarding allocated member points.

Please note that as airlines may change their policies at any time, you should check their current terms and conditions.  

The ANZ Bank has a Frequent Flyer Rewards Program and states in its Reward Terms and Conditions at clause 11 that:

Points in a Points Record at the time of death of the Account Holder will be cancelled and may not be claimed by any other person.

The Commonwealth Bank does it slightly differently.  In their CommBank Awards Program they state that:

In the event of the death of a Member, any request by the beneficiary, Additional Cardholder, spouse or immediate family wishing to claim or use points remaining in the account must be notified in writing to the Bank’s CommBank Awards Service Centre within 6 months of the date of death. (Clause 48 of the Terms and Conditions).

International airlines vary so it is worth checking the applicable carrier’s policies.  For American airlines see the article published on 21 November 2012 by The New York Times on The Afterlife of Your Frequent Flyer Miles here. 

Note:  Airlines provide sanctions and penalties in various forms for misuse or any fraudulent activity of another person’s account, ranging from termination of an account, loss of accumulated points, miles and benefits to legal action.

As airlines may change their policies at any time so it is important to check their current terms and conditions.

BHS Legal
24 September 2013

Important notice: This article is intended for general interest and information only. It is not legal advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for legal advice. Always consult a legal practitioner and/or other professional for specialist advice specific to your needs and circumstances, and rely on that.

© BHS Legal

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