A reader has forwarded us an obnoxious notice from US Airways that explains how they “reward” their frequent flyer program members: by charging them $25 if they’re not active enough. So what are the best ways to remain active without spending $25 or making an unnecessary ticket purchase?
We’ve read some advice that says you could make a gift of some of your miles to a charity, but US Airways charges $25 to buy, gift, or share any miles. So instead, we suggest you earn your negative reward (jeez) by purchasing the cheapest product you can from their Dividend Miles Shopping Mall. They write in their email that a purchase as low as 99 cents will suffice, but they don’t point out what magical product in the SkyMall online store is only 99 cents. We’d suggest looking at low-cost products like magazine subscriptions or iTunes songs, or checking out a store you plan to shop from anyway (we saw Staples listed there).
Your other option, if you don’t care about sharing your dining purchase patterns with US Airways, is to register for their stupid Dining Rewards program with an existing credit card. We’re gonna have to stop making suggestions on how to do business with US Airways now because it’s making us feel bad about ourselves.
Yes, it sucks. It’s a ruthless way to prune less active customers and try to force others to open credit card accounts or choose US Airways for impractical reasons when traveling. And they should have had the courtesy and customer respect to grandfather existing miles. But if you really want to keep the ones you’ve earned, you’re gonna have to pony up something.
About that “reward” wording: pretty much all airlines have reduced their expiration schedules from the once-standard three year window to 12 or 18 months, but these ultimatum emails written in doublespeak are a low point in customer communication. But remember, US Airways is the company with the ads on the tray tables and the perpetually lost lost-and-found page. We fully expect their next innovation to be time-share seats, where you take turns standing with a fellow passenger because you’ve paid full price for the perk of sharing a single seat.
(Thanks to David!)
“Cheap and easy saves for at-risk miles” [SmarterTravel]
“Expiring Airline Miles Could Cost Consumers $28 Billion”