Tips

What Happens to Your Airline Miles When You Die?

Anthony Bourdain reportedly left his frequent-flier miles to his wife. Are they an asset you should make plans for?
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES/ ANYABERKUT
Comments

Following Anthony Bourdain's death on June 8, it was reported that the celebrity chef included an unusual proviso in his will: he left his frequent-flier miles to his wife.

Bourdain, according to Page Six, bequeathed his miles to Ottavia Busia-Bourdain and asked her "to dispose of [them] in accordance with what [she] believes to have been my wishes." The will was written in 2016, shortly before the couple separated.

Are frequent flier miles an asset for which you should make plans, just like securities or real estate? Is it really possible to bequeath one's airline miles? The answer, it turns out, is that it depends on the airline and credit card company.

Here's how a few of the major U.S. airlines handle miles transfers:

AMERICAN


TRANSFERS ALLOWED: YES

American has a policy stating that "mileage credit is not transferable and may not be combined among AAdvantage members, their estates, successors or assigns. Accrued mileage credit and award tickets do not constitute property of the member. Neither accrued mileage, nor award tickets, nor status, 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."

But it goes on to say that the airline "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."

DELTA


TRANSFERS ALLOWED: NO

The SkyMiles Program Rules state that "Miles are not the property of any Member" and go on to say that "miles may not be sold, attached, seized, levied upon, pledged, or transferred under any circumstances, including, without limitation, by operation of law, upon death, or in connection with any domestic relations dispute and/or legal proceeding."

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW


Only certain airlines allow frequent-flier miles transfers after death.

JETBLUE


TRANSFERS ALLOWED: YES (BUT NOT AFTER DEATH)

"Accrued Points and Award Travel do not constitute property of Member and are non-transferable (i) upon death, (ii) as part of a domestic relations matter, or (iii) otherwise," JetBlue's policy reads. However, travelers can use the airline's family pooling feature to combine TrueBlue points as a family.

UNITED


TRANSFERS ALLOWED: YES

United will transfer miles—it even has a program dedicated to it. Mileage transfers cost $7.50 per 500 miles, plus a processing fee of $30 per transaction, according to the airline. A United agent told the Points Guy that in cases of death, "the typical transfer fees may be waived, subject to the airline’s approval after the required documentation has been submitted."

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

Comments
About The Author
Sam Dangremond
View Other Articles From Sam Dangremond
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
The newly crowned Miss Universe makes her first stop at her hometown of Albay.
 
Share
The classic liquor brands and essential mixology gear for the most stylish home bar.
 
Share
The Duchess of Sussex brought holiday cheer to the Royal Variety Charity's residential nursing and care home.
 
Share
The Duchess of Sussex looked lovely this morning at the Royal Variety Charity's residential nursing and care home.
 
Share
If you reuse a tree for several years, it's more environmentally responsible than chopping down a new fir each year.
 
Share
It's just one of many traditions popularized by the 19th-century royals.
 
Share
We've made a playlist that will have everyone from your grandma to your groomsmen getting their groove on.
 
Share
You can't control flight delays, but you can plan the best possible outfit to tackle the journey.
 
Share
These jars of gourmet goodness will add joy to your holiday table.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US