Recently I received a letter from United Airlines - that's on top of the seven credit card offers I get from them every week. This specific message notified me that United was changing its frequent flier program such that unused miles expire after 18 months of inactivity in the account. That is, if you have not earned or redeemed miles during any 18 month period, kiss you miles good-bye.
For me this is not a big deal since I fly United for most of my business trips, and I travel frequently. My wife's account is not at risk, since she receives miles for our supermarket purchases at Safeway. However my son's miles are in danger of expiring, since we only fly with him rarely.
This morning I read this article from Money Changes Things, according to which American Airlines is following suit and having miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, instead of 36 months previously. Hey, if you can screw your customers why the hell not, right? I checked American's website, and sure enough the few miles that I have will expire at the end of this year. I very rarely fly on American, so I only have a few thousand miles there. I figured that if they are going away, I might as well spend them, so I signed up for a two year subscription to Business Week at a cost of 2,300 miles.
Just to be on the safe side, I also checked my miles over at Continental. Lo and behold, there is one righteous company among the wicked. Continental miles do not expire (!) although the company reserves the right to add an expiration date to its miles at any time. Strange. I bet this won't last and Continental too will follow its evil brethren.
Anyone knows what other airlines are doing with their frequent flier programs?