Taking Too Long to Post Points

Chris Elliott writes in the New York Times that miles are taking longer than ever to post to frequent flyer accounts.

That hasn’t been my experience, at least as a general rule. Airlines are getting better at tracking miles for flights. If a frequent flyer number is entered into a reservation in advance, it’s pretty much a certainty that the miles will post. Problems come in when airport agents load the numbers incorrectly, and at times when trying to credit miles to a partner airline’s program.

Delta, flagged by the article as second-worst for posting miles, actually credits member accounts before their flights even lands. Delta’s technology in this area is unmatched.

The real problem comes in with mileage earning partners. As the article observes, rental car companies are notorious for lags and gaps in posting miles. And the sheer volume of partners compared to past years ensures that there will be more posting problems than ever before simply because there are more vendors each separately submitting miles and the posting process becomes infinitely more complex.

Some other vendors are notoriously bad at posting points. Sometimes transactions fall between the cracks. It happens all the time. I’ve personally had real difficulties over time with Goldpoints. There I believe the problem is incompetence rather than ill intentions.

Some other partners offer miles and then seem to make it difficult to claim those miles on purpose, since posting of miles costs them money.

I keep an Excel spreadsheet with the miles I expect to have posted. I log the transaction date, the vendor, what the miles are for, the program, and when I expect the miles to post. I also keep tracking numbers or other information in it as well. And I regularly review the spreadsheet for missing miles, and I follow up mercilessly.

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve is the “6 to 8 weeks” that miles take to post. Or more accurately, that they take not to post. Many vendors post miles right away, in days, but refuse to talk to you until 8 weeks have passed. Then there are the vendors who say 8 to 10 weeks. And the ever offensive rule with American Express bonuses, “12 to 14 weeks.” And in that last case, they really wait until the last minute to post the points. Many travelers forget what the miles were for when they post, if they post. And if they don’t, it’s been so long most members forget. There’s really no excuse.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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