Inheriting a Deceased Loved One’s Airline Miles

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After cremations services, you will begin the process of wrapping up your deceased loved one’s final affairs. In addition to making life insurance claims, executing wills, and handling property, debts, and assets, among other things, one of the things you’ll want to add to your to-do list is to check to see if your loved one had miles with one or more airlines.

While airline miles may seem like a trivial matter when it comes to all your deceased loved one’s assets, they may actually be a bigger hidden asset than you think, since airline miles can be used to fly or no cost or to buy goods and services.

Most airlines and credit card companies will not tell you that you are eligible to inherit your deceased loved one’s airline miles. It’s never included in their advertisements or their promotional literature.

Although airline miles technically belong to the airline or credit card company that offers them, they are still an asset that your deceased loved one earned. Therefore, there should not be any reason why you can’t contact the airlines and the credit card companies and asked them to transfer the airline miles to your own account.

Obviously, you will probably have to have a copy of your loved one’s death certificate to have your request approved. With some airlines and credit card companies, you may have to do a lot of follow-up and be assertive about the fact that your deceased loved one’s airline miles are assets that should belong to their estate, and, therefore, are inheritable.

Some airlines are very willing to transfer airline miles from a deceased airline miles customer to their family members. Alaska Airlines, for example, requires only a copy of your deceased loved one’s death certificate and their Mileage Plan membership number to transfer their airline miles to you.

Other airlines and credit card companies are not as helpful up front. However, you should call the airline or credit card company directly (don’t try to do this through emails or online chats) and talk with a representative.

Most of the companies do have unwritten inheritance policies that are subject to the companies’ discretionary application of their “exceptions” clause. What this means in practice is that if you are respectful when making your request, the customer service representative has the ability to transfer your loved one’s airline miles to your account.

If you have a lot of airline miles yourself, you might want to go ahead and think about how you want them transferred to a family member after you die. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Loyalty program exchange sites ( is a good example) are expressly set up to allow you to transfer points or miles to another frequent flyer or rewards program account, so you may be able to transfer your airline miles this way.
  • Some credit card companies such as American Express let you earn miles on several different airlines. The points don’t expire and they can be transferred to any of the frequent flyer programs within Amex’s group at any time. To avoid having to deal with inheritance issues altogether, you can simply set up a joint credit card account with the family member that you want to inherit the airline miles and they will automatically be entitled to use them when you die.
  • Be sure that either your executor or the family member that you want to receive your airline miles has access to your online rewards program account.

When you need of the cremations services we offer, you can depend on our compassionate and experienced team at Hopler & Eschbach Funeral Home to help you. You can visit our funeral home at 483 Chenango St., Binghamton, NY 13901, or you can call us today at (607) 722-4023.