Is selling airmiles illegal?

Old Aug 18th, 2002, 10:25 AM
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Is selling airmiles illegal?

a friend of mine has travelled a couple of times on tickets she bought from a travel agent which purport to be an air miles ticket earned by someone else who "gives" them to you. She was given the name of the "donor" and told that if she were asked how she got the ticket that it was a gift from that person. The tickets are very reasonably priced and I was wondering 1) how valid are they - can an airline refuse to honor them? 2) with heightened security do they present a problem - US domestic travel only?
Old Aug 18th, 2002, 10:35 AM
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I know that people do it all the time. It is against airlines rules to sell them but they would have to prove money changed hands. You have the right to give them away to anyone you want just not sell them. Once ticketed the name of person on the ticket should not have any security problems.
I myself have given friends free tickets and never had a problem. I have even given away tickets we got by being bumped.
Old Aug 25th, 2002, 05:26 AM
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My understanding is that they cnanot be exchanged for other forms of value. FF accounts have been closed resulting from this. I also understand they may deny boarding or charge full fare if the ticket was obtained in violation of the rules.

Gifting is allowed and I've done it many times but only as true gifts.

I consider exchanging/selling of FF miles to be unethical. You know the rules going in.

Old Aug 27th, 2002, 12:06 PM
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never ehard of buying FF miles eitehr, but I would imagine it is illegal. Gifting on the other hadn is no problem. Some airlines have gotten so super careless though. My husband is out of town so I jad not even discuused this with him yet, but I decided to go visit my parents over Labor Day and needed a plane ticket. I called united Airlines last night to get a ticket and all they asked for was the account number and I gave it to them. Mind you , that account isn't even in my name (my husband's) and they ticketed me with no questions asked. The last time I did this about 6 months agao, they told me he had to call in and "purchase" the ticket putting my name on it ultimately as he was the holder of the miles. It scares me that they didn't even question me, didn't ask for my address, husband's SS# or even if the name of the account was my husband! Seems a little to lax for em now!
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 01:31 PM
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Speaking as a OnePass agent, the worst that could happen to your friend is that he/she will be denied boardiing. As long as the passeger's name is on the ticket, there will be no security problems. If the airline found out how she got the tickets, the FF account would be closed and the miles forfeited.

Dick was right. Selling and exchanging miles is unethical and it is fraud, but there are plenty of people out there including travel agents who just want to "stick it" to the airlines in any form they can. Travel agents are not necessarily your friend, even though they find a "loophole" for you. The loophole could fail and the travel agent most likely disavow any knowledge of your existence and would have no problems with leaving you high and dry.

On a side note, just my personal feelings about travel agents. Based on my dealings with them, piracy would best fit their job description. Passengers always talk about how they get screwed by the airlines. Apparently they are lucky enough never to have been (or at least never noticed if they were) gouged by a travel agent. I heard a co-worker the other day telling of how her sister's agent charged $200 more for a ticket than what she would have paid if she contacted the airline herself.
Oh well. I'll get off my box now. Sorry if I rambled. Just remember that they are not your friend.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 02:48 PM
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Beth, I wasn't at all surprised to hear that you had no trouble booking flights thru your husband's FF account. I have no trouble booking flights on my husband's FF accts, even though he died years ago.
Old Aug 29th, 2002, 04:11 PM
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I've often wondered how this works. Airlines rules say that you can give your miles only to family members. How do you get the airline to redeem your miles in a non family members name?
Old Aug 30th, 2002, 02:41 AM
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Regarding redeeming miles for non-family member. We have used miles on several airlines for several family members - with different last names than FF account - so they have no way of knowing if it is family member or not when redeemed. Done this for both upgrades and free tickets. I think the rule about family members has changed - I believe on most you can get a ticket with any passenger name.
Old Aug 30th, 2002, 03:06 AM
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I hae never heard of this rule that you can "only give miles for famly members." It was my understanding that you could not give MILES to anybody, but you could give TICKETS to anyone you want. I have not been questioned when redeeming ff miles for tickets for family members with a different last name.
Old Aug 30th, 2002, 04:54 AM
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Agree with Jen - it is not just a fine point about miles versus tickets - my husband and I (who happen to have different last names) each have FF accounts on same airline and are not able to combine miles from each account - which would be the same as giving miles to someone. I know some charitable organizations (such as Make a Wish) accept donations of miles, but I suspect they have some special arrangement with airline and it is not the same thing.

Back to the original question - it would bother me to do business with a travel agent where I even had a suspicion that they were doing something inappropriate.
Old Aug 31st, 2002, 11:32 AM
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Esther -
"Illegal" in terms of against federal, state or local law - not. "Illegal" in terms of in violation of the terms of the FF program - you betcha. Yes, people do it- you will even see ads in the classifieds soliciting FF tickets and offering cash in exchange. As the previous poster from Continental's OnePass program (best program in the biz, I might add) noted, you may get away with it but the traveler risks being denied boarding and the FF account owner risks having their account closed (and thus losing whatever miles were there) as is clearly spelled out in the terms and conditions of FF programs.
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