Mileage audits… on the rise?

This morning’s New York Times carries a piece by Christopher Elliott on airline audits of frequent flyer accounts. Suspicious activity can cause an airline to freeze an account and investigate.

The piece suggests that audits are on the rise, but provides no evidence of this other than that audits happen. It speculates that airline financial problems have spurred more audits, but I know of no carrier that sees auditing of accounts as a meaningful new revenue source.

Instead, if audits are becoming more common it’s likely due to technology. If you don’t provide your frequent flyer number on an airline reservation at booking, and then after the flight submit the boarding passes to the airline you flew as well as their partners, the various carriers are much more likely to catch that now than they would have been in years past. Or if you start redeeming a bunch of international business class tickets all of a sudden, and they’re in a whole bunch of different names other than yours, then computers might flag this as suspicious — suggesting that you might be selling awards to a mileage broker.

The July 2003 issue of Inside Flyer carried a piece (subscription required) on mileage account audits, what kinds of activity trigger them, and how to avoid them.

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, 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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