You Think Expiring Miles Are Bad? The PROGRAM That Expires Has Extended 16 Months

Some programs have expiring miles (for instance, miles earned today will expire in 3 years if unused). Other programs have expiring accounts (accounts will become inactive if there’s no earning or redemption within 18 or 36 months). In either case, activity in your account can extend the life of your miles or in the extreme only some of your miles will expire on a given date.

One airline has had a policy far more draconian than either of those things.

Alitalia MilleMiglia doesn’t have expiring miles. They have an expiring program.

Alitalia is a quite useful American Express transfer partner but the expiring program was a real reason not to transfer points speculatively, only points you’re going to use in the immediate term.

Each Alitalia accrual program is separate. Even totally active accounts used to lose all the miles when the program ends, although Alitalia offers a mechanism to extend the miles (really, to credit miles from the previous program to the new program). That’s required, in the past, flights credited to the new program within a specified period of time.

Their current program was set to expire December 31, 2015. Instead in December they announced:

  • The program won’t expire until August 2016

  • When the program does expire and the new program is introduced, all miles will be transferred to the new program without members having to do anything.

Next month the program was set to expire, but members could keep their miles. However the program isn’t going to expire, it’s being extended through December 31, 2017.

On the other hand — who cases, they’ve promised not to expire miles when the program expires. On the other hand, what I read into this is that the new program isn’t ready.

Instead of replacing one program with a substantially similar equivalent, Alitalia as part of Etihad’s equity partner airlines, has been working on a single new platform which will include additional frequent flyer program integration. And that project has been progressing slowly (such that full details aren’t even announced yet). This seems reasonably likely to a function of that IT project delay.

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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  1. It could also be a function of Italian tax laws…. the parameters of the program (like, having an end date) could change how the revenues/liabilities are recorded, which affects their corporate tax rate

  2. Thanks. Does Alitalia charge YQ? Would you transfer MR points into Delta or AlItalia for a TATL flight on Alitalia (I used sky miles when I flew them)

  3. Over the decades we’ve had several cases of expiring AIRLINES. They don’t need an expiring program when they’re going to shut down whole airline!

  4. It’s a function of various Italian laws. For example, Alitalia can’t change its mileage charts or terms and conditions once the program has begun. It has to scrap the program and create a new one (although the miles can transfer). This is as good as Alitalia saying there won’t be any devals for the next 16 months.

  5. U.S. program charts EXPIRE at the airlines whim and mostly with no advance notice every few.months.

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