Alaska Airlines Says Miles No Longer Expire, But Their Program Terms Actually Say Otherwise

Alaska Airlines has eliminated miles expiration. Accounts used to go inactive (therefore expiring miles) after 24 miles without earning or redeeming their points. Now accounts go inactive but can be reactivated with all of your points restored for free – as long as you do it within a year. I missed this last wrinkle when first looking at the change, and it means account expiration in 3 years of true inactivity.

Do my miles expire?

Mileage Plan miles do not expire

If miles don’t expire, does that mean my account will remain active indefinitely?

For account security purposes, we will continue to lock accounts that have been inactive for more than 2 years. If your account has been locked due to inactivity, call Guest Care to verify your identity, and they’ll reactivate the account for you. All miles in the account will still be there for you to use.

Alaska – which famously did not pause mileage expiration for the first two years of the pandemic – joins Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest in no longer expiring miles. American Airlines remains an outlier, with miles expiring after 24 months of inactivity for members 21 years old or older. However, according to the Mileage Plan program terms, miles sort of do expire – because if you don’t reactive your account within a year (for free) they may not be willing to re-active your account at all.

If a deactivated Mileage Plan account is not reactivated within 1 year after deactivation (3 years after your last qualifying activity), it may not be reactivated in the future, and all Mileage Plan miles previously associated with that account will be forfeited.

When miles expire, airlines remove liability from their books and recognize revenue. Eliminating expiration of miles imposes a cost on the program. Engaged members may prefer a regime where miles expire – if a program is willing to invest a certain amount in members they’d rather the investments be with them than occasional members.

Increasingly expiration of miles makes little sense for programs that want to interact with infrequent transactors, relying less on heavy flyers who also spend on a co-brand and purchase through a shopping portal. Expiring miles is a way to cut ties with infrequent customers, so the move – following most other U.S. carriers – is unsurprising.

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