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Alaska Air Steals 150k worth of miles from me
Long time lurker of the site — I’ve been following Lucky for the past few years but never felt the need to create an account up until now though because I felt it was my duty to report this so that no other people get screwed by Alaska Air like I did.
I read a few threads on flyertalk where some Australian person gets his account closed because he bought miles and there was some influx of fraudulant people buying accounts and committing credit card fraud, so his account was closed as well.
I’m not from Australia. I live in New York City. I’ve had my Alaska Mileage Plan open for 2+ years. I’ve flown them ~3-4 times in the last year for short haul stops from the Pacific Northwest all over the West Coast.
I also hoard SPG points. I do a lot of traveling and am able to accumulate SPG points and they’re most flexible for me since my travels came me to many different continents. As SPG points take a few days to transfer, I maintain enough points in a few of my favorite mileage plans to book at least 1 round-trip J or F award.
I recently transferred over another 75k points so that I could book a personal trip to Asia later this year.
Shortly after I saw the points were in my account, I called to make the Cathay Pacific booking, and then they notified me that something was wrong with me account, and I had to call customer service. I did so, and the representative was very stand-offish with me and said that they needed me to verify my account information with an official piece of recognized US ID documentation.
Despite her rudeness, I complied and faxed in my passport. After they got that, they then said they need my Driver’s license and address. I caved and gave in to their demands and emailed that in as well. They said they could not accept it, and that my account could not be verified. Incredulous, I called back and I offered them a utility bill, confirmation that I still have control of my email address, on top of having control of the number that’s on my account. I told the person I spoke to that frankly it was a bit ridiculous that they are not able to identify me with the pieces of information I’ve given them. Then she snaps at me, “It’s our right to terminate your account as we see fit. This is a mileage loyalty program, you are not using it as a frequent flyer.”
All I could think while she was talking was the fact that their loyalty program is called MILEAGE plan, and indeed it was a mileage currency I was very loyal to because I transferred probably ~500k of miles to it, mainly for booking Cathay J or F travel to Asia for the rates. I found it mildly amusing that she seems to think that Alaska seems to gain no benefit from selling miles to SPG etc given the fact that Citi basically saved AA from bankruptcy filings with their purchase of a billion AA points. Ignoring the amount they were able to sell 500k miles to SPG on my behalf vs AA because their Cathay J to Asia is 5k miles less just seems to confirm the fact that their loyalty program was working.
Anyway, I asked to speak to her supervisor and she dodged the question until finally she said that a supervisor would call me and discuss the issue with me.
I received no such call. Finally after a few days, today I got an email from another random name who uses the same email their support team shares:
Thank you for calling Alaska Airlines.
Your account is now closed. Our Mileage plans are personal accounts for our
travelers, and your’s is not being used as such.
Then she links me to the Terms & Conditions, which basically say they’re allowed to close your account as they see fit.
Yes I know every program has these powers in their T&C, but I don’t know of any others who would reward their users with such arbitrary bans. It’s a shame too, I actually enjoyed many aspects of their MileagePlan, but I am writing this now to warn any other people who have the same type of earning habits as me to beware that they will disable your account if you transfer in too many miles.
Wow, that is crazy. I hope some of the experts on this blog have some advice for you. I’ve heard of Chase closing people’s UR accounts for MS, but closing a frequent flier account for transferring in points in using a completely legal method and then using those points in a completely legal manner.