Frequent-flyer joint account


Many years ago, my husband and I acquired a United Airlines MasterCard for which we paid $60 per year and which accumulated many frequent-flyer miles, which we used as needed. We each had a credit card, but all charges, no matter which credit card was used, went to just one bill, so it was basically just one account and we paid just one $60 charge per year.

In January ’06 my husband, sadly, passed away, and in March I contacted United to have the 116,048 miles remaining in my husband’s frequent-flyer account transferred to the more than 33,000 miles in my account.

In early April I was advised that if I sent a copy of my husband’s death certificate, had the executor/trustee of his estate sign a form AND sent a $75 “processing fee,” they would transfer the miles to my account. I was outraged by the $75 fee, since we had jointly earned these miles, had been married over 53 years and both charged things to the account, using whichever credit card was handy at the time.

On April 16, I sent the required items, including the check, then wrote to Glenn Tilton, CEO of United Airlines, protesting the further charge of $75 and telling him that I thought it was a despicable way of bilking widows. I heard nothing from Mr. Tilton or his office and wrote again on May 21, which is about the time I received notification that my husband’s miles had been transferred to my account.

On June 7, I received a letter from someone in United’s Customer Relations department saying that my complaint had been transferred to the Mileage Plus Customer Relations team, who ultimately sent me a letter expressing “sorrow” for my loss but refusing to refund the $75. Instead, they sent me a travel voucher in that amount, which, of course, could be used only on United or their partner airlines for plane fare. The voucher expired one month from the date I received it.

I sent the voucher back to the Mileage Plus people telling them I had no use for it and wanted my $75 returned, whereupon they sent it back to me suggesting that maybe a family member or friend could use it. It arrived in my mail on July 20, the very day the certificate expired!

I have returned the certificate to the Mileage Plus office and have heard nothing more to date.

JEANNE ISAACMAN
Jenkintown, PA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to United Airlines (Box 66100, Chicago, IL 60666) and received no reply.