By George Hobica Airfarewatchdog.com
Airline frequent flyer miles are a valuable asset, just like any other "currency" you accumulate. But what happens when the owner dies or gets divorced? It may not be a big deal if there are only a few thousand miles in the account, but if there are hundreds of thousands of miles that could translate into thousands of dollars in free airfare.
So can frequent flyer miles be inherited or figure in a divorce settlement, and are there any costs involved in transferring them? It depends on the airline. Some airlines refuse to transfer miles to a survivor, while others permit it. We've prepared a chart showing how the major U.S. airlines deal with mile inheritance.
What if an airline doesn't permit miles to be inherited? There's a fairly simple solution that many survivors use, although it may be against airline rules (and for that reason, ahem, we are not recommending it): make sure you know the number and password of the deceased's frequent flyer account. Anyone can use miles to obtain award seats for another person. If you don't tell the airline that the account holder has died, you can help yourself to his or her miles post mortem until the miles are used up.
On the Internet, no one knows you're dead.
More on frequent flyer miles: