“Sooner or later, many of us will be faced with the possibility of bequeathing or inheriting frequent flyer miles. We found that policies governing the transfer of miles vary from airline to airline, and some airlines flatly state on their websites that miles cannot be transferred upon death, but that’s actually not true,” said Airfarewatchdog founder George Hobica.

Airfarewatchdog(TM) today published Inheriting Miles: Airline Rules & Procedures, a chart (with accompanying research) that details the myriad of airline carrier policies around inheriting and transferring frequent flyer miles. In response to Airfarewatchdog research that revealed a conflict between airlines’ printed policies and those quoted from frequent flyer service desks, Airfarewatchdog founder George Hobica says the chart is long overdue.

Some highlights from Inheriting Miles: Airline Rules & Procedures:

– American Airlines requires a copy of the pages of the will which identify the decedent, the executor, or representative’s name and a page showing the date of execution and signature of the maker – among other rules. A fee of US$50 is charged when transferring more than 10,000 miles.

– Continental Airlines requires a death certificate and a letter from the executor authorizing the transfer of miles to the inheriting member. No transfer fee.

– Delta Airlines needs an affidavit filled out by the executor and a letter (if more than one heir) from all beneficiaries is needed to distribute miles. No transfer fee.

– United Airlines needs a form that the service center sends to the inheritor, along with a death certificate and proof of beneficiary. Transfer fee is US$75, regardless of accumulated mileage.

Hobica says that inheritors need to read the fine print. “As if losing a loved one isn’t bad enough, if that person dies and you’re his or her spouse, some of these airlines make you pay a fee to inherit frequent flyer miles. And these rules often conflict with what you’ll hear if you call the airlines’ frequent flyer desks.”