Airline point and mile collection may be overwhelming with all the different rules and applications the airlines apply. And it may be hard to understand the separate airline system or know how long it will take to earn enough miles for a free flight. One way to earn a lot of miles at once is to earn big sign-up bonuses from the best credit cards for travel, but did you know that you can also earn miles for flights you’re already taken? Many airlines will even let you earn miles on flights taken a year ago.
If you’re new to the process of earning miles and points, you’ll need to sign-up for airline frequent flyer accounts. These accounts are usually free, and you should sign-up with the airlines you’ve used in the last twelve months and any you plan to use in the future.
After the account is made, your past flights will be listed. If it’s been awhile since your flight, it won’t be in your history, and you’ll have to request that it be credited to your frequent flyer account. To do this, you’ll need to provide both your ticket number and your frequent flyer membership number. Some airlines may also ask for a copy of your boarding pass.
Each airline has its own policy on how long you can request credit. There is a table below that briefly describes the policies of major American airline companies.
|AIRLINE||DURATION OF TIME AFTER TRAVEL TO REQUEST CREDIT||REQUIRED MEMBERSHIP AT TIME OF FLIGHT|
|ALASKA AIRLINES||11 Months||Yes|
|AMERICAN AIRLINES||12 Months||No, but must have joined within 30 days of the flight|
|DELTA AIRLINES||9 Months||No|
|FRONTIER AIRLINES||180 Days||No|
|HAWAIIAN AIRLINES||120 Days||No|
|JET BLUE AIRWAYS||12 Months||No|
|SOUTHWEST AIRLINES||12 Months||No|
|SPIRIT AIRLINES||30 Days||No|
|UNITED AIRLINES||12 Months||No, but must have joined within 30 days of the flight, or pay a $50 fee to request flights taken up to 6 months before joining|
You’ll usually be able to get credit for partner flights (booking a flight through one airline for travel on another). The same process and links can be used to request credit for these flights.
You can also request miles if you already have frequent flyer accounts and you forgot to enter your membership number when booking. However, much like when requesting credit with a new account, each airline has its own policy, and you’ll have to check to make sure your flight qualifies.