Can I Earn Miles When I Get Rebooked on Another Carrier?

Jun 5, 2016

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TPG reader Allisa sent me a message on Facebook to ask about earning miles:

“My family booked a trip to Hawaii on United, but at check-in we were rebooked on Delta. That worked out fine since our original flight was delayed, but we didn’t earn any miles or elite credits for the Delta leg. Should I be able to get credit for that flight?”

Delays, cancellations and missed connections are a routine part of domestic air travel. Fortunately, passengers do have rights in those situations, and it’s not unusual to be rebooked on a competing airline when your original carrier is at fault. This can help you avoid further delays, especially on flights that involve multiple stops. On top of that, you should still be able to claim any rewards you would have earned on the itinerary you paid for, even if it’s not the one you ultimately flew.

All you have to do is contact the carrier you booked with (United in this case) and request what’s known as an original routing credit. If you know your ticket number, you can file a request online (look in the Contact section on United.com). Otherwise, you can call customer service and ask an agent to issue miles and elite credits manually. This only works when you’ve been involuntarily rebooked; however, you can still request original routing credit even if that rebooking happens to work out in your favor (as it did for Allisa and her family).

In some cases, you may even be eligible to earn rewards from the airline you actually flew (Delta), which creates a nice opportunity for double-dipping. In that case you’d be requesting a simple mileage credit rather than an original routing credit. Each airline has its own rules about receiving credit for past flights, so make sure to file your request within the allotted time.

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You may be able to earn miles for both the flight you paid for and the one you actually took.

Getting your original miles might not seem like a big deal on shorter flights, but it can make all the difference later in the year if you’re working toward airline elite status. By making sure you get credit for the flights you booked, you might save yourself from having to scramble to hit qualification thresholds at the last minute.

For more on how to handle airport snafus, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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