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Using your hard-earned points or miles for free flights (especially in premium classes) is a great way to make the most of your redemptions. However, occasionally an airline coding mistake could make this proposition even more lucrative, resulting in an award flight actually earning you miles. Even if you’ve redeemed miles for your ticket, always be sure to add your desired frequent flyer number on the off-chance that the flight credits as a paid fare class.

The first time I encountered this was back in 2013 when a friend received more than 12,000 SkyMiles after an Air France award ticket (booked through Delta) credited as a full-fare business class ticket. The comments section on that post turned into a spirited debate on whether my friend should notify Delta (he didn’t), whether the miles would remain (they did) and whether airlines’ fleecing of customers justified keeping them (jury’s still out). I hadn’t thought much of this until a very similar experience happened to me last year.

After redeeming miles through one Star Alliance program for a flight on a different carrier, I noticed that my family’s last name was spelled wrong. A quick call was all it took to reissue the ticket, but this somehow changed our booking class from I (business class award) to Z (paid business class ticket). Intrigued, I added our United MileagePlus numbers to the reservation during check-in, and lo and behold, the flights posted just as a paid ticket would:

We can debate the moral implications of this type of mistake six ways to Sunday, but the bottom line is that it never hurts to add your frequent flyer number to an award reservation. Worst case scenario is that nothing happens. Best case scenario? You’ll take home an unexpected windfall of miles to help you reach your next free trip.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 & an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 8/8/18.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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