Update: See the bottom of this post for newer information.
I’ve been having an ongoing bad experience with U.S. Airways over their Dividend Miles. I’d accumulated about 15,000 miles with them and the miles were about to expire. I didn’t have any trips coming up, so I looked for a way to redeem those frequent flyer miles before they expired. U.S. Airways provided a way to subscribe to magazine and newspapers using miles — great! I signed up to get a bunch of magazines and dutifully waited the several weeks that it would take for magazines to start showing up. But instead of newspapers and magazines, I started to get little white post cards back in the mail. The first one let me know that I wouldn’t be getting The Economist:
Bummer. Then I found out that I wouldn’t be getting the Wall Street Journal:
Bigger bummer. But after a while, I started to notice a trend. See if you can tell what the trend was:
That’s right — not a single magazine or newpaper showed up. Instead, eight different times I was told that an “overwhelming response” meant that title wasn’t available.
So where do things stand now? Well, in the 4-10 weeks that I had to wait for the subscriptions to start, those 15,000 frequent flier miles expired. I can’t try to subscribe to any other magazines or even donate the miles to charity at this point.
To add a cherry on top, I keep getting emails from U.S. Airways, which apparently can’t understand why I would let my miles expire and would be happy to sign me up for a credit card to resurrect those miles from the dead:
You know what, U.S. Airways? Just keep the miles. Or better yet, if anyone from the U.S. Airways Dividend Miles program sees this post and wants to do something nice, please donate those miles to charity.
If you fly with U.S. Airways, be aware that redeeming miles for magazine/newspaper subscriptions might not work as well as you’d like. And will I be avoiding 321mags.com (which now redirects to magazineoutlet.com) in the future? Yes, I will be avoiding them.
Update: Some new developments have happened since I wrote this blog post. US Airways wrote the day after I blogged to apologize for a bad experience, said that they’d investigate what happened, and then they reinstated the miles. That’s about as much as I could ask for, and I appreciate their response. I donated the miles to charity.
A couple days later, the vendor for the “Magazines for Miles” program contacted me. They said that when they verified the zip code for the magazines with the zip code on file with the airline, it didn’t match, so the order was sent to the airline for verification. When US Airways confirmed my address, the vendor re-processed the order. But then by the time the order reached US Airways for decrementing, the miles had already expired, so the order was cancelled. Due to a different glitch, the cancellation notice implied that the magazine inventory wasn’t available. The magazine vendor offered to send the magazines now, but I declined. I’d already donated the miles to charity and that’s enough to resolve the situation in my mind.
As a software engineer, I can easily imagine this happening. I guess the takeaway as a flier would be to use your miles before they get too close to expiring.