Even I make a rookie mistake sometimes!

Currently Japan Air Lines’ frequent flyer program is offering discounted award redemptions on their new partner Bangkok Airways. It is based on total distance of your trip and starts at only 5,000 miles round trip for flights that total under 1000 flown miles. I needed some domestic Thailand flights for my upcoming trip so I jumped on this deal. I was looking at getting around 5 cents per mile in value even in coach!

JAL MileageBank is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). I transferred 10,000 SPG points to MileageBank as I intended to redeem them for 2 round trip tickets for myself and a friend. It took about a week for my miles to show up. Once they were available in my account I called JAL MileageBank to begin search for flights and book my ticket.

Then I hit a major roadblock. In my haste I didn’t read the rules of JAL MileageBank. You can only redeem miles for family. Now the 10,000 miles I have there are “stuck” until I figure out something else to do with them. I ended up buying a very cheap cash fare on Air Asia instead of redeeming miles for me and buying my friend’s ticket. It was actually cheaper to buy 2 tickets so we can be on the same flights.

Lesson learned: make sure you understand the rules of a program before transferring points. I would much rather have my 10,000 SPG points back so I can use them for something else later but that is no longer an option. I will likely use my JAL miles to get a domestic US flight later or possible for Emirates in the future. The miles expire after 3 years so I need to come up with something.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Make sure you read the rules of a new program before you transfer points!

I also want to add that I found the agents at JAL to be very nice and knowledgeable. Apparently award space is wide open on Bangkok Airways as well!