When You Don’t Get the Air Miles You’re Owed

The ABC News Fixer helps an editor get the miles he’s owed.

THE ABC NEWS FIXER— -- Don Sincell is a fourth-generation newspaper editor in western Maryland. Putting out the paper costs a lot of money, but Don links his business credit card to his airline miles account, which earns him a nice travel perk.

That is, until his airline miles disappeared.

Read Don’s original letter to the ABC News Fixer below, and see how The Fixer helped get his miles back. And check out The Fixer’s tips for earning free travel with credit cards.

Do YOU have a consumer problem? Maybe The Fixer can help! Submit your problems at ABCNews.com/fixer.

Dear ABC News Fixer:

About nine months ago, I noticed the miles generated by my primary business card were not going into my account. With a couple of phone calls, I learned the problem was not with American Airlines, but with the card issuer.

I have called Barclaycard repeatedly to try to straighten this out. Each time, I am assured that the lost miles -- earned from September 2015 through June 2016 -- will be restored, but they never are. The total is about 90,000 miles, representing $90,000 spent on that card.

I am at the end of my rope. I have spoken with supervisor after supervisor, to absolutely no avail. I would so appreciate any and all help.

-Don SincellMountain Lake Park, Md.

Do you have a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

Dear Don:

You told the ABC News Fixer that you’re earning all those miles through business expenses for the community newspaper you run: The Republican of Garrett County, Md.

The paper has been in your family since your great-grandfather became editor and publisher in 1890 (the paper was founded in 1877 by Capt. James Hayden, a huge fan of Abraham Lincoln – thus the name “The Republican”).

As the paper’s fourth editor after your great-grandfather, grandfather and father, you’re counted on to cover every aspect of your community – but you said you also find time to be a volunteer firefighter, ski patroller, town council member and a trombone player in the community band.

We can only imagine how badly you must need a vacation.

And those missing miles are worth about three cross-country round trips.

The Fixer had a little better luck nudging this toward resolution.

By the time you wrote your letter, you had managed to get this business credit card connected to your American Airlines account. But even though the customer service representatives told you they could see the missing miles in their computer system, the miles stayed in a black hole.

We contacted Barclaycard and asked them to investigate. Within a few days, they had restored your 94,198 points and posted them to your account. They’re also giving you 20,000 more miles for your troubles.

It seems that somehow in that transition, an error occurred in the data field containing your name.

This wasn’t apparent to the customer service people you spoke to, so while they were promising it would get fixed, they weren’t able to request the right steps to fix it. (And if all this gives you a headache, you’re not alone.)

At any rate, they found it, they fixed it, and you’re good to take another couple trips.

As for the rest of us, here’s some advice to get the most out of your airline miles:

—First, be ready for anything. Open accounts with all the major airlines, hotel groups and rental car companies – so whichever company you use, you’ll be earning points.

—Choose the right credit card to earn points or miles. Look for big sign-up bonuses. Decide whether you want to earn on one airline that you use the most – or get a card that earns points for many different airlines.

—Whenever you spend money, think points! Many airlines have dining and shopping programs that are free to join. You can register any credit card, and as you eat and shop you can be earning points.

—Set a goal so you know what you’re saving for and when you’ll get it.

—Keep good track of your points. There are lots of online tools and you can try free versions to see which works best for you.

-The ABC News Fixer

Do you have a consumer problem? Contact The ABC News Fixer at www.ABCNews.com/fixer. Letters are edited for length and clarity.