Ask Randy: More answers about the Delta-Northwest merger

— -- These are tumultuous times for frequent fliers, as struggling airlines continue to add new fees and restrictions to their loyalty programs. So we've invited frequent-flier expert Randy Petersen to take your queries and offer advice on how to make the most of your miles. Here are some recent queries; join him in his ongoing forum to post one of your own or help answer a question from a fellow reader.

Reader NbyNW: Allied to the merging of frequent flyer programs is the memberships in Crown Clubs and World Clubs. I have a lifetime membership in World Clubs. Crown Clubs only shows annual memberships on its website. I'm worried I'll be left high and dry when the clubs merge — that my lifetime membership won't be honored.

Randy Petersen:Good question and one that has a high value interest.

Here's some history in a similar situation and then I'll give you my best guess and advice.

When American Airlines acquired TWA back in 2001, there were a number of TWA passengers that had lifetime membership in the TWA Ambassador's Club airport lounge program. At that time, American did not honor the lifetime memberships, instead giving complimentary Admiral's Club membership for about 20 months and thereafter giving those same members a preferred annual renewal rate. If the future follows history, then this is likely to be bad news for you and others.

Now, having said that, my research tells me that WorldClubs do not have that many "lifetime" members such as yourself, whereas TWA had a large number of lifetime members. If my research is correct, then I would guess that Delta will elect to add in a manual process of renewing annually your former WorldClub membership into the Crown Room program. I say this because again, there are not that many members and Delta may view this as not worth the potential PR and legal issues that can come out of this type of situation, or at least that would be my advice to them.

With the Internet being an even more valuable soapbox to such issues than it was in 2001 when the American/TWA transaction was taking place, I am positive that you'd find others willing to protect your lifetime, not the lifetime membership of the WorldClubs.

I'll continue to watch this and other details relative to this pending merger. Again, good question with high value.

Reader asawchak: Currently, Platinum benefits include being able to access Continental, Delta and NWA's airport clubs. Any idea how that will change. Also, how does the merger affect their Alliance with Continental?

Randy Petersen:You almost got me on this question. I actually wrote a long dissertation thinking you were referring to the Platinum Medallion level of Delta SkyMiles which formerly included airport lounge access but just before I submitted my reply, I realized that you might, just maybe, be referring to the Platinum card from American Express. So, I'm going to take that chance!

The good news is that the NWA/DL lounges will all consolidate into the Delta Crown Room folio, though as one might expect, there may be a closing of an overlap lounge or two. The combined DL airport lounges will remain in the American Express Platinum program, as well the Continental President's Club lounges, despite these two airlines no longer having an alliance (once the merger closes and Continental joins the Star Alliance).

There's one nice benefit of the American Express card in that it is alliance-blind. The card establishes relationships good for the cardmember. Case in point, while NWA and the WorldClubs belong to the Platinum card program, the NWA WorldPerks frequent flier program is not a partner, though it will become one under the merger with Delta. Strange bedfellows, as we might say.

Hope this does answer your question and I do hope you really meant the American Express Platinum Card rather than the Platinum Medallion level with Delta SkyMiles. If not, let me know and I'll start all over.

Reader justpicky02: Why don't you give some miles away to those who can't afford to travel Or people who really in need. I could take 100,000 off your hands >LOL But it cost money just to give them away from what I read. I have 15,800 trying to get 10,000 to take a decent vacation or 50,000 to hawaii, my dream.

Randy Petersen:My experience is that every frequent flier I ever met was really "one in need."

Say, why not post up the program you have your 15,800 miles with and a little about your travel, your credit card choices and spending habits and I'll see what I can do with a little "Mileage Makeover" and see if we really can get you to the extra 10,000 miles you need. Might be kind of fun and please don't reveal any personal details, just the general things so I can craft some advice for you.

Read more about the effects of the Delta-Northwest merger on frequent-flier miles in Randy Petersen's special " Help Desk" forum.