Booking an awesome ticket using your miles is one of the best feelings in the award travel hobby. I’ve specifically used LifeMiles for a number of cases where cash fares were especially egregious. I’ll generally get over 3 cents per LifeMile, even for economy tickets, which is an excellent award value.
But sometimes things don’t go as planned, and tickets must be canceled. Unlike many other airlines, canceling a LifeMiles ticket is not exactly a walk in the park. I don’t consider it especially difficult, but there are a few things of which you should be aware.
LifeMiles Cancellation Fees
For short haul domestic economy tickets booked with Lifemiles, you’re looking at $50 to cancel. You’re also not refunded the $25 booking fee, so you’re really out $75, all said and done. At least most other airlines that do charge “close-in” fees will still refund you these, should you cancel. With LifeMiles, the award redemption fee is nonrefundable from the start. It’s a bit frustrating, but that’s how it works. lifemiiles
For long-haul business or first class, the cancellation fee increases to $200, which is painful. But if you really need to cancel a long haul first class ticket to Asia, spending $200 to get your 90,000 LifeMiles back is worth it. I value 90,000 LifeMiles at $1,800.
For other tickets, the LifeMiles cancellation fee may land between $50 and $200 per ticket, depending on the route and class of service. These are much worse than the old LifeMiles cancellation fees, which was simply $50. The change fee per ticket is $150.
Calling to Cancel a LifeMiles Award Ticket
To cancel a LifeMiles award ticket, you unfortunately need to call LifeMiles at 800-284-2622 in the U.S. In an age where everything can be done online (and sometimes simply via Twitter!), this is annoying. However, make sure you first set up a PIN for your online LifeMiles account. I was not aware of this requirement before calling, which ended up making the whole endeavor useless. Supposedly, you can do this on the phone, but the agent gave me no option to do so. I highly suggest setting it online, as it is quick and easy.
For both cancellation calls, agents picked up very quickly. Other LifeMiles experiences have included being on hold for extended periods of time, including my horror story of a LifeMiles refund. To start the cancellation process, you’ll need to provide the booking reference and confirm passenger and account information.
Then its onto paying the cancellation fee. The LifeMiles payment system is totally wonky. You’ll be asked the weirdest things. Like the city you’re calling from. And the issuing bank of the card you used. It’s bizarre. They have some other department that processes payments, so even if the information goes through and says it is successful, it may not be successful. That’s at least the impression I was left with.
The agent will transfer you to their automated system to enter credit card data. You’ll be prompted for the typical card information, including card number, expiration, and security code. Each ticket will be processed separately, which is a bit frustrating. You’ll have to reenter much of the data.
The other wrinkle is the quoted time for receiving your taxes back is 30-90 days. Thirty to ninety. No joke. This is ridiculous. However, in my experience, the refund hits the card in 1-2 weeks. The miles typically are refunded within just a couple days.
It is always unfortunate when you need to cancel an award ticket. I wish LifeMiles made things easier. But, hey, if things were easy, it wouldn’t really be a true LifeMiles experience! They are still one of my favorite programs for both short-haul domestic flights on United Airlines and for long-haul business and first class. There are a lot of idiosyncrasies to understand about the program, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before following a blogger’s advice to buy LifeMiles during one of their excellent sales. At least now you know how to cancel a LifeMiles award ticket should your plans change.