Points and miles are still a bit of a game for me. There are times where I’ve been able to book trips for myself and my family that we otherwise would never have been able to take. Miles and points make the impossible possible at times. They are there when I don’t want to spend any money.

But they have real value. I’m one of those who tries to optimize the value of any redemption. So losing points hurts. Bad.

Even though I am richer than ever points-wise, I managed to lose a whopping 51,000 Avios over the past year. Here’s how.

Maybe Booking Speculative Trips Isn’t the Best Idea

When I started to plan out a trip to Kosovo to visit friends of mine, putting together the pieces was challenging. Finding itineraries where I was confident I would be able to fly based on COVID-19 restrictions was the main hurdle.

Luckily, airline award flexibility has never been better. In some cases, I was willing to lock something in even if it meant paying a bit to get miles redeposited. In other cases, redeposits were completely free.

Along the way I ended up booking an Iberia business class itinerary from Madrid to San Francisco. It cost 51,000 Avios and about €120 in taxes and fees. I thought I’d be able to plug together an itinerary with a connection through MAD later.

Except I didn’t. I found another, much better option. And then I completely forgot to cancel. Whoops.

a man holding his head

Iberia doesn’t offer award refunds for no-shows. And this one is now months in the past. I might still consider calling. But I can’t imagine they will have any grace. The one thing that might save me is if I am able to go back through the flight history and see if that particular flight actually operated or not. I never received any updates after booking.

Final Thoughts

The only reason I realized my mistake is because I went to go move the Avios back to my British Airways Executive Club account. This is where I keep all my miles unless I need them for something. The zero Iberia Avios balance was the tip-off. A brief scan of the account history confirmed my mistake.

This officially goes down as the largest loss of miles. Valuing Avios at 1.5 cents each, I lost $750 in travel. These are points I’ve been sittting on for literally years, too. Hopefully this remains the worst loss.

Have you ever lost a nice stash of points or miles due to an error like mine?