Frequent Flyer Miles

I would argue these are generally divisible. The exception would be a business traveler who is required to use these miles as a part of his employment. In this context, the miles may belong to the employer. Janice Cunningham, in her article in the 2001 Special Edition of the Family Law Journal, "An Asset By Any Other Name", suggests the miles are divisible and points to Lesko v. Lesko, 184 Mich App 395 (1995) to this end. I agree with the conclusion but disagree that Lesko sheds much light on the divisibility of frequent flyer miles, though her argument by analogy is reasonable.

Some companies will allow transfer of frequent flyer miles based upon a court order 9maybe American Airlines), but some may not (probably Northwest Airlines), and this appears to be a fluid area. Ms. Cunningham points out there may be fees involved in any transfer. Assuming transfer is practicable, this would seem the most logical way to divide miles, but it may be a lot more trouble than the process is worth. Valuation is likely to be simpler.

As of the moment it seems that, generally, 25,000 miles will procure a ticket in the continental US, 35,000 miles a trip to Hawaii or the Caribbean, 50,000 miles a trip to Europe and 60,000 miles a trip to Australia. Assuming a $ 600 JFK to LAX price, this places the value of a frequent flyer mile at roughly 2.5 cents. There is an entity, doing business at awardtraveler.com that purchases frequent flyer miles at 1.4 to 1.6 cents per mile. Of course, tickets are then "sold back" to purchasers at a premium. Their web page (7/01) shows a cost of $ 495 for the NYC to LA run, or close to 2.5 cents per mile. Note that I have no idea whether Award Traveler is either legitimate or legal. They may be. But I donít believe the airlines think so since they believe the sale or barter of miles is "illegal", though this may mean only that they refuse to honor such transactions. Trader beware. As a default I think that a price in the range of 2.0-2.5 cents per mile is in the ballpark, but this will be fluid, depending upon airfare.

Recently (11/07) 160,000 Northwest Miles were sold on e-bay for $ 1,500 or 94/100 of a cent per mile. Don't ask me how this works, or if it is "legal."