What Happens If You Forget to Add Your Loyalty Number Before a Flight?

Jun 28, 2019

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There are various stages of the travel-booking process. And for points and miles enthusiasts, one of the most important things to do is to add your loyalty number to a booking to ensure you earn the point or miles of your choice as well as the Tier Points or status credits.

The earliest chance to add your loyalty number is when you book a flight. If you don’t do it then, you can add it either during the online check-in process or at the physical check-in desk — a good time if you are checking luggage. If you are provided with your boarding pass and it does not display your loyalty number that you added during the booking process, don’t be afraid to ask the check-in agent to add the number even if you thought you had added it before.

If you get through security and realise the number isn’t on your boarding pass, don’t try and go back to the check-in desk. Instead, look for a customer service desk airside that is operated by the airline with which you are flying or a service desk run by a third party (like Menzies) for the airline with which you are flying. You can also go to the gate where there should be gate staff preparing the flight for boarding. It is better to ask them before boarding starts rather than during the boarding process, when there are dozens of people queued up behind you waiting to board. If the gate staff are trying to complete the boarding process as quickly as possible in order to make an on-time departure, they may refuse to add your loyalty number.

If you get all the way onto the plane and realise there is no loyalty number on your boarding pass, don’t ask the crew to fix it during the flight. It is very unlikely they will be able to do so from inside the plane, and organising ground staff to board could risk the flight departing on time.

If you have Wi-Fi on the flight, you can attempt to update your booking online, though most airlines websites will likely not allow changes to the booking once the flight has departed.

(Photo courtesy Getty Images)

But even if your flight lands and there was no number on the booking, all is not lost.

Most airlines will allow you to do a retroactive claim online, where you can enter the details online as soon as the plane lands. It’s best to keep your physical boarding pass (or take a screenshot if you have a digital boarding pass), as it will have all the information you will need to complete the claim afterwards, and some airlines or loyalty programmes may ask for evidence of one.

While you don’t need to submit the claim the day you land, it’s good practice to do it as soon as possible after the flight — otherwise you may forget. Most airlines have a strict policy on how long for which they will accept retroactive claims. British Airways, for example, will only accept claims up to six months after the date of the flight.

Be aware that some retroactive claims — especially on partner airlines — can take weeks (if not months) to process, as the airline may need to contact the other airline to check the details and confirm before they can process it. If you are claiming a flight from the airline that operates the loyalty programme in question (for example, an Emirates flights and its Skywards programme), the airline should be able to process this retroactive claim faster than it could for a partner airline.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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