ALBANY, N.Y. - Senator Charles Schumer is calling for a federal review of complaints by consumers that they are losing millions of frequent flier miles without notice in confusing agreements.
Currently, there are few restrictions on how airlines manage and redeem the miles.
Schumer said he suspects consumers are actually paying for frequent flier programs through airfares and fees. If so, he said, rules are needed to protect consumers. He is asking the Department of Transportation to review the complaints.
“When a consumer accumulates valuable frequent flier miles, they should not have to constantly worry that they are going to expire with little or no notification from the airline,’’ he said.
About 10 trillion unused frequent-flier miles worth $165 billion are in circulation, Schumer said. But 20 percent of them may never be redeemed, he said.
The Air Transport Association, a trade group for airlines, said each air carrier tailors its frequent flier miles programs as it sees fit. The group has seen reports of consumer complaints but does not track them.