Points Broker Tickets - Does it work + What are the risks?
Have you seen the google ads, or heard about friends getting cheap business or first class tickets, (buying points from someone to fly)?
FAQ - I'll explain how this practice works.
While this technique has worked for many people in the past, the game has changed and I’ll explain why.
With the growing popularity of data-mining by the airlines, and points hacking - these techniques will face hurdles and potentially be stopped in their tracks.
First: They are not illegal (if not hacked), Second: They use a grey loophole.
They are called points brokers.
Online websites who will sell you a business class bargain, seemingly using points sourced from corporations who ‘don't need them’. Some may sell you the points to be deposited into your own account, others will just send you the ticket that is booked from another account. It’s an interesting business model, one with a few questions unanswered.
Note: iFLYflat is independent and we do not purchase points. We help our clients with strategies to collect more of their own legally owned points, and to use them smarter.
We often talk with airlines about their frequent flyer programs, and with banks about their reward loyalty programs. This is my opinion on what is coming.
With data-mining, the game has changed.
#1 You have no control
Using points brokers you are buying points to fly from someone else, that means you are not the legal owner of the points.
Any travel disruptions or cancellations may result in trouble, because you may not be able to make changes yourself even if you are the ticketholder - they may need to speak to the points owner.
This potentially leaves you stuck at some foreign airport, where the airline is unable or unwilling to help you. Or you cannot get hold of your points broker or they can’t get hold of the points owner.
Sometimes the only solution is to pay full price to book a new flight to get home.
#2 Whose points are they? Check the authenticity.
Most times you won't know whose points they are - who is the legal owner? The risk is that the points are not legitimately authorised for your use.
There’s a chance some points may been accrued through account hacking, stolen, bought from the dark web or other methods.
A quick google will show many examples where users accounts has been hacked and miles stolen.
In the past, points brokers would legimately buy points from another person, and then use the points to book the ticket (while this was against the airline’s terms, it was not illegal).
Now, If your ticket has been booked with stolen points, you could become implicated with the crime.
#3 Airlines could catch you out either intentionally or unintentionally
While US-based airlines do allow for bookings to be made in names other than the account holder, it is strictly against the terms and conditions to receive any form of payment or barter.
With the increasing popularity of frequent flyer programs mining their data for more personalised marketing offers and tracking booking behaviour - the airline could, whilst doing this, unintentionally discover a breach of their terms and conditions.
Such tickets eat into the airline’s revenue and may be automatically cancelled without recourse.
At the end of the day, the key is to understand that the airline is running a business. Whilst it operates a frequent flyer program to provide award seats to its members and ensures their obligations to their members are met, they draw the line when members selling their frequent flyer points at their expense.
This article is not exhaustive. Please google and do your own research.
How do you spot the tickets
The taxes are the only thing shown on the itinerary
The tickets do not accrue mileage or points
At iFLYflat, our model is helping you use your own legal and compliant points to fly. If you experience any disruptions or issues with the flight, you are the legal owner and can negotiate the best outcome with the airline/s and get home.
In the worst case, you could cancel that flight, get a refund of the points and book another flight with some other points you might have.
The key is having options that you can control.
You can fly with confidence.
The final question: If you are stuck at the airport through a points broker and you are denied boarding - what are you going to do, who are you going to call?
You can decide what is best for you, but at least now you know how it works.