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Ever wonder what those frequent flyer miles are worth? Well, depending on whom you ask, you can expect an array of mathematic calculations ranging anywhere from a penny to nine cents per mile. Were you to inquire of attorney Charles Spiegel, he'd likely respond they were valueless, particularly after the outcome of his recent case.
In Spiegel v. Continental Airlines, Mr. Spiegel sued the airline for $2500, claiming "breach of contract" for the company's failure to honor his request to redeem 100,000 reward miles for a flight to Rome. On motion, the City Court of Yonkers dismissed Spiegel's case. On appeal, the Appellate Term, 9th and 10th Judicial Districts, affirmed the dismissal, noting as follows:

Plaintiff alleged that defendant breached its agreement in that it failed to permit him to redeem his frequent flyer miles for a flight. However, he was aware of the fact, from prior litigation involving defendant's "OnePass Program," that seat availability was limited and might not be available on all flights, and that usage of his frequent flyer mileage was subject to capacity control. He failed to demonstrate that defendant in any way breached the terms and conditions of its agreement
A review of the airline's "Travel & Upgrade Reward Rules," reveals that the number of reward seats available for redemption are exclusively within the company's discretion and control. Continental's policy provides, in relevant part, as follows:
Capacity Controls
Capacity-controlled seats are limited and may not be available on all flights. Reward usage, including upgrade travel, is subject to capacity controls, which may limit the number of seats available. If seats in the special fare class designated for rewards are not available, you may request an alternate flight or date. Standard Reward travel is subject to capacity controls determined and adjusted at Continental's sole discretion and there may not be Standard Reward seats available on all flights. It may be more difficult to reserve a Standard Reward seat at peak times of the year and/or to popular destinations. The actual number of reward seats can vary from flight to flight, or over time on a particular flight.
So, it seems to us, that neither Spiegel nor his case was destined to fly.
For a copy of the Appellate Term's decision in the Spiegel v. Continental Airlines, please click on the following link: