First: If you’re a frequent flyer on American and haven’t flown in over a year, it’s possible your miles are going to expire very soon. You can fix this by “donating” 2,500 miles here.
In the US, private lotteries are against the law. A lottery is a random drawing for a prize of value that you have to pay to participate in.
That’s different from a game of skill, in which the best performance wins.
Or a sweepstakes, which doesn’t cost anything to enter (which is why the rules so often say ‘no purchase necessary.’)
The question is: Is it a random/lucky thing to be able to trade in your miles for the prize you were promised? I think it’s pretty clear that as the points economy has gotten into the billions, the answer is yes. There aren’t as many ‘free’ seats per miles as there used to be. The airlines benefit when they offer fewer and fewer seats as a percentage of available points floating around, because then people are pushed to either ignore their miles or settle for something less than they expected.
Some people play with points as a hobby. For the rest of us, they’re worth way less than they appear. But mostly I wanted to remind you not to let yours expire. Thanks for staying safe by staying home.
UPDATE: After I queued up this post, AA and UA extended their deadlines. I’m glad! The rest of my rant still persists.