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The points and miles world is full of tips, advice, and sweet spots for solo travelers and couples. But what if you have a family and want to get the most value from your points? Today, we're going to walk through some practical airline sweet spots families can use on their upcoming trips.
AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue, the reward program for both AirFrance and KLM, is an amazing option for families and has several ongoing sweet spots on top of its monthly Promo Rewards.
One of the biggest benefits of the Flying Blue program is that is allows you to create a family account with two adults and up to six children. Anyone over the age of 18 can be the leader, and this person is the one who is responsible for the account.
The family account allows family members to pool points, ensuring small amounts of points don't get stuck in a child's account. In addition, it also makes it easy to book flights, because everyone's personal information is already in the account.
To set up a family account, you first need to create a loyalty account for each member of your family. You can do that here. Once everyone has their own account, the family leader will log on, then go to the Flying Blue Family page. From here, you will add the members of your family by entering their names and Flying Blue numbers. They will receive an invitation and need to accept it to complete the process.
Another thing we love about Flying Blue is the ability to find awards for very few points. Generally, you can find good availability for flights from the West Coast to Europe for 20,000 miles one-way.
In addition, you can find good availability from the East Coast to Europe for 15,000 miles one-way.
Not only are these low points requirements for flights, but award tickets are 25% off for kids aged 2–11. That means a family of four could fly from the East Coast to Paris for just 52,500 miles each way!
Use the calendar search function to find the cheapest dates with availability for your family.
How to earn points
Flying Blue points are pretty easy to come by. This is because it's a transfer partner with almost every major credit card points system out there. Here are your options:
- American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1 transfer rate; most transfers process immediately
- Bilt Rewards: 1:1 transfer rate; most transfers process immediately
- Brex Cash: 3:2 transfer rate; most transfers process within 24 hours
- Capital One Rewards: 1:1 transfer rate; most transfers process immediately
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: 1:1 transfer rate; most transfers process immediately
- Citi ThankYou Points: 1:1 transfer rate; most transfers process immediately
- Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 transfer rate plus a 5,000-point bonus for every 20,000 points received; most transfers take one or two days
Additionally, U.S.-based travelers can apply for the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® to boost their stash of Flying Blue miles.
The most notable thing that makes Southwest Airlines a sweet spot for families is its Companion Pass. You can earn the Companion Pass by flying 100 flight segments or earning 135,000 points in a calendar year. The simplest way to earn those points is through sign-up bonuses on Southwest credit cards.
Once you earn the pass, you can fly a companion for free (plus taxes and fees) on any ticket you book, as many times as you want, for the rest of the year and the entire following year (ex: if you earn the pass in July 2023, it's valid through the end of 2024).
This is great for families because each parent could potentially earn the Companion Pass and then bring a kid as their companion. It's like a “buy one, get one free” deal for every flight you take. That even includes award flights.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program tends to have some great options for low-cost points redemptions. For example, you can fly from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) for only 11,866 points per person one-way. For a family of four, this comes out to just 47,464 points each way.
Here's another example: You could fly from Chicago-Midway (MDW) to New York-La Guardia (LGA) for just 7,110 points per person one-way. For a family of four, this means you only need 28,440 points each way.
Another great thing about Southwest is that you can search the Low Fare Calendar to see a whole month at a time. This helps to narrow down which days have the cheapest flights on points, helping families find sweet spots on dates that work for them.
Furthermore, if Southwest runs a sale and the price of your ticket goes down, you can change your ticket to the new price and get the extra points refunded. There's no fee to change your booking, which is good since award prices are tied to cash prices and can vary.
One thing to note for families flying Southwest: There are no reserved seats. You will get a boarding group when you check in 24 hours before your flight. When your boarding group is called, you will board the plane and find empty seats.
This can be a bit nerve-wracking for families, but they do allow those with children six and under to board after the A group, before the B group.
Earning Southwest Points
You can earn Southwest points in several ways:
- Open a co-branded Southwest credit card.
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards from Chase to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio (most transfers are immediate).
- Fly on Southwest.
- Buy Southwest points, although we would only recommend doing this if they're running a bonus.
If you want to learn more about earning Southwest points, check out our Southwest Rapid Rewards guide.
United Airlines consistently vies for the title of the airline flying to the most destinations. It has a massive domestic and international flight network. Because of this, it's a great option for families looking for award sweet spots to numerous places — both domestic and international.
One of the hardest things about booking award travel for families is finding availability. When looking for award seats, you'll find that they are limited on each flight. When you need four, five, or more seats, it can be hard to find. This isn't usually the case with United. Because there are so many flights to so many locations, award availability is typically good — especially in economy. This makes it a solid family sweet spot.
United is not always the cheapest when it comes to bookings with miles, but it does have some good sweet spots for families that know where to look. United's award flights are based on dynamic pricing, meaning most routes don't have set prices. Prices can vary day to day, depending on demand and availability. Luckily, United lets you search using a 30-day calendar, which makes it easier to find the best deals.
For example, prices are all over the place when searching for flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Maui (OGG).
However, numerous options exist for the low price of 15,000 miles one-way. A family of four could fly one-way for 60,000 miles.
If you want to fly your family to Europe, you can expect to pay around 30,000 miles per person each way. Knowing this, you can use the 30-day search function to find the dates where this price point is available. Let's look at two examples.
First, flights from Chicago to Rome have good availability at 30,000 miles per person.
Second, this example from New York to London shows slightly higher pricing: 31,800 miles per person each way.
In both of these examples, you'll notice that the price is green. This is what you are looking for. It indicates that this is the lowest rate for this route. Additionally, the cheapest flights (saver awards) may be available to book with a partner airline, potentially requiring fewer miles but a bit more effort.
United's redemptions may be higher than airlines like AirFrance–KLM and Southwest. However, there is a lot of value in how broad United's availability can be, creating sweet spots for families who need reliability when planning around school schedules.
You can earn United miles in many ways. First, you can open a United credit card. There are four personal cards and two business cards.
- United Gateway℠ Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United Quest℠ Card
- United Club℠ Infinite Card
- United℠ Business Card
- United Club℠ Business Card
Each of these cards has its own earning potential, benefits, and perks. To learn more about which card may be the best fit for you, check out our comparison of United credit cards.
Second, United is one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, which means that you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio (and most transfers are immediate). Third, earn miles by flying on United or one of its partner airlines. Finally, you can earn more miles by shopping, dining, or booking travel through United.
You can get details about all of these options and more in our complete guide to United Mileage Plus.
Family travel using points will always require more thought and planning than what's required of solo travelers. However, valuable, reliable sweet spots for families do exist. Multiple airlines have great availability, discounts for kids, and low redemption rates, plus other perks. Do your research, decide what works best for your family, then use these tips to book the trip.
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