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One of the highlights of collecting points and miles is helping friends and family experience luxury travel without the luxury price tag. In recent years, however, the gradual deterioration of legacy frequent flyer programs has prompted a surge in the use of international and less familiar domestic programs. As an example, The Best Points & Miles to get to Hawaii involve not using American, Delta, or United, but rather their partners.
Flexible rewards currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Marriott Rewards Points, and American Express Membership Rewards have made it easy to transfer points to multiple airline partners, but it’s easy to get caught out if you aren't familiar with the rules. Unlike U.S. frequent flyer programs, which allow you to book award flights for anyone, many overseas programs place restrictions on who you can book awards for using your miles. That said, if you're only redeeming your points/miles for your immediate family (parents + children), you won't have a problem redeeming your miles for them.
Transferring flexible points to airline partners is final, and there is no worse feeling than moving hundreds of thousands of points to an airline partner only to realize you can only book awards for immediate family members.
With that in mind, we’ve created the table below covering restrictions on booking award tickets for other people using airline miles, along with policies for each carrier on pooling your miles into a single account.
Why Not Transfer Miles to Someone Else to Book an Award?
Except for Qantas Frequent Flyer, which allows family members to transfer up to 600K points to one another for free each year, frequent flyer programs typically charge between 1 and 2 cents per mile to transfer between accounts. Considering that many airline miles have an average redeemable value of around 1.6 cents each (value determined by what you might otherwise pay in cash for the ticket), this makes transferring miles to someone else’s account, in all but the most extreme circumstances, not worth the cost.
The good news is, it’s relatively straightforward to redeem miles out of your account for other people provided you understand the program rules and don’t mind a bit of planning.
|Airline Frequent Flyer Program||Restrictions If Booking Award Flights For Other People||Family Pooling/Sharing|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||None||No|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||None||No|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||None||Share Miles free if member receiving miles holds Hawaiian co-brand credit or debit card|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||None||JetBlue Family Pooling - 2 Adults + 5 Children|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||None||No|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||None||No|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||None||No|
|ANA Mileage Club||Can only redeem for ANA Family Account (AFA) members||Only for members residing outside Japan, can nominate between 2-8 family members within 2 degrees of kinship to AFA. Registration fee of 1,000 miles per member.|
|Asiana Club||Only registered immediate family members||Max 5 family members for Asiana Club Family Mileage Plan - Requires documentation proving family relations|
|British Airways Executive Club||Can book awards for members of Household Account plus up to 5 individuals on Family & Friends list. No restrictions if you don't use a Household Account.||Up to 7 members living at same address can share a Household Account and pool Avios|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Redeem for members in your nominated Redemption Group - first 5 nominees are free and then $50 each time a nominee is replaced||No
|EgyptAir Plus||None||Max 5 family members for EgyptAir Plus - Requires proof of relationship|
|Emirates Skywards||None||Nominate up to 8 family members for Emirates Skywards Family Bonus account|
|Etihad Guest||None||Up to 8 family members can share an Etihad Guest Family Account|
|JAL Mileage Bank||Only family members within the second degree of kinship||Up to 9 members in JAL Family Club. Primary account holder must reside outside of Japan - 1,000 mile fee per family member plus 1,000 mile renewal fee every 5 years|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||Only registered immediate family members||Max 5 family members for Korean Air Family Plan - Requires proof of relationship|
|Lufthansa Miles & More||None||No|
|Qatar Privilege Club||None||Qatar Privilege Club Family Programme allows up to 9 family members to pool miles|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Up to 5 Redemption Nominees. Nominees must stay on account for minimum 6 months - free to add people but costs between $0-$30 to remove dependent on elite status||No|
Book Award Flights for Anyone Using Your Miles
The most flexible programs when it comes to booking awards for others, these frequent flyer programs allow you to redeem miles for anybody. This includes all U.S. carrier rewards programs, the three big Gulf carriers, European programs, and although not included in the table, flexible rewards currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards.
You can redeem flexible rewards currencies for anybody via their respective travel portals. For example, if you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for flights via the Chase Travel Portal at a rate of 1.25¢ per point, and those flights can be for any person.
Book Award Flights for Specified People on Your Account
Singapore KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles only allow you to redeem miles for people specified in your account. You can nominate a limited number of people (don't need to be family), and there is typically a minimum duration of six months a member must stay attached to your account. KrisFlyer and Asia Miles also charge a hefty fee to replace nominees to discourage any foul play. If you have a BA Executive Club Household Account setup to pool Avios, you can only use the pooled miles for family members or up to 5 additional people in your Family & Friends List.
Book Award Flights for a Limited Number of Family Members
The most restrictive policies are, unfortunately, reserved for Asian frequent flyer programs that offer some of the best sweet spots in award travel. Both Korean SKYPASS and Asiana Club only allow you to redeem miles for immediate family members and restrict you to 5 linked members per account. They also require documentation to prove family or spousal relations. ANA Mileage Club and JAL Mileage Bank limit the booking of award flights to family members within two degrees of kinship.
The ability to book award tickets for anybody using miles from your account is a feature where U.S. frequent flyer programs provide better value than their foreign counterparts. If you want to take advantage of the outstanding value you can extract from Asian frequent flyer programs like Asiana Club, Korean SKYPASS, and ANA Mileage Club, it’s essential to set up your account ahead of time, add your family members, and ensure all documentation is sent in to prove the relationship prior to transferring points.
As always, if there're any programs we’ve missed or you have any questions, please reach out in the comments.
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