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How to book flights for someone else with miles (rules for 20+ programs)

by on Tue August 15, 2017 • No Comment
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Have some miles and want to use them to book a flight for a friend or family member?

Most programs will allow you to use your points to book flights for others very easily. Occasionally, though you’ll have to nominate who you want to redeem for ahead of time or be restricted to redeeming for specific family members.

As a backup you can also transfer miles to someone else, but it usually comes with a fee, and you’re usually better off just booking out of your own account.

This post covers the booking and transfer policies for each major US airline and credit card program as well as the major international airlines that are transfer partners of American Express, Chase, and Citi.

Airline Programs – US

Hopefully you’ve racked up quite a few frequent flier miles either through flying or through various airline branded and transferrable point credit cards. As a general rule, with the programs below, it usually makes more sense to book with your own miles for someone else rather than transfer miles. One common exception would be if you need to top up someone’s miles because they are very close to redeeming for a valuable award (i.e. they need 2,000 more miles; in this case, transferring the miles you already have could cost less than buying more miles).

Be aware that miles transferred from one account to another do not count towards elite status.

Also keep in mind that selling miles or points to someone is against the terms and conditions for most programs. While you may be able to get away with it, do so at your own risk because your account will likely be shut down if the airline finds out that you are selling your miles.

Alaska MileagePlan

Alaska Airlines plane photo

You can book an award ticket for anyone from your own account. Note that Alaska Airlines has been known to suspect mileage sales when the account holder is not flying on a mileage redemption ticket. This is more the case for premium bookings like Japan Airlines First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and Emirates First Class, though any booking could be suspected. MileagePlan members have had their accounts closed (whether or not they were actually selling miles, we don’t know). For this reason, we wouldn’t recommending booking tickets for other people with Alaska Airlines miles when the primary account holder is not traveling, especially premium cabin tickets.

You can also transfer 1,000 to 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000 miles at a cost of $10.00 per 1,000 miles, plus a $25.00 processing fee per transaction. A maximum of 100,000 miles can be transferred into/ or deducted from any individual Mileage Plan account per calendar year.

American AAdvantage

You can book an award ticket for anyone from your own account, so you usually don’t need to transfer miles. Simply book the ticket in the name of the passenger you want to use your miles for.

Be aware that AAdvantage has a very active fraud prevention team, and that they will likely take action if they suspect you are selling a ticket acquired with your miles. If you genuinely know the passenger and are simply gifting the ticket, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.

It is also possible to transfer American miles from one account to another, for a processing fee of $15 + a variable cost depending on the number of miles (e.g. transferring 26,000 miles would cost $227.50). You may only transfer a maximum of 200,000 miles into or out of an account within a calendar year.

Note that AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to share miles.

delta air lines airplane

Delta Skymiles

You can book an award ticket for anyone from your own account, so you usually don’t need to transfer miles. Simply book the ticket in the name of the passenger you want to use your miles for.

Transferring miles might make sense if you need to top up someone’s account to redeem for a specific award. To transfer Skymiles, the rate per mile is $0.01 and the processing fee per transaction is $30.00. Applicable taxes apply.

Example: you need 70,000 miles per person for an award to Asia, you have 20,000 miles and your travel companion has 125,000 – then it could make sense to pay $180 ($30 processing fee plus $15,000 * $0.01 per mile) + tax to transfer 15,000 miles and redeem for two Business class tickets from their account.

Frontier EarlyReturns

You can redeem awards for others with Frontier EarlyReturns.

It is also possible to transfer your Frontier miles to another person. Frontier charges 2.5 cents per mile to transfer between 1,000 and 25,000 miles. This is an extremely high cost to transfer miles so it’s not recommended unless only a few miles are needed to be transferred to book a high-value award.

JetBlue TrueBlue

You can book a flight for someone else using TrueBlue points from your own account without transferring points.

TrueBlue points may also be transferred for $0.0125 per point. A maximum of 120,000 points can be transferred or received within a single calendar year.

But even better than transferring, you can use family pooling to pool your points with members of your household (up to 2 adults and 5 children) at no cost.

southwestplane

Southwest Rapid Rewards

You can book for others with your points, but you will keep control over their reservation and be the only person able to make changes to or cancel the reservation.

You may also transfer Rapid Rewards points to another member, but there is a transfer fee and it makes little sense to do so as you can book for others with your own account. The fee is $10.00 per 1,000 points with a minimum transfer of 2,000 points. Since the number of points required for a flight is tied to the cash value of a ticket, it’s rare that you’ll need to pay amounts that are equivalent to international premium cabin tickets with other airlines.

Spirit Free Spirit

You can book awards for someone else with your Free Spirit miles and it can be done online to reduce the fees, but it’s a little tricky. You first need to log into the account you want to redeem the miles from. Then search for the flight (selecting the option to use Free Spirit miles) and select the flight you want to book. Finally, on the customer information page, delete the pre-populated info (including the Free Spirit number of the account holder) and replace it with the award recipient’s information.

Free Spirit miles are not transferable.

United MileagePlus

You can book an award ticket for anyone from your own account, so you usually don’t need to transfer miles. Simply book the ticket in the name of the passenger you want to use your miles for.

If are considering transferring miles, keep in mind that mileage transfers cost $7.50 per 500 miles, plus a processing fee of $30 per transaction. A maximum of 100,000 miles can be transferred into or deducted from any individual MileagePlus account per calendar year.

Airline Programs – International

Below we have covered the policies for using your miles to book flights for other people for the major transfer partners of Chase, Citi, and American Express.

Air Canada Aeroplan

You can book a flight for someone else using Aeroplan miles.

You can also transfer miles from one Aeroplan Account to another, online and instantaneously at a rate of 2¢ (CAD) per mile. Each Aeroplan member is limited to 5 transactions (donations or receptions) per account per calendar year. You can transfer your Aeroplan Miles to three recipient members at one time; the maximum number of Aeroplan Miles that can be transferred to any one recipient during any one transaction is 999,999 Aeroplan Miles; the minimum amount is 1,000 Aeroplan Miles.

The rate of CAD 0.02/mile makes it a really expensive, last-resort option.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Image courtesy of Air France.

You can book a flight for someone else using Flying Blue miles, and that includes the sometimes very lucrative promo awards (up to 50% discount).

It is also possible to transfer Flying Blue miles to anyone, and the transfer cost is €3 per 250 miles. A maximum of 50,000 miles per transfer can be shared per transaction, and you may transfer or receive a maximum of 250,000 award miles per year.

Holders of French and Dutch co-branded Amex cards can combine miles free of charge with an authorized user (the benefit is called Share & Fly).

A word of caution: Flying Blue’s fraud prevention team has been known to go rogue and prevent people who just opened an account and transferred points from a transferable credit card currency (like Citi ThankYou or Chase UR) from redeeming their miles unless they go to a ticket counter to get the award issued. To avoid the issue, it *might* be better to redeem over the phone or open the account some time before you actually wish to complete the redemption. The Air France twitter team is also usually very helpful.

ANA Mileage Club

You can only redeem miles for up to second degree family members, defined as such:

ana-family

You cannot share or combine earned miles with other Members, or transfer miles to other Members, with the exception of the Family Account service. ANA Mileage Club members (the primary member) who reside outside Japan can register 2-8 family members, as defined above, (including themselves) for this service. There is a registration / modification fee of 1,000 miles. Miles will be combined upon redemption of an award.

British Airways Executive Club

You can book a flight for someone else using Avios.

You can also pay to transfer up to 162,000 Avios, with a maximum of 27,000 Avios to any Executive Club Member, in one calendar year. You will be charged a non-refundable fee, dependent on the number of Avios transferred (e.g. GBP 25 for 5,000 Avios). BA Gold members may transfer up to 27,000 Avios for free.

But even better, you can use a household account to pool your points with members of your household at no cost. The downside is that you can only redeem your points for members of your household or a nominee on your “Family and Friends list” (up to 6 nominees per household account). In a household account, each member of the household retains their own balance, and when you redeem points, a pro-rated amount is taken from each account.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

You can only redeem award tickets for 5 nominees in your redemption group. You may register the first five Nominees in your membership lifetime with no fee applied. Thereafter, you can change up to three Nominees per membership year with a service fee (online: USD50; other channels: USD75).

Similarly, you can only transfer miles to a member of your redemption group. To transfer miles, the minimum block transfer is 10,000 miles at a service fee (online: USD170; other channels: USD250), and further blocks of 5,000 miles can be transferred at a service fee per block (online: USD140; other channels: USD200). Note that transferring miles extends their validity for a further 3 years.

Emirates Skywards

emiratesbizcabin

You can book a flight for someone else using Skywards miles.

Skywards Miles can also be transferred online to another Emirates Skywards account at a cost of USD 25 per multiple of 1,000 Miles. Miles can only be transferred if the receiving account has at least one earning activity.

If you have family members (up to 8) who don’t travel a lot on their own on Emirates, you can nominate them for the Family Bonus program. 20% of the miles they would normally earn will then be credited to your account. Eligible Family Bonus Members are spouse, parents, siblings, children, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, step parents, step children and… maids. Note that the Family Bonus program only applies to Emirates – no partner activity can be credited with a Family Bonus account.

Etihad Guest

You can book a flight for someone else using Etihad Guest miles.

Etihad Guest also lets you pool all the Etihad Guest miles earned by anyone in your family into one single account using a Family Membership (up to 8 members). Unlike Emirates, the accrual is not reduced and partner activities also count. 100% of the Etihad Guest miles earned by the Family Guest will be transferred to the Family Head’s account, along with any bonus miles earned.

Hawaiian Miles

You can book a flight for someone else using Hawaiian miles.

You can also transfer miles to another member for a $25 service fee and $0.01 per mile transfer fee – with a minimum transfer of 2,000 Hawaiian miles, unless the recipient is a Hawaiian Miles credit/debit card holder, in which case transfers are free and unlimited.

Iberia Plus

You can book a flight for someone else using Avios.

If you want to transfer Avios to someone else, keep in mind that Avios can only be transferred online. You can transfer up to 144,000 Avios per calendar year. These limits apply to both the person who issues the Avios and the person who receives them. The maximum amount of Avios per transfer is 24,000, and the cost is between EUR 30 and EUR 160 depending on the amount.

Korean Air SkyPass

You may only redeem miles for family members. They must be registered with proof of relationship. Family members may include the spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren.

Korean Air also offers a Family Plan: members with insufficient miles for award redemption can supplement their miles with the miles of immediate family members. Up to 5 family members, including the registered member of the account, may redeem awards through Family Plan.

Qantas

qantasbusiness

You can only redeem awards for family members, defined as: Husband/Wife, Parent/Step-parent, Domestic Partner/De Facto, Child, including foster & step-child, Brother/Sister, Half Brother/Sister, Grandparent, Grandchild, Son/Daughter-in-law, Brother/Sister-in-law, Father/Mother-in-law, Uncle/Aunt, Nephew/Niece, First cousin.

Similarly, you can only transfer miles to the same family members with a minimum of 5,000 miles transferred and a maximum of 600,000. It is free to do so online, while there is a charge of AUD 35 over the phone.

Singapore Krisflyer

You can redeem for someone else, but are limited, at any given time, to 5 nominees (adults and children alike) for whom you can redeem miles; you can add nominees freely, but changing or removing them can only be done every 6 months for a fee.

You cannot transfer Krisflyer miles to another account.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

You can book flights for others with your Flying Club account.

You may also pay to transfer between 1,000 and 100,000 miles per calendar year to someone else’s account. The cost per mile will vary depending on the amount you transfer (the more you transfer, the lower the cost per mile), but should be between USD 0.0385/mi and USD 0.01375/mi.

Credit Card Programs

American Express Membership Rewards

If you have American Express Membership Rewards points, you have a couple of different options for booking for other people. The easiest way will be to transfer your Membership Rewards points to your own frequent flyer program and then follow the rules of that program to book a ticket for someone else. Since most programs allow booking for someone else with little hassle, this is usually the easiest option.

If the program that you want to transfer to doesn’t allow booking for other people easily or a friend or family member needs a top-up on their account in order to book an award, you’re not out of luck. If you add the family member or friend as an authorized user of your American Express credit card, you will be able to transfer your Membership Rewards points to their frequent flyer programs. You cannot, however, transfer your Membership Rewards points directly to someone else’s Membership Rewards account.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to ONE member of your household (it must always be the same person). Chase applies this rule very strictly and you should not try your luck with them.

Another option for sharing Ultimate Rewards points involves transferring to someone else’s frequent flyer program. If you want to do this, you will need to add them as an authorized user on your credit card and they must also be a member of your household.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi ThankYou points can be easily transferred to any other Citi ThankYou points member but with a few restrictions: you can only receive and share a total of 100,000 points per calendar year, and the points you transferred expire after 90 days and cannot be transferred back or shared with anyone else. This means that you should only transfer ThankYou points if you have an immediate use for them.

Conclusion

Using miles for other people is definitely a good option to have. Fortunately, most airlines programs make redeeming your miles for someone else very straightforward. When redeeming for someone else directly isn’t an option, you can still usually transfer miles or points to someone else. Transferring miles and points often comes with a fee and sometimes additional limitations, especially for credit card programs.

Credit card programs require a few more hoops to jump through if you want to transfer points to someone else (rather than just use your account to book for someone else), but it is still generally possible. Each program has different rules, so you will have to look into to the rules for the specific program you are interested in. For the most part you will find using your miles to book a ticket for someone else to be very straightforward, the main airlines with various restrictions to keep in mind are ANA, Cathay, Korean, Singapore, and Qantas.

The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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