Family travelers – you know this. It is hard to find multiple open seats for families using frequent flier miles. You may only be able to use miles on one or two tickets instead of the whole family because the seats allocated for awards use are all booked up.
If this happens to you, make sure you do it right in order to maximize your award seats. Here’s how:
Always have the most frequent flier on the paying tickets – that would most likely be the adult(s) in the party. In other words, since you probably travel more than your kids, pay for YOUR ticket, and put the kids on the awards tickets, that way you accumulate even more miles on your account for a trip.
The tricky part is, if you are booking online, airlines won’t let you book a free ticket for a minor unless there is an adult flying with them. For example, if I try to book free tickets for all my three kids, and pay for my ticket, they are separate transactions, so the website reads it as the kids would be flying alone.
(Unaccompanied minors are a whole different story in booking, and require a service charge.)
But don’t give in and put the adult names in the free ticket booking information. Pick up the phone and call the airlines. Make the reservation on the phone – I’ve never had an airline charge me the fee per ticket for reserving over the phone because they are giving me a service that the website is not set up to do. Book your kids on the award ticket, and pay for yours – again to accrue more miles to your account.
Also – many people don’t know this but there are airline loyalty programs that allow families to share their points and miles within a household by transferring them for free.
Here are the ones I know about and should be checked:
British Airways: The Avios program allows members to pool miles between up to 7 residents at the same address.
Etihad Airways (Airline of United Arab Emirates) The Etihad Guest Program allows family members to pool miles in one account.
Hawaiian Air: The Hawaiian Miles program has a “share miles” feature, but only to holders of their credit or check cards.
Japan Airlines: The Family Club allows members to share miles between relatives at different households. There is a $30 fee per family that is charge to the account of the designated “Primary Member”.
Korean Air: Immediate family members can combine miles to issue awards.
Be smart about your valuable miles.. especially when it comes to something as expensive as booking flights for multiple people. Ask questions, and book the miles far in advance.