16 major airline programmes that allow families to pool points and miles
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Frequent flyer programmes are typically designed so that the person who is sitting in an aeroplane seat on an eligible paid ticket is the one who gets the points and miles. Depending on the programme, that person may be able to use their points and miles to book award tickets for friends and family members, but most frequent flyer programmes don’t allow members to pool their points and miles together or transfer miles from one account to another without charging a hefty fee.
This is a tough reality for families who may be purchasing multiple airline tickets, but ultimately end up with relatively small frequent flyer balances spread across each travellers’ individual accounts. Five family members who each have 5,000 points or miles in their respective accounts may not be able to do much with their points and miles. However, if those balances could be combined into one pooled account, then you’re looking at 25,000 total points or miles, which is probably enough to book an award flight.
Thankfully, some frequent flyer programmes are more family-friendly in this regard than others and do permit family members to pool their miles together for free.
Aegean allows its Silver and Gold elite members to activate a Together Account and add up to five members, regardless of the additional members’ elite status levels. All of the award miles earned by Together members are automatically transferred to the head member’s account. Individual members retain their own elite qualifying miles, but redeemable miles get pooled into one head account.
The Air France/KLM Flying Blue programme has a Share & Fly option that allows you to share miles with any additional cardholders on a Flying Blue American Express credit card. While this may be very helpful for some international members of the Flying Blue programme, particularly those based in France and the Netherlands, it won’t help many U.K.-based travellers.
The Italian-based Alitalia MilleMiglia frequent flyer programme doesn’t have family pooling in the traditional sense, but it does have a feature for children aged 2 to 13 years old where the miles they earn on Alitalia flights are funnelled directly into one parent’s frequent flyer account. Then when the child turns 14 years of age, the link automatically ends and the teenager can earn miles in his or her own account via the MilleMiglia Young programme, complete with up to 4,000 bonus miles to get them started.
The ANA Mileage Club permits Family Accounts for its members who reside outside of its home country of Japan. Those ANA members outside of Japan can register two to eight members — including the head member — for a Family Account. Eligible members can be a spouse, partner or relatives within two degrees of kinship. This means that a grandchild or a grandparent would be eligible members of your Family Account, but not a great-grandparent or great-grandchild.
There’s a registration fee of 1,000 miles to add members to the Family Account. Mileage is accrued by each individual ANA Mileage Club member’s number and then combined to book awards as needed. To use ANA Family Account miles to book an award on a partner airline, the members contributing miles must have accrued miles on at least one ANA international flight within the last three years.
Within the British Airways Executive Club, the only way for children to earn Avios is to be part of a Household Account. A Household Account is comprised of up to seven people who live at the same address. Children cannot earn and spend their own British Airways Avios until they are 18 years old.
The downside to the British Airways Household Account used to be that if you were a member of a Household Account, you couldn’t redeem your Avios for others who were not on the Household Account. This was a dealbreaker for me, as I like to redeem Avios on occasion for friends, aunts, cousins, grandparents and more. However, British Airways now offers a Family and Friends list to accompany a Household Account. This means you can redeem Avios award tickets for up to five additional persons added to your list who don’t live within your household.
Each individual within the Household Account must be active within 36 months to retain their personally earned Avios (and, therefore, the Avios added to the Household pool of Avios). The Head of Household can only change the address on the account or make changes to the Household account once every six months, including cancelling the account.
In order to add an adult to your Household Account, you need to add the adult’s last name and Executive Club number. If he or she is not already a BAEC member, it’s time to sign up. The application can be rejected if the person does not consent to be added.
Emirates Skywards offers family pooling of miles via its My Family programme. Up to eight family members ages 2 and up with an eligible family relationship may participate. This includes husband, wife, partner, mother, father, step-mother, step-father, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son, step-son, daughter or step-daughter. Members of the Emirates My Family programme can pool up to 100% of their Skywards Miles earned on Emirates flights.
Family Members may be requested to provide Emirates Skywards with additional proof of their relationship to the Family Head.
The Etihad Guest programme offers a Family Membership that permits up to eight family members to pool their miles together. Eligible family members include brothers, sisters, father, mother, spouse, children, grandchildren, grandparents, parents-in-law, step-parents, step-children, step-siblings, step-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and even one household staff member. The terms indicate that Etihad may audit Family Memberships and request proof of family relationships.
The Japan Airlines JAL Family Club permits family pooling for miles and is open to JAL members who reside outside Japan. A JAL Family Club can have up to nine family members including the Primary Member’s spouse, children, parents and spouse’s parents. There is a 1,000-mile fee for each added member to the Family Club, as well as a 1,000-mile renewal fee every five years.
The Korean Air SKYPASS programme permits up to five family members to join their Family Plan. Eligible family members include a spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren. You must submit documents showing proof of the relationship, and these can take a couple of weeks to process.
Under the Korean Air SKYPASS Family Plan, miles are not pooled into one account, but instead, members of the plan with an insufficient number of miles for an award redemption can supplement their balances with the miles of an immediate family member from within the plan. Certain types of awards, such as SkyTeam awards, cannot be booked via the SKYPASS Family Plan.
Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines
In 2018, the Lufthansa Miles & More programme announced that it would begin to offer family pooling for up to two adults and five children beginning in May 2018. However, as of now, the functionality seems to only be available via the Lufthansa Miles & More app to those members who are residents of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
There’s no restriction on the relationship between the adults in the family pool — indeed the programme promotes that two friends can earn miles together.
Qantas Frequent Flyer allows you to transfer between 5,000 to 600,000 Qantas points to an eligible family member at no cost, as many times as you like in any 12-month period. You can also sign up your children to Qantas Frequent Flyer at no cost to get them started on their points journey (and then transfer their points to you if you wish).
Make sure any points transfers comply with the definition of family members which is quite wide and includes cousins, grandparents, half brothers/sisters and relatives by marriage.
The Qatar Airways Family Programme allows members to nominate up to nine family members to their Privilege Club membership, including a spouse, children older than two years old and their parents. You’re required to attach documentation of the relationship with the application form.
All Qmiles earned by family members are credited to the main member’s account, but family members’ flight activities don’t earn Qpoints towards status. Once added, family members cannot be replaced for 24 months. However, family members more than 12 years old can delink from the family account and have their own membership accounts as main members. The Qmiles earned prior to delinking will remain in the main member’s account.
With SAS EuroBonus Point Sharing, a member can simply create a Point Sharing account and invite up to seven friends or family members to join the group. All EuroBonus points earned by the individual members are pooled in the shared account to be used for anything the EuroBonus programme offers. EuroBonus members can be part of one Point Sharing group at a time, but they can always change or leave groups every six months.
Miles&Smiles, the Turkish Airlines frequent flyer programme, permits families to collect miles into a family membership, provided that the head member has the airline’s Classic Plus elite status or higher. A family membership allows the miles from the head member, his or her spouse and unmarried children under 25 to pool together as “Family Miles”.
With a family membership, all of your family members’ miles earned from Turkish Airlines flights, Star Alliance member flights and programme partners will be added to your Classic Plus account. Each family member will have his or her own account, and activities of family members will be added as Bonus Miles to the Classic Plus member’s account. The flights of family members will be added to their own account as “Status Miles” to let them upgrade their membership level.
To open a family membership, you must complete a feedback form and send it along with photocopies of the marriage certificate and ID cards relating to your family members (partner and children), their Turkish ID numbers and a signed request that includes your full address, telephone and email. The airline asks that you make any miles transfer requests at the same time as your application for family membership.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members with Gold elite status can create a Household Account and link a maximum of nine Flying Club Memberships with the same household address as the Gold Member. All miles earned by Household Account-linked members will automatically transfer to the Gold Member’s account after each mileage transaction is complete, but each member will earn their own Tier Points toward earning elite status.
The Virgin Australia Velocity Family Points Pooling programme allows up to six family members living at the same address to pool both Velocity Points and Status Credits. Their Family Points Pooling can include up to two members 18 years or over, and up to four members less than 18 years of age.
You can choose to pool either just Velocity Points or both Velocity Points and Status Credits to the beneficiary. This means that one family member can earn elite status within the Velocity programme much faster by having the whole family’s flights count toward status.
Which major airline programmes don’t allow family pooling?
- American Airlines Advantage*
- Air Canada Aeroplan*
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Delta SkyMiles*
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Rapid Rewards*
- United Airlines MileagePlus*
*You can transfer points and miles in these programmes to someone else, for a fee.
As you can see, not all airlines and frequent flyer programmes permit families to share and pool miles in the same way, but there are many programmes that do permit families to put their miles together in a variety of ways in order to achieve that next award flight faster. So if you’re collecting miles for each of your family members, consider whether you might be better off putting all your eggs in one basket.
Additional reporting by Ben Smithson.
Feature photo by Lya_Cattel/Getty Images.