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Why Should You Change Your Frequent Flyer Number on an Award Ticket?

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Last week, I flew United GlobalFirst from Los Angeles to Melbourne, and in my review of the flight I noted that every time I fly an award ticket, I always go to the kiosk to change my frequent flyer number on the reservation.

TPG reader Ritz read that and emailed me to ask, “Why would you do that?”

Whenever you redeem miles for an award, you don’t earn miles on the trip. However, sometime (once in a blue moon!), if you change your frequent flyer number on a reservation to an account you have with a partner airline, you might actually get awarded miles. There can be technical difficulties between frequent flyer programs and it might slip through the cracks so you get the miles, so it can’t hurt to ask.

I don’t push it – for instance, I would never send in boarding passes after an award flight and claim to deserve compensation with a partner airline. But if airlines want to give me free miles (as has happened from time to time), I won’t decline them!

Always keep your boarding passes until your miles have posted.
I won’t send in boarding passes from award flights claiming miles!

Situations where this is worth a shot include if an airline cancels your original flight and rebooks you into a new revenue class – the chances of getting miles awarded on that new ticket have just increased.

It’s also always a good idea to request a change to the frequent flyer number of the partner airline of the one you are flying with which you have the highest elite status, as this might earn you priority boarding or a free checked bag benefit.

This practice is by no means a sure thing, but it’s one of those quirky things I always do when traveling – and it has paid off in the past.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on FacebookTweeting me or emailing me at

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