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How Do I Credit Miles to a Partner Airline Program?

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TPG reader Mark emailed to ask about crediting miles to partner airlines:

“I recently started traveling on Emirates for business, but I don’t have much use for their miles. I read your post about banking Emirates miles to Alaska Airlines, which would be more useful to me; how is this done?”

Award travel would be a lot more difficult if you were limited to a single frequent flyer program. Thankfully, airline alliances and partnerships make it possible to earn and redeem miles with a variety of carriers even when they’re not the ones operating your flight. That means you can focus on earning miles with whichever program offers the best value, rather than the one you plan to fly with.

Emirates offers a great product (especially in first class), but the Skywards program has some serious drawbacks, like the hefty surcharges it imposes on awards. Even if you did plan to redeem for flights on Emirates, Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is a much better option. The savvy move is definitely for Mark to credit rewards from his business travel elsewhere.

Most airlines make this pretty easy to do during the booking process. Emirates prompts you to enter frequent flyer information in the Passenger details section of its online reservations system, where you can select from a dozen or so options (including Alaska Airlines). Simply enter your Mileage Plan number and you should earn miles and elite credits for your flight (so long as you’re traveling in an eligible fare class). It’s a good idea to double check your reservation later and make sure your miles are going to the right place.

Alaska Airlines is one of the few programs left that will match your status from another airline outright.
Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is a great option for banking miles from flights on Emirates (and other airlines).

Your experience will be a bit different when you buy airfare through an online travel agency. For example, Expedia lets you select from a list of well over 150 frequent flyer programs, but that doesn’t mean all of those options are eligible to earn miles. On the other hand, Priceline only lets you input a frequent flyer number from the airline you’re actually flying, but in any case, you should be able to select a partner airline by calling the operating carrier once your ticket is confirmed.

Also keep in mind that earning rates may vary depending on where you credit your miles. For example, discount economy flights on Delta still earn 75% of miles flown when credited to Virgin Atlantic, but earn nothing at all when credited to Korean Air SKYPASS. You can maximize your rewards by knowing which partners give you the best return. For more on that, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

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