Can We Pool Our Miles to Book Business-Class Award Flights?

Sep 4, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week — Mondays and Fridays — by TPG Editor-at-Large Zach Honig.

Some airline programs offer better award availability than others, but American’s race to the bottom has left many loyal flyers with a frustrating disAAdvantage. After feeling the burn when searching for Oneworld award flights to Europe, TPG reader Martin reached out for support via email — while he’s willing to redeem for pricier AAnytime travel, he doesn’t have enough miles in his account to pull it off…

How can I transfer my wife’s miles to my account to book our award flights to Europe? My wife will not make this trip unless we can obtain at least business-class seats.

TPG Reader Martin

The good news is that this is certainly possible — you can transfer American Airlines miles from your account to your wife’s. Simply head to AA’s transfer page, select the number of miles you’d like to transfer and pay the fee.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… “these are my miles; why would I have to pay a fee?” Unfortunately with the vast majority of US-based frequent flyer programs, the airline’s going to look to collect some cash wherever it can, including transferring miles — even to your spouse. In American’s case, you’ll pay $12.50 for every 1,000 miles you transfer, plus a $15 processing fee, with a cap of 200,000 miles per year. While this could make sense to close a small gap on an award, transferring the full amount will cost you a whopping $2,515. Similarly, you’ll pay $10 for every 1,000 transferred miles with Delta, plus a $30 fee, while United charges $15 for every 1,000 miles, plus the same $30 fee. No thanks!

Martin further explains that he has a a considerable balance in his own account, but not enough to book the round-trip AAnytime flights he wants. Of course, an alternative would be to book some flights from his account and some from his wife’s. He also explained that while he recently added the AAdvantage Aviator Red Card, his wife doesn’t have one yet, and she’d consider signing up. With the current offer, she could boost her balance by 60,000 miles, and could add another 75,000 miles after spending $7,500 with the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard — even with the $450 annual fee, that offer probably makes more sense than paying to transfer miles. That’ll leave her with 135,000 miles, which is exactly what she’d need for a one-way AAnytime Level 2 award to Europe. While that’s an awful lot of miles to redeem for a one-way business-class flight, it sound like Martin’s options may be limited here.

Fortunately some programs offer more flexibility when it comes to transferring miles — while you’re out of luck with American, JetBlue customers can choose to pool their points with family members, as can members of several international programs. For more tips and trips, see 10 Tips for Booking Family Award Travel.

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