Do This Before Booking Award Tickets for Your Family
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
The ability to use your airline miles and book tickets for others is a huge benefit of some frequent flyer programs. For families, it's more than just a benefit. It can be essential to successfully booking award travel since it is unlikely that every single family member has enough miles in his or her account to book their own tickets. Beware though that even if a program allows booking award tickets for family members, the process may not be instant.
Today we're going to look at award programs that require more than a few clicks before you can book family awards instantly. These programs require a little bit of prework, which can take from a few business days to a few weeks to complete before the airline allows you to book award tickets for family members.
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club Family Account Service
As outlined here, American Express transfer partner ANA has incredible award ticket pricing for round-trip flights from the US to Japan starting at only 40,000 miles for economy and 75,000 miles for business. It has some sweet spots on Star Alliance partners, too. My family has always enjoyed ANA flights. If you think you may redeem an ANA award, register your family account service now because it may take two weeks to set up.
To complete that task, head to the ANA Family Account Service page, log in to your ANA account and download the registration form. You must have 1,000 ANA miles in your account to pay the registration fee and download the form (you can transfer those points from Amex Membership Rewards with points earned with a card such as the American Express® Gold Card). ANA members who reside outside Japan can register two to eight family members (including yourself) and 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.
Asiana Club Family Plan
This Korean carrier's loyalty program is overlooked far too often, but it holds tremendous value. One-way business class awards to Europe on any Star Alliance carrier are 40,000 miles, with one-way Lufthansa First Class only costing 50,000 miles. Fuel surcharges can be steep, but with the Bank of America Asiana Visa Signature card, which earns 2x miles at gas and grocery stores, you can relatively quickly earn your family a luxury flight.
This family plan allows up to eight family members, including yourself, to register as long as they are your spouse, children, parents, paternal/maternal grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or parents of your spouse. You need to head to the Family Plan website and download the registration forms. Once you fill those out, you can upload them along with documents proving your family relationship so you are ready to book when Lufthansa First Class comes along.
Japan Airlines JAL Family Club
The more I use JAL Mileage Bank miles, the more I am a fan. You can book multi-stopover domestic itineraries on American Airlines-operated domestic flights for very few JAL miles. Think Atlanta – New York – Chicago – Atlanta with stops as long as you like in both New York and Chicago for a total of 21,000 JAL miles. You can book transatlantic business class on Air France from the East Coast to Paris for 63,000 miles round-trip. There are constant promos that make using JAL miles for transpacific or intra-Asia flights a superb deal. If you are not familiar with this program or the JAL online award booking engine, it's time to put effort into this for the sake of excellent family award travel itineraries.
The Japan Airlines JAL Family Club permits family pooling of 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. Log in to your JAL Mileage Bank account and then head to the JAL Family Enrollment Application website, which will walk you through the entire process. Make sure your family members already have individual JAL accounts before trying to combine everyone into the family program.
Korean Air SKYPASS Family Plan
Sadly, with the loss of the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air, this program will fall by the wayside for most of us as time goes on. That's sad as there are really great award routings, and historically fantastic availability for Korean Air-operated flights. If I need to get my family to Asia, Korean is the first place I look with flights routinely having eight or nine award seats available. You can still earn Korean Air miles by transferring Marriott Rewards points or using the US Bank SKYPASS Visa Signature card.
The Family Plan program permits up to five family members to join. Eligible family members include a spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren. You can log in to your SKYPASS account and add a family member online from your dashboard. You can then upload all required documentation.
Alternatively, fill out the Family Registration Application and submit proof of family documents and notes via fax to 310-417-5696. It can take one to two weeks after submitting your information via fax or online to get a family member registered, so act now.
I've probably received a dozen messages or emails over the last few years from parents asking me if I know any workarounds to some of the above programs so they can quickly book an award ticket for family. Sadly, there really aren't any. When they had to act quickly, these readers and friends either had to pay cash or wait and hope the award availability didn't disappear. Don't get caught in a similar situation. Do your homework now so you can use the above programs when the time comes.