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5 Ways Families Can Get More From Their Miles

July 25, 2018
9 min read
Side View Of Boy Sitting In Airplane
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In just another month, my daughter will hit a major milestone for points and miles families: she'll turn two years old. That means she'll need her own plane ticket, which will increase the amount of points and miles I have to redeem by 33% whenever our family of four wants to take to the skies. With this milestone lingering over my head, today I'll cover five ways that traveling families can get more out of their miles. Use these strategies to save on both cash and the total miles required for your next award ticket, whether you're flying domestically or heading across the globe.

1. ANA Award Flights to Japan

American Express transfer partner and Japanese airline ANA tops the list of ways families can get more for their miles, because of the low number of miles required to fly ANA-operated flights from the US to Japan (and beyond). Round-trip flights to Japan begin at just 40,000 miles per person in economy during the low season from New York (JFK), Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC) and Washington Dulles (IAD).

ANA has low, regular, and high seasons on its award chart, with prices varying for each time period. Here's the date chart for the 2018-19 seasons:

Here are the prices to fly round trip to Japan from the US mainland and Hawaii during each of the three seasons for economy (Y), business (C), and first (F):

During low season, a family of four can fly round-trip to Japan for 160,000 total miles in economy or 300,000 miles in business. There's no other program I know of that will get your entire family across the Pacific and back for this few miles. Even in regular season, prices in economy and business only rise by 10,000 miles per person. If both parents are fortunate enough to be targeted for the 100,000-point welcome offer (offer subject to change at anytime) on The Platinum Card® from American Express, your family can have round-trip flights to Japan for five people. ANA's onboard product is fantastic and availability is pretty good for multiple seats in economy.

2. Miles & More Children's Flight Awards

(Photo by Peter Muller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Muller/Getty Images)

Children between ages 2-11 receive 25% off the miles required for an adult award ticket in Lufthansa's Miles & More loyalty program if an accompanying adult is also on the flight.

Miles & More is an SPG transfer partner and the Miles & More World Elite Mastercard is issued by Barclays. The card is currently offering a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus — 20,000 miles after first purchase and 30,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. Round-trip awards from the US to Germany start at 50,000 miles for an adult and 37,500 miles for children.

A family of four could currently transfer 145,000 SPG Starpoints to Miles & More to have 175,000 miles after the SPG transfer bonus — the amount required for two adults and two children between ages 2-11 to fly round trip economy from the US to Europe on eligible flights. Use the mileage calculator to see how many Miles & More miles are required for your desired itinerary. Of note for families is that Miles & More plans to allow families to pool their miles together, although this functionality seems currently limited to its app and for those with addresses in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

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3. Pool Miles for Easier Redemptions

It's great when my kids earn miles, but so far they haven't really earned enough to book award tickets. Instead, what's nice are the multiple airline frequent flyer programs which now allow you to pool miles as a family and then have a single bulk amount to redeem, rather than managing multiple kids' accounts with a few thousand orphaned miles or points.

NEW YORK, NY - August 27, 2016: A JetBlue Airways passenger plane is serviced at a gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport. JFK International Airport is in the borough of Queens in New York City. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

JetBlue is the only major US airline Hawaiian offers the feature to a subset of its customers who have its credit card or check card, as does Frontier.

If you include international carriers, you’ll have a few more solid choices — British Airways has household accounts in which seven people in the same household can combine points, as does Etihad for up to nine family members. Asiana, Korean and Qantas have more restricted forms of pooling, and Japan Airlines will register you for the JAL Family Club for a 1,000-mile initiation fee. Make sure to go ahead and register your family members now for the Asian airlines, a few of which require proof submitted via birth certificates or marriage certificates. You don't want to run into quickly trying to get someone registered when you find award availability.

For a full list of airlines who offer the ability to put your miles together into one big pot, check out our guide to "21 Airlines That Allow Families to Pool Miles."

4. Book Lap Infant Awards Online with British Airways

Booking lap infant award tickets comes with its own set of headaches. Most carriers charge 10% of the adult fare for a lap infant, but actually finding that fare and getting an airline to issue the infant ticket — and ensuring any partners on the itinerary can also see it — takes way too much effort, expense and stress.

Photo credit: Richard Kerr and his lap infant daughter

With traveling with my kids, booking myself with British Airways Avios makes sense, because I prefer to book lap infants for 10% of the Avios required for an adult ticket instead of paying 10% of the going adult fare. You can book lap infants online at the same time you book any adult or child tickets, and it makes the whole lap infant situation infinitely easier. Of note, child award tickets cost the same as adult tickets once they're no longer lap infants.

My son was born in Japan, and for 4,950 British Airways Avios — 4,500 for adult and 450 for a lap infant — we'd regularly hop around the country on Japan Airlines. Spending 450 Avios was always worth it to avoid any headaches of getting my son added to my ticket or trying to communicate in Japanese that he was a lap infant and didn't need a ticket.

Remember that for domestic US flights, your lap infant doesn't need a paid ticket — you can simply add them at the check-in counter or book them onto your reservation online. Even when traveling domestically, be sure to bring proof they're under two-years-old just in case. Lap infant awards booked with Avios are great to get your young family around the Caribbean on British Airways fifth-freedom routes like Grand Cayman to Nassau.

I don't know of any other award program that lets you book lap infant tickets online at this favorable of a rate. If you're flying a Star Alliance airline for your award redemption, Aeroplan offers fixed-price lap-infant awards that are bookable by phone.

5. Asiana Club Children Tickets

Korean airline Asiana, a Star Alliance member, offers 25% off the miles required for children ages 2-12 for domestic Korean itineraries, and children ages 2-11 for international itineraries on Asiana-operated flights. You can book child tickets online, but as mentioned above, you need to register your family members before booking.

Round-trip tickets from the US to Korea in economy are 70,000 Asiana miles for an adult, and 52,500 miles for children ages 2-11. Round-trip business to Korea from the US is 105,000 miles for adults and 75,750 miles for children. These prices are not bad for a solid product to fly over the Pacific. You can earn Asiana miles by transferring from SPG or by signing up for the Asiana Visa Signature Card from Bank of America, which is offering 30,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. The card also earns 2 miles per dollar on gas and grocery store purchases.

Bottom Line

SAS Eurobonus, Iceland Air Saga Club and TAP Air Portugal Victoria also offer child discounts on award tickets, but here in the US, we don't have an easy avenue to earn many miles in these programs. I'm glad there are a few programs we have access to which allow for discounted child award tickets. I'm most excited by how few ANA miles are required for a trip to Asia, and that I still have another month left to book my daughter as a lap infant ticket online using British Airways Avios.

Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm