Earning frequent flyer miles for your kids just got a little easier
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
You already know flying with a little kiddo isn't always easy, but historically it wasn't always easy to open a frequent flyer account for your children either. There can be extra steps for creating these accounts for minors with red tape such as enrollment and consent forms, phone calls and the necessity of extra email addresses.
However, one major U.S. airline -- Delta -- actually just made it much easier for kids to earn miles as it eliminated the need to download, complete and send in a separate form just to register a child for a SkyMiles account. Now, you simply click a button verifying you are the child's parent or guardian and you can open the SkyMiles account instantly online.
Related: TPG’s best airlines for families
But while Delta just made it easier to earn miles for your kids, some other programs are still more complex. TPG has already written about why kids who fly need their own email addresses for loyalty program purposes. That, too, can be tricky because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that protects the privacy of children under 13. Some online providers will not issue an email address if they know it is for a minor. But there are special products and workarounds that can help such as Google's Family Link.
What other hurdles might you have to jump? Let's take a look, airline by airline. And remember, you have to buy a seat for your child in order for him or her to earn miles. Lap infants might earn passport stamps, but they don't earn miles.
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How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian can enroll a child in Mileage Plan online (click the "Sign Up" button on the homepage) if they are at least 13, or by calling customer care (800-654-5669) or the reservations call center (800-252-7522) if they are under 13.
Required info: Minor's name, gender, date of birth, address and phone number, plus an email address and preferred user ID if you sign up for an online account
Note: Children under 13 are not eligible for an online My Account profile, but can be enrolled in Mileage Plan by calling Alaska Airlines at 1-(800) 252-7522.
Related: Airline car seat and bassinet policies around the world
How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian needs to enroll a child who's 13 or younger. You may do so online. Go to AA.com's homepage and click "AAdvantage" and then "Join AAdvantage."
Notably, American Airlines recently ceased expiring the miles of children who are enrolled in AAdvantage as you are now exempt from the requirement to earn or redeem miles every 18 months until after you turn 21.
Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, email, phone number, a preferred username and three security questions. If your child has a Known Traveler Number, you enter it on the enrollment form as well.
Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage.
How kids can join: Parents can now enroll children 13 and under online for a SkyMiles account by simply clicking a button certifying they are the parent or guardian. You will need to enter an email address, user name, password and answer two security questions such as father's middle name, first school or first pet.
Required info: Minor's name, date of birth and address.
Note: As a new member, the child can receive mileage credit for flights taken up to nine months prior to enrollment.
Related: How to save your family money with an annual Delta companion ticket
How kids can join: Parents can register their children (13 or younger) for their own Frontier frequent flyer account online (go to the homepage and click the "sign up" text in the upper right corner) or by contacting the call center at (801) 401-9000.
Required info: Minor's name, gender, date of birth, address, telephone number plus an email address if signing up for an online account.
Note: As with adult Frontier Miles accounts, your child's miles will expire after six months if there is no activity. However, Frontier does offer family pooling to those with elite status or the cobranded Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®, so it is possible to pool child and parent miles together.
Related: Everything you need to know about Frontier's Kids Fly Free program
How kids can join: Parents can enroll their kids in HawaiianMiles online (click "Join Now" on the homepage) or by calling reservations (1-800-367-5320) or the HawaiianMiles service center (1-877-426-4537).
Required info: Username and email address for online account plus name, gender, date of birth, address and phone number. You'll also have to set up three account security questions, select any email subscriptions and accept the terms of the HawaiianMiles program.
Note: Hawaiian Airlines considers anyone 18 or under a minor but a parent or legal guardian can sign their child up for a frequent flyer account.
Related: 5 reasons to fly Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii
How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian can enroll kids 13 years old or younger into JetBlue TrueBlue. Log into your TrueBlue account and open the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right corner. Choose "enroll a child."
Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, email address, phone number, physical address, gender, Known Traveler Number (if your child has Global Entry or TSA PreCheck) and whether or not you want your child's points pooled with your family account. JetBlue offers family pooling to all members, with no elite status or credit card required.
Note: Your child's email account must not be used by any other JetBlue member.
Related: 10 tips for flying JetBlue with kids
How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian has to enroll their child in Southwest Rapid Rewards. You can do so online (click "enroll" at the top of the homepage), via the Southwest mobile app or by calling reservations at 1-800-248-4377.
Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, email address, username and two security questions
Related: How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass
How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian must enroll children who are 13 or younger. Sign up online. Click "Sign-In" on the homepage and then click "Sign Up Now." Under the current Free Spirit loyalty program, miles expire very quickly, so it might not have been worth your time to enroll your kids unless they took Spirit flights every couple months. But as the revamped Free Spirit program launches on Jan. 21, 2021, this issue is no longer a problem, since the points won’t expire unless there are 12 months of no account activity.
Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, email address and physical address.
Related: Here are five things to love about Spirit Airlines
How kids can join: Sign up online at United's website. Click "Sign in" at the upper right of the homepage and then click "Enroll in MileagePlus."
Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, phone number and email address.
Note: Only individuals 18 and older can sign up for a United MileagePlus account on their own. A parent or legal guardian must enroll their children who are under 18.
Related: Guide to maximizing United's frequent flyer program
At least within the U.S., it is never too early to sign your kids up for a frequent flyer account -- especially now that miles from many airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest never expire. Even American Airlines will no longer expire the miles of kids until after they turn 21, so start your kids earning miles now so they can get a free award ticket down the line.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson
Photo courtesy of Lisa5201/Getty Images