How to combine airline miles
May 27, 2015 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I don't travel enough to really have the hang of the airline miles thing. I'm planning a trip from Chicago to NYC in September with my adult daughter and would like to use what miles I have before they expire.

I don't travel enough to really have the hang of the airline miles thing. I'm planning a trip from Chicago to NYC in September with my adult daughter and would like to use what miles I have before they expire.

I have 32,942 award miles on United, which is enough for one round-trip ticket (but not two). I also have 17,200 miles on American and 2,261 on Finnair. Is there any way to transfer the American and Finnair miles to United? I found Points.com, but they don't have any trades for the programs I belong to.

I can't see any way on the United website to book two tickets together, using miles for one and paying for the other. I'm reluctant to book myself an award ticket only to find that I can't get my daughter on the same planes. I can call and ask a United agent to work this out, but they charge something like $25 for the call.

I checked out the FlyerTalk forums/fora but wasn't able to find a specific answer other than "not possible to transfer miles between One World alliance airlines."

So sorry, this is really two questions:
Is there any way to combine my miles so we can both get award trips?
Failing that, is there any way to book an award trip and a paid trip together?
posted by Joleta to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
 
I don't think there's any way to transfer American and Finnair miles to United, because United is part of a different alliance. (There may be a way but if there is I don't know it.)

I would book one awards ticket and one cash ticket in two tabs simultaneously. That's definitely possible: I've done it a bunch of times. And with most airlines you can revert the paid ticket within 24 hours, so maybe push the button on it first.

Sorry I don't know more. Maybe other people will.
posted by Susan PG at 7:05 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chicago to NYC must be like... A few hundred bucks, right? Those 32k miles would be much better used for a longer distance.
I'd consider selling them to someone (this is called transferring miles) versus "wasting" them on this short trip.
posted by k8t at 7:14 PM on May 27, 2015


When you book your award ticket, look how many seats are available. You should be able to easily gauge whether you can get the paid ticket. There is absolutely no way you won't be able to get two seats together for a flight that far ahead.

You can't combine miles across programs.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:30 PM on May 27, 2015


k8t is right that that's a lot of miles for a relatively short flight. If you're worried about miles expiring but would otherwise save them for a later trip, United (and most other airlines), has a shopping portal. If you buy something (with cash not miles) through the portal, then you earn miles and so your miles won't expire for another 18 months. I just bought a song for $1 on iTunes, so it doesn't have to be something expensive. This is the link to the shopping portal. To get there from the main page, rollover "MileagePlus" in the top left and hit "Earn Miles" and then click MileagePlus Shopping.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 7:55 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Agree that Chicago-NYC isn't a great use of miles, but if you want to do it anyway, you could try booking two one-way flights on United for the two of you in one direction (should be 12,500 each) and then a one-way award on American the other direction paired with a paid one-way flight for the other.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 8:29 PM on May 27, 2015


For what it's worth, I have in the past successfully secured travel for two people by purchasing one awards ticket on a particular flight and paying the usual fare for the second one. I did it as two separate transactions. For peace of mind, it helps to have two people on two different laptops for this — one on the awards website and one on the regular fare website. It also helps to use a site like Kayak which shows you how many seats are available at a given fare on a given flight.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:09 AM on May 28, 2015


I'd consider selling them to someone (this is called transferring miles)

Selling your miles is against the terms of most if not all frequent flyer programs. You may choose to not care, but there are long threads on Flyertalk about people getting their miles taken away and accounts shut down for selling miles. I don't recommend it.
posted by primethyme at 5:11 AM on May 28, 2015


Great suggestions from everyone. I'll consider saving the miles for a longer trip, but I don't have anything planned. Guess I'll have to buy some iTunes songs to keep my miles active. Thanks @matildatakesovertheworld for the reminder.

@EmilyClimbs: Such a simple solution! Why didn't I think of that?

I may also try the "two tabs" thing to book award travel and paid travel semi-simultaneously.

Thanks all!
posted by Joleta at 2:56 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Starting over in your 50s   |   Help me think of a name for my handmade jewelry... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.