Reader Donna, asked the following question on earning frequent flyer miles:
“I'm ready to purchase airline tickets for my young adult children to fly home for the Thanksgiving holiday. If I log on to my frequent flyer account and purchase the tickets under my kids' names, do I get the frequent flyer miles credited to my account as if I were flying?”
This is a great question and one that we've been asked numerous times in the past. Donna certainly has the right idea in thinking about how to earn points & miles in an efficient manner, however this strategy will unfortunately not work. In general, in order for somebody to earn frequent flyer miles their name needs to be on the ticket that has been booked. In Donna's case from the question above, if her children did not have frequent flyer accounts there wouldn't be any miles earned on this reservation! Because of this, I always reccomend creating frequent flyer accounts for your children or anybody else you are often booking flights for. This is a much better solution than having no earned miles on a paid ticket! It's for this same reason that you are able to keep the frequent flyer miles when you travel for business and your employer buys the ticket.
There are a few airlines that do allow household accounts. This allows travelers who share the same address to pool all of their miles into one account. JetBlue is the most notable domestic carrier offering this service which they launched back in 2013 (Hawaiian Airlines also offers a miles sharing program to members of their cobranded credit card). JetBlue's family pooling program allows up to 2 adults and 5 children to share a single account and select what percentage of points they want to contribute to the Family Pool on an ongoing basis per transaction (you must contribute a minimum of 10% of your TrueBlue points per transaction). From here, the head of household will manage all of the points in the family pooling account. For more information on this service from JetBlue, see their full Terms & Conditions.
Although there are a few carriers that do allow you to pool frequent flyer miles without paying transfer fees, in general you are better off creating frequent flyer accounts for each member of your household and managing the accounts and balances individually. As mentioned above, only the person whose name is on the ticket and doing the actual flying is eligible to earn the miles. Signing up for a frequent flyer account is free and generally doesn't take much time, so don't leave those points on the table. Create your accounts today!