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Virtually all frequent flyer programs allow you to book a ticket for someone else – most programs do not have restrictions and you can generally book a ticket for anyone as long as you aren’t “selling” it or going against the rules of the frequent flyer program. Some programs only let you redeem miles for close family and require proof – whether you are redeeming for a family member or friend, there are some important things you need to know.

For Which People Can You Redeem Your Miles?

Every frequent flyer program has their own rules. Most frequent flyer programs allow you to redeem your miles for anyone.

There are, however, some frequent flyer programs where you can only redeem your miles for other members of your family and some of those programs even require you to send in proof. This mostly applies to programs from Asia.

There are also some programs that let you redeem your miles for “redemption nominees”. Basically you can add in anyone to your account as a nominee and then you can redeem miles for that nominee. It gets tricky when you want to modify your list of nominees – some programs charge you miles or cash to change nominees and some programs even restrict you how often you can make changes to this list.

Nevertheless, if you are using a North American or European program, you should be able to redeem for anyone without issue.

Frequent Flyer Programs May Need to Verify Redemptions

There is a lot of fraud going around whereby people are selling miles or accounts to others and then booking tickets using those miles. There are a lot of steps programs take to limit fraud and one of those is suspending tickets that are booked until you are able to verify that you legitimately made a redemption for someone else.

For example, Air France/KLM Flying Blue loves to do verifications on award tickets. I booked some tickets recently for members of my family who have different last names than me using my miles – a few hours passed and I received emails from Flying Blue asking me to call in and verify I redeemed miles for these people.

In some cases a quick call or reply to an email was fine, but in others I needed to send proof and documents that were requested by the frequent flyer program.

Remember These “Red Flags”

Frequent flyer programs are smart and they have several mechanisms in place to make sure you are playing by their rules. Their systems look for certain account patterns and if too many patterns are detected that seem suspicions, your account could be locked until they complete an investigation.

Some red flags can include:

  • transferring in a large amount of points into a new account
  • redeeming tickets for others more than you do for yourself
  • redeeming miles last minute for others

Now, if you are legitimately transferring in a large amount of miles into a brand new account and then booking a ticket for a family member last minute… you will probably be fine – but just remember to check your phone and email for any messages from a program for verification. Be sure to also regularly check up on your booking as some programs have been known to cancel tickets without any messages to the member or flyer.

Redeem Points for Miles.. Not Always Instant

The beauty of collecting flexible and transferable points with a bank program is the ability to transfer those to airlines or hotels, usually at a 1:1 ratio via an instant transfer. This works brilliantly… until it doesn’t. Lately I have seen more and more reports of points to miles transfers not being instant, when they should be instant (as that was always the case).

There are a few reasons why a points to miles transfer may be slowed down:

  • the frequent flyer account you are transferring points to is new
  • you are transferring a large amount of points
  • the names on your bank account and airline account do not exactly match

More and more I have seen that if you have just created an account with an airline and want to transfer over 100k points to it, the transfer will not always be instant. Banks and airlines are both implementing more and more mechanisms to reduce fraud and unfortunately, legitimate redemptions get caught up in this. Award space comes and goes very quickly so when a transfer isn’t instant, it can quickly ruin your flight plans. It never hurts to sign up for the major frequent flyer programs ahead of time, just so you have accounts and they aren’t new when it comes time to transfer points to them.

All in All

Sharing your miles and booking a ticket for others is wonderful – as you can truly share the world and travel with your loved ones. In most cases, it is fairly easy and simple to redeem miles for other people, but you must remember these important points mentioned. When booking a ticket for others, make sure to closely monitor the reservation and watch out for calls or emails from an airline program as they may want to verify the redemption – and remember, always follow the rules of the airline programs.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.