JetBlue Introduces Family Pooling of Miles – A Great Option, But They’re Not First

Some frequent flyer programs allow ‘ppoling’ of points within a family, everyone flies and then a family member uses everyone’s points for a reward.

Others offer family accounts on the theory that the points belong to the head of household. Family pooling is not uncommon with Middle East programs.

Still others want to reward the decision-maker in travel, Southwest Airlines was one of the first ones with this idea with their ‘Secretaries Program’ in the 1970s where administrative assistants could earn free travel by steering their bosses to fly Southwest. (Another tactic in the 70s was rebating take-home alcohol to passengers buying pricier tickets, when the Civil Aeronautics Board began ‘experimenting’ with price competition and national carriers were permitted to undercut Southwest fares.)

JetBlue has taken a step that’s a first for any North American frequent flyer program. They have introduced family pooling of miles.

On top of their elimination of points expiration, this is a really friendly move. I’m not a huge fan of the redemption options, but they’ve becoming very flexible for earning.

The claim about being the only U.S. or North American frequent flyer program offering this will probably be repeated several times over the next several days, perhaps you’ve already read the claim, and it’s only sort of true.

Delta Skymiles — a US frequent flyer program — has a family share miles plan for residents of Asia. It opened in 2010, and you can no longer register for it, but existing accounts using the option continue to have the ability to do so.

Here are the, quite reasonable, rules (some of which limit the ability to really game this):

  • Families can consist of up to 2 adults and 5 children. At a minimum, there must be 2 individuals in a Family Pooling account.
  • The Head of Household will manage all of the points in their Family Pooling account.
  • Any adult can start a Family Pooling account and be the Head of Household. You just have to be a TrueBlue member to get started.
  • An adult is anyone over the age of 21. A child is anyone under 21.
  • Upon accepting an invitation to begin pooling, each family member will select how many points to contribute upfront (with zero transfer fees) and the percentage of points they want to contribute on an ongoing basis per transaction.
  • Changes in contributions can be made once a year starting on the date the family account was formed.
  • Members are not permitted to join multiple different Family Pooling accounts.

A handful of other programs around the world offer this.

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles offers family membership. Qantas allows family transfers. ANA, Asiana, Etihad, Emirates, JAL, and Korean have pooling options as well.

British Airways has a household option that’s one of the better-known offerings. When you join a family account (up to 7 accounts can be so linked) miles are spent from all accounts when redeeming awards — but you can only redeem miles for people also linked to the household with their accounts (although it is possible to ‘unjoin’ a household).

The BA option is especially nice because they have credit card partners offering generous signup bonuses. Each member of the family can sign up for a card, even though only one person will fly on the miles. (Pooling is more convenient, though of course when family members accumulate miles most programs will let someone else be the one to spend them via an award ticket in the passenger’s name and without the need to transfer.)

It’s much more common to be able to move or pool hotel points than airline miles.

  • Club Carlson recently tightened their rules. You used to be able to transfer points fee-free between any two accounts, in any amount, any time. Since June 1, non-elite members can only transfer to accounts at the same mailing address, the address must have been on their account at least 30 days, and the account must have been open a year. Elites still have free reign.

  • Hyatt Gold Passport lets you transfer points to an any other account in conjunction with claiming an award.

  • Starwood Preferred Guest allows you to transfer points between accounts at the same residential mailing address.

  • Hilton HHonors used to have family accounts, but not longer does.

  • Marriott Rewards lets you transfer points to a legal spouse or domestic partner at time of award redemption.

With all of this, JetBlue is the first U.S. airline that offers family pooling of miles to their U.S. members. That’s a nice added feature – kudos!


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Pingbacks

  1. […] There is a post on View From the Wings claiming that EK permits the transfer of miles among family members. I've looked everywhere and can't find any references to this. I found the regular transfer option and I found the family plan where you get 20% of the base miles, but nothing like what Gary is claiming. Does anybody know what he might be referring to? http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthew…omment-1131958 […]

Comments

  1. Hawaiian Airlines also has a very “sort of” option…. Anyone who has a Hawaiian Airlines Visa card can transfer to any HA member

  2. Does anyone know the specifics of the family transfer option at Emirates? The only thing I have found is the more general ability to transfer but that cost 2.5 cents/mile.

    Is there a separate ability between family members that is free or less costly?

  3. @mogon,

    Yeah, you just have to remember to transfer the miles before you get rid of the card.

    @Gary,

    I think this is useful. I don’t travel on Jet Blue much, but have always liked the service. The wife has sometimes used it to take a trip to NY, and now we can both accumulate miles together to accomplish that. The Jet Blue Amex card is one of the few I may not have cycled through pretty soon here, so may take a shot at it. The fact that the miles don’t expire is also helpful.

    The one thing I’m not clear on is whether to apply for my daughter right now (meaning have her join True Blue), or wait for a XXX miles for joining opportunity. No idea if there has even ever been one…

  4. Yes as pointed out above by @mogon, the Hawaiian Airlines option of transferring miles from/to anyone is the best flexibility. I recently signed up for a Hawaiian Airlines Visa for the bonus points, and then I had both my parents do the same. I them transferred the miles from both their accounts to mine, and ended up with 3 mainland-HI tix out of the deal for only the annual fee and a bit of spending.

    While I’m a big B6 flyer and I think the new program is great, I’d love to see something simpler like the HA program, but I guess they’re worried about people gaming the system in one way or another.

  5. Two thumbs up for the Virgin Australia program — being able to pool status credits has been a real godsend.

  6. As far as I can tell the statement that Emirates allows this is incorrect. They do not allow pooling of accounts. What they do allow is someone other than the person flying to get credited with 20% of the miles the flyer would have received but that is entirely different given one is giving up 80% of the value.

    If anyone knows of a family plan where you actually share the miles, I’d sure love to know.

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