Tag Archives: airline miles

Here’s Why Your Family May Want to “Pool” Your Airline Miles

More and more airlines are allowing passengers to “pool” their miles in a shared account. What does this mean? It’s a quicker path to award tickets, particularly for families. If two parents and two kids each have 15,000 miles in separate accounts, those miles aren’t particularly useful. But a combined pool of 60,000 miles can probably cover at least one person’s flights on the family’s next trip.

Here’s how it helped me snag two free seats: My husband and trumpet-playing son are headed to a trumpet conference. By pooling the mileage they had collectively earned on past United flights, we were able to accumulate enough miles to cover this trip. Airlines that don’t allow mileage pooling extract hefty fees when you don’t have quite enough for an award ticket: You must pay either to “gift” miles to someone else or to buy the extra miles you need.

In this case, my husband and son each had enough miles for one ticket, but purchasing their flights separately would have required identifying my son as an unaccompanied minor—even though his dad would be on the same flights under a separate ticket—and it risked having their reservations rebooked separately if anything went wrong. So pooling their miles provided additional benefits to make their travel smoother.

United is the latest airline to adopt mileage pooling, but a bunch of other airlines already have this system in place, from JetBlue and Hawaiian to British Airways and Emirates. The rules of who can pool mileage and how to do so vary by airline, but I can tell you that United’s process takes several days—you have to wait 72 hours after you join a pool to contribute or redeem miles, and there’s an additional 24-hour waiting period between when you transfer miles into a pool and when you can use them to book a flight. By the time I jumped through all those hoops, the miles required for the flights I wanted had gone up, so I had to add more miles and wait an extra day. But it was still preferable to shelling out more than $600 for the flights; next time I’ll make sure our pool has more miles than what’s needed for the flights I have my eye on, in case the required redemption amount goes up in the interim.

So now that it’s easier for your family to redeem your collective frequent-flier miles, where do you want to go? If you know when you can travel, check out our favorite destinations by month. You’ll also find inspiration in our travelers’ reviews of their best trips, organized by traveler type, trip theme, destination, and more. If you’d like our advice on where to go, click the black button below.



Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

How to Get More For Your Miles and Points in 2023

You could be saving thousands of dollars on better award flights and nicer lie-flat seats in premium cabins. Gary Leff, the miles-and-points genius who writes View From The Wing and founded Book Your Award, shared how in our WOW Week 2023 Travel Talks. Watch the video, and read the top takeaways below, for dozens of tips for maximizing your miles and points. Gary recently merged Book Your Award into Point.me, a new service with great tools for do-it-yourself search for award seats. Check it out!

5 top takeaways

Know which airlines have the most award seats.
For international trips, especially in business class, there is often not much availability on U.S. airlines. You’ll find many more award seats available on those U.S. airlines’ international partners.

  • Air France, for instance, flies to numerous U.S. cities, and it’s easy to transfer credit-card points to Air France’s mileage program. (Air France is a partner of Delta’s, but it offers a lot more award-seat availability to people using Air France miles than to those using Delta miles.)
  • Singapore Airlines (a United Airlines partner) releases business-class seats reliably a year in advance. It’s a great way to get to Europe and Japan. You can transfer credit-card points to Singapore Airlines, and you can also frequently use Alaska and Air Canada miles, even though those seats likely will not be bookable using United’s miles.
  • Qatar Airways (an American Airlines partner) has one of the best business-class products in the world, and it reliably releases award seats about a year in advance. It’s a great way to connect through the Middle East and Africa.
  • There are specific routes that have a lot of award seats too. Ultimately, it’s airlines that have too much capacity that offer award seats at a good value. And certain airlines may be flying to the U.S., or to a specific city, for a reason other than demand. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar all fly to Dulles airport in Washington, D.C.—because they believe it’s important to serve Washington, D.C.

You can often get the same seat for fewer miles through a foreign airline’s program.
Numerous foreign airline programs sell the same seats for less. For instance, you can sometimes book Delta business class for a quarter of the points if you book it through Virgin Atlantic’s mileage program. Turkish Airlines charges just 7,500 points each way for a domestic United flight in coach, and 12,500 points for United business class (including Hawaii). United charges three times as much for their own flights! (Citi, Capital One, and Bilt points all transfer to Turkish Airlines.) You can book Iberia business class between the U.S. and Europe starting at 68,000 miles roundtrip when using Iberia’s miles. Booking those same seats through American Airlines AAdvantage would cost 115,000 miles.

When you can, collect credit-card points (that you can transfer to your choice of airlines) instead of miles with just one airline.
It’s better to have American Express points than Delta miles, for instance. That’s because American Express points transfer to Delta plus additional airlines. Similarly, it’s better to have Chase points than United miles. You want points that can be transferred to whichever airline is offering the best deal on available seats for the trip you want when you want it. As mentioned above, Air France offers better availability to travelers using Air France miles (that they got by transferring credit-card points to Air France) than to travelers using Delta miles. Similarly, Singapore offers better availability to travelers using Singapore miles (that they got by transferring credit-card points to Singapore Airlines) than to travelers using United miles.

Award tickets are easier to get than upgrades.
The conventional wisdom used to be that the best use of miles was to upgrade paid tickets. Nowadays, however, upgrades are tougher to get than awards. That’s because it’s easier to get award seats on partner airlines. By contrast, if you try to upgrade, you usually end up waitlisted, and if you don’t have top elite status with the airline, you’ll be at the bottom of the list.

Because U.S. airlines now allow free cancellation and redeposit of mileage, you can book a “worst case scenario” itinerary and then work to improve it. United, Delta, and American no longer charge fees to cancel an award ticket and redeposit the miles. So, if you can find an itinerary that will do, lock in the trip. It may not be perfect, but it lets you lock down the rest of your travel. Now you have all the time between booking and departure to go back and search again for awards, and if you find something better, consider a change; there will be no extra fees to do it.


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Aerial view of a river and mountains in New Zealand

Live Answers to Your Travel Questions: Join Us on Zoom for WOW Week 2023 January 23–27

UPDATE: WOW Week 2023 is now over. Thank you all for joining us! We have posted the Zoom recordings below, in case you missed any talks or want to share them with your friends. Stay up to date by signing up for our newsletter



This year is shaping up to be a huge one for international travel. Now that so many countries have dropped their Covid entry requirements, many more people worldwide will be traveling abroad. And in some countries—all in different stages of ramping back up post-pandemic—local inflation and staffing shortages mean higher costs, longer lines, and trickier logistics. Not to worry: We’ve got the solutions, and we’ll be sharing them during WOW Week, January 23 – 27, when we’ll host a Travel Talk every day at 7 pm EST and answer your burning travel questions.



Where and When To Travel in 2023

Monday, January 23, at 7 pm EST

With many more people worldwide making international trips this year than last, prices will be higher and logistics more challenging. It will be especially important to choose your destinations wisely and time your trips smartly. Wendy, Brook, and Carolyn shared dozens of tips for doing so.



Fly Smarter This Year: Best Flights, Seats, and Fares

Tuesday, January 24, at 7 pm EST

Will airfares ever drop, and to where? Which parts of the world will be the best value to fly to in 2023? When should you book your summer flights? Airline expert Brett Snyder, founder of Cranky Concierge, answered these questions and many more.



Protect Your Trip—and Your Health—in 2023

Wednesday, January 25, at 7 pm EST

Too many people find out too late that they should have bought travel insurance or an emergency medical-assistance membership. So we brought in experts to demystify these seemingly complicated topics, and to help you understand how you can—and can’t—protect your health and your financial investment.



New Ways to See the World by Water

Thursday, January 26, at 7 pm EST

There are parts of the world that are best seen from the water, and there is a growing array of unusual itineraries and small ships for doing so. Cruise expert Carolyn Spencer Brown, joined by Wendy and Brook, talked about cool ways to explore the world’s waterways in 2023.



Get More for Your Miles and Points in 2023

Friday, January 27, at 7 pm EST

You could be saving thousands of dollars on better award flights and nicer lie-flat seats in premium cabins. Gary Leff, writer of View From The Wing and founder of Book Your Award (now merged into Point.me), shared dozens of tips for maximizing your miles and points.



A big thank-you to our WOW Week sponsor, Medjet.

Medjet is a global air medical transport and travel security membership program that can give travelers greater peace of mind. Their sponsorship enables me, Brook, Carolyn, Kristine, and the rest of our growing team to spend time answering your travel questions (via our Get a Personalized Trip Recommendation feature) and finding the smartest trip-planning specialists for you (see Wendy’s WOW List).

Don’t miss this special WOW Week discount

Medjet is offering our WOW Week audience an exclusive discount of 10% off New Medjet Annual Memberships. The deal is available from Mon January 23 at 9am ET till Mon January 30 at 5 pm ET. You can learn more about Medjet and get the deal by clicking the red button below. 



wallet full of credit cards

Best Credit Cards for Canadian Travelers

Using the right credit card is a smart way to maximize your travel booking power, and there are several that we recommend every traveler have in his or her arsenal. Some cards come with sign-up bonuses, others offer the potential to earn valuable points you can trade for hotel stays and flights, and others reward you with cash back.

We regularly update our Best Credit Cards for Travelers list, and every time we do, we are gently reminded by our Canadian readers that our advice is very useful…unless you live in Canada. That’s because Canadians can’t apply for a U.S. credit card unless they have a U.S. bank account and a U.S. address. In the interest of serving all of you globetrotters who reside in Canada, we reached out to our old friend and miles-and-points expert Gary Leff, who writes View from the Wing and founded BookYourAward.com.

“The Canadian card market isn’t quite as lucrative or competitive as the U.S. market,” Gary explained. “And it’s also somewhat in flux, because Air Canada is going to be ending its relationship with Aeroplan (the frequent-flier program that it spun off) and starting its own new program. As a result the value of accumulated unused Aeroplan miles is likely to fall. As a result my three favorite Canadian cards are American Express products.”

Here are Gary’s picks for the best credit cards for Canadian travelers:

• Starwood American Express: This has been a go-to in the U.S. for me for 16 years and is pretty similar in Canada.

• Gold Rewards: This one earns Membership Rewards points, which transfer to a variety of airline mileage programs (different programs than the U.S. cards have access to).

• Simply Cash Preferred: For cash back, this one gets you 2% rebates.

If you have any questions (for us or Gary), let us know in the comments below. And be sure to follow Gary on ViewFromtheWing.com for the latest insider info and explanations of the world of miles and points.


Photo credit: Plant Hide


Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’s reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.