For longer that I’ve written this blog, I have been a part of the travel rewards community. Collecting frequent flyer miles and other travel loyalty points is daily part of my financial and travel planning. Miles and points save my family thousands each year on travel and enable us to travel much more often and occasionally much more luxuriously on our budget.
I realize that not everyone is quite as geeky as I am when it comes to miles. There is a learning curve and it’s one more thing to manage. Nevertheless, I must admit that my mind is a little blown when I hear aboutfamilies who travel regularly who leave tons ofeasy free travel for their family on the table – specifically when it comes to their kids.
Every few months, I am reminded ina conversation that most parents either a) don’t know that their kids are eligible for frequent flyer accounts or b) if they do, just haven’t gotten around to enrolling their kids yet. Many others opt not to collect miles for their kids because they believetheir kids don’t fly often enough to avoid expiration problems. Believe it or not, there are quite a few travel bloggers even who fall into these fallacies!
So, I’m here to educate and motivate the less geeky among you. Time to get with the program when it comes to frequent flyer miles and your offspring! Here’s what you need to know about getting and maintaining frequent flyer accounts for kids. (Spoiler alert: it’s easier than ever.)
(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)
Are Kids Even Eligible for Frequent Flyer Accounts? Yes!
First things first: every major US airline allows minors of any age to accrue miles in a frequent flyer account, as long as they are traveling on their own ticket. So as soon as you buy a seat for your child, you should get an account opened in the child’s name.
My now 8 year old son has had a Southwest Rapid Rewards account sincehe was 4months old, when we optedbuy a seat for him on a long cross-country flight rather than carry him as a lap baby. His flying on Southwest has really added up over the years, earning multiple free flights. Over the years, he and his sister have joined the airline programs on United, American, JetBlue, Alaska, and Delta as well.
Related: Complete Guide for Flying Southwest Airlines with Kids
Since most of our family’s travel has been domestic, the kids haven’t joined any international airline programs yet (although my husband and I have had numerous accounts with these airlines ourselves). But many foreign carriers allow kids to join as well. The few that don’t allow mileage accrual for kids is perhaps where some of the misinformation comes from about kids being able to have their own accounts.
Finally, someairlines actually have innovative frequent flyer programs that are flexibleand targeted to families. British Airways, for example, offers a “Household Account” option that lets family members easily combine points. US airline JetBlue also has a family pooling option of its own. Be sure to check out my guide to flying JetBlue with kids for all the tips on using it. Even ultra low cost carrier Frontier offers a version of family pooling
No, It Doesn’t Take Much Time to Open Frequent Flyer Accounts for Kids
A refrain I often hear is that “I’ve just not had the time to get around to opening accounts for my kids.” Given how easy it (mostly) is to open frequent flyer accounts these days online, don’t let that be an excuse.
Opening a frequent flyer account for a child with most airlines takes all of about 3-5 minutes. I was originally inspired to write this post when I was booking flights for a trip on American Airlines and realized my son didn’t yet have an AAdvantage account. While I was filling in the flight reservation data, I popped open another browser window and signed him up for AAdvantage in minutes.
I could have waited and added the account number to the reservation later, but it’s actually often more time consuming to do that. Best to get the frequent flyer account before you even book a flight for the child! But even if you have already booked a flight without a frequent flyer number for the child, you can always open an account and add it to the reservation before you fly or at the airport.
The majoroutlier that takes a little more time to set upis Alaska Airlines. Alaska allows you to open a Mileage Plan account for your child but not to have online access to it if the child is under 13. You need to call their call center to get an account opened. Their call center is easily the best of the US airlines and hold times are very short, so you should be able to get an Alaska account in under 15 minutes if you call at the right time.
(Editor’s Note: There are some reports that a couple of other airlines may require an extra step now due to strengthened privacy laws for minors. Leave your recent experiences in the comments, please!)
It’s Easy To Keep Your Child’s Miles Active
The final excuse I often hear from family travelers for not getting mileage account for their kids is that they don’t travel enough. They assume that their children’s miles will just expire before they accrue enough for a free flight.
No Expiration Date Airlines
While miles used to expire quickly in the frequent flyer programs of old, that is increasingly no longer true. Most US airlines no longer have expiration dates on their miles at all (kudos to Delta who gets credit for starting this trend with SkyMiles).
The US airlines that have no expiration date policies on their frequent flyer miles as of early 2022 now include:
- Delta Airlines SkyMiles
- JetBlue trueBlue
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
American Airlines expires miles after 18 months of no activity but this rule doesn’t apply to anyone under age 21. So while you’ll have to watch your own accounts, you won’t have to worry about your kids’ miles expiring.
So, even if you and your kids are infrequent travelers, it’s worth taking the couple of minutes to open an account when you fly one of these airlines.
How to Keep Accounts with Expiration Dates Active
For the few airlines that remain that do have expiration dates (I’m looking at you Alaska and American for adults at least!), keeping accounts active requires a couple of extra steps. Even so, it’s truly easier than ever to keep these airline accounts active.
All it takes is a nominal redemption or earning transaction. One mile in or one mile out will do it. You can easily earn miles now through various social media promotions that airlines sometimes run, through renting a car and linking your airline frequent flyer number, through some hotel stays, through having an airline’s credit card, or through using an airline dining program or shopping portal. You can also redeem miles through programs like exchanging for a magazine subscription or even just buying music download.
Afraid you’ll miss the expiration date in time to do one of these simple redemptions or miles-earning transactions? There’s an app for that. The best way to track mileage expiration dates is through a site called Award Wallet. Plug all your login data for each airline (for every family member) into the tool and it tracks expiration dates for you, even sending e-mail reminders as deadlines approach. I track over 25 different airline mileage programs (not to mention 16 more hotel and other loyalty point programs) for my extended family with this tool with minimal effort. For a regular family tracking just two or three different programs for their household, it should be a breeze.
(Note that American Airlines recently blocked AwardWallet from tracking its mileage program, so it is the annoying outlier in the miles and points tracking world. And with the least generous 18 month expiration policy, it’s the only one you might want to set a calendar reminder for if you don’t fly often. Hopefully that customer-unfriendly policy will be reversed soon!)
When and Why Should You Wait on Frequent Flyer Accounts?
For the most part, I say don’t wait to get mileage accounts for your kids. If you think there is a good chance you will want to book a flight on a certain airline this year, go ahead and get accounts for everyone in your family now when you have a free moment.
But every rule has an exception, and there is one instance in which you might want to wait. Occasionally, Southwest Airlines has refer-a-friend bonuses. I watch for those and have used those opportunities to send a refer-a-friend invitation to my child so that both the child’s account and mine get bonus points.I’m not aware of any US airline other than Southwest having a similar promotion in the last several years, so go ahead and get those accounts if you are likely to fly the others. But you may want to hold out on Southwest and wait for a promo if you don’t have any definite plans to fly Southwest in the near term.
Frequent Flyer Account Links
Have I convinced you to dive in with mileage earning for your kids? Here are the links for severalmajor US and international carriers so you can easily cross this off your to do list today.
- American AAdvantage
- British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
- Delta SkyMiles
- Frontier Miles
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (call:1-800-252-7522 for enrolling kids under 13)
Even More Frequent Flyer Mile Tips
Check out these related articles for more tips for frequent flyer miles and points:
- Mistakes You Might be Making with Frequent Flyer Miles
- Best Credit Cards for Family Travel
- Frequent Flyer Miles Meets Family Travel
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Can I create a frequent flyer account for my child? ›
Yes! First things first: every major US airline allows minors of any age to accrue miles in a frequent flyer account, as long as they are traveling on their own ticket. So as soon as you buy a seat for your child, you should get an account opened in the child's name.How do I get my child's MileagePlus number from United? ›
How kids can join: Sign up online at United's website. Click "Sign in" at the upper right of the homepage and then click "Enroll in MileagePlus." Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, phone number and email address.Can a child have a frequent flyer account American Airlines? ›
The 24-month activity requirement will not apply to AAdvantage® members under age 21. Once a member turns 21 years of age, their account must have mileage earning or redeeming activity within 24 months of their 21st birthday in order to retain their miles.Can my daughter use my frequent flyer number? ›
Can you use your frequent flyer number for someone else? In most cases, you can choose who benefits from your frequent flyer points. The process is often as simple as buying a ticket for someone else (using your frequent flyer number but their name, passport number, etc).Should kids have frequent flyer numbers? ›
“The major benefit of getting children frequent-flier accounts at a young age is that they can accrue miles toward free travel,” said Leslie Harvey, founder of the family travel blog Trips With Tykes. “Even if families travel infrequently, these miles will slowly add up to something more significant over time.”Does my child need a frequent flyer number? ›
“If you're flying with your kids, there's no reason not to sign them up for a frequent flyer mile account,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Going.com. “They're free to sign up, and the miles they accumulate from flying in their childhood could easily tally up to three or more free flights by the time they turn 18.What age is considered a child on United Airlines? ›
United Airlines requires you to purchase a ticket for your child when: The child is two years or older. The child turns two after outbound flights for the continuing/return flights only.Can I add my wife to my United MileagePlus account? ›
Upgrade companions and sponsoring upgrades
MileagePlus members can use a MileagePlus Upgrade Award for another traveler, and Premier members can use PlusPoints for someone else, even if they are not traveling on the same reservation.
Please try again later or contact the MileagePlus Service Center from 7 am to 12 am (CT) at 1-800-421-4655. Enter your information and we'll help you find your number.How do airlines verify a child age? ›
Original or photocopies of government-issued identification (e.g., passport, birth certificate, government-issued photo identification card) are the only acceptable forms of proof of age.
Do airlines check kids birthdays? ›
While most frequent flyer parents know that the magic age range to fly as a lap child is from birth until the day before they hit their second birthday, what some may not know is that all U.S.-based airlines — and most likely international airlines as well — technically require you to prove your child's birthday.What identification is required for a child on American Airlines? ›
You may have to present proof of age like a birth certificate for any children under the age of 18. Families with children under 2 years old can ask to board early at the gate.Can you claim frequent flyer points for children? ›
Generally speaking, any airline with a frequent flyer program will also award younger passengers with the same points as adults, even though they may be on a discounted fare. Conversely, kids will need the same amount of points as adults to book reward seats.
No. You can only have one Frequent Flyer account.Can a married couple share a United MileagePlus account? ›
Only individuals are eligible for MileagePlus membership, and each individual may maintain only one account in the Program.What age do kids stop flying free? ›
Infants or children under 2 years of age can travel on the lap of an adult for free (within the United States) or at a reduced fare (for international travel).What are the risks of frequent flyers? ›
- Noise-induced hearing loss – The white noise of a plane may be able to lull us to sleep, but it is still loud enough to cause hearing damage with regular exposure. ...
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – Also sometimes called “economy class syndrome,” this can be a life-threatening condition.
The price of a child ticket will differ from airline to airline. Some airlines offer discounted prices for children, whereas others have a flat fare for adults and children. On average, discounted airline tickets for children are around 25—33% cheaper than adult tickets.How many flights a year is considered a frequent flyer? ›
It all depends on the frequent flyer program of your choice, its rules and flights, that you take, but the rule of thumb is, that with just 3-4 flights a year you can think about yourself as a frequent flyer, who's entitled to certain perks.Can multiple people use the same frequent flyer number? ›
Can someone else use your frequent flyer number? Absolutely not, because your number is unique to you. They can't make a reservation with your number because the name will not match the number in the airlines records.
Can I use my frequent flyer for my family? ›
Most frequent flyer programs let you use your points to book flights for someone else in your family. A few programs let you use your points to book for anyone, even if they are not a relative.What airline can a 7 year old fly alone? ›
United Airlines welcomes young flyers and has an unaccompanied minor service for children ages 5 to 14. There is a fee of $150 each way for every 2 children using the service. Unaccompanied minors can travel on both domestic and international flights, as long as it is nonstop on United or United Express.Can a 6 year old fly first class? ›
Can Young Kids Fly In First? In general, it's fine for kids to fly in first class.What airline can a 11 year old fly alone? ›
The minimum age for children to travel alone as adults paying adult fares varies: Kids have to be 12 years old to fly alone on domestic flights with Hawaiian, Southwest, Air Canada, and WestJet; 13 years old on Alaska; 14 years old to fly as an adult on JetBlue; and 15 years old on Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, ...What happens to frequent flyer miles when someone dies? ›
Unfortunately, many of the biggest airlines have policies clearly stating that frequent flyer miles are not transferable upon death. Other airlines include vague statements and wording about the use of “sole discretion” as it pertains to decisions regarding the transference of accrued mileage credit to beneficiaries.How to get a free upgrade to first class on United? ›
You're automatically eligible for a Complimentary Premier Upgrade as long as you are a Premier member (the higher your status, the earlier you become eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades and are flying on an eligible ticket on any eligible United-operated flight.Is United MileagePlus the same as frequent flyer? ›
United MileagePlus is the frequent flyer program for United Airlines, which is a member of Star Alliance. The United frequent flyer program is known for its wide range of award travel destinations, excellent economy award availability and a variety of ways to earn and redeem miles.Do MileagePlus miles never expire? ›
That's right — United flyers don't have to worry about losing miles because they didn't keep their United MileagePlus account active. So, do United miles expire? The quick answer is United miles don't expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.Do MileagePlus accounts expire? ›
United Airlines announced on August 28, 2019, that United miles will no longer expire—in most cases. Previously, miles expired after 18 months of account inactivity. United required MileagePlus members to earn or redeem miles at least once every 18 months to reset the clock.Do airlines ask for proof of child age? ›
Typically, minors under the age of 18 do not have to present identification for domestic U.S. travel. Airlines will accept identification from the responsible adult on behalf of the minor(s). For international travel, minors under the age of 18 must present the same travel documents as the adult.
How does a 15 year old get through TSA? ›
Children between the ages of 13 and 17 who will be traveling on the same reservation as an enrolled parent or guardian may also access the TSA PreCheck® lanes, provided the children have the TSA PreCheck® indicator on their boarding pass.Will airports make you prove your child's age if under 2? ›
Although TSA does not require a baby to have identification documents when traveling with their parents, they may be asked by the airline at check-in to prove their child is, in fact, under 2. The easiest way to prove a child's age is by presenting their US birth certificate.What happens if your kid turns 2 on return flight? ›
If a child turns 2 years during the trip, they need to have a child ticket instead of infant ticket, due to the seating on the return flight.Can grandparents take my child in flight? ›
Children traveling with grandparents, cousins, other relatives, or school groups will need to have a signed document, such as a Child Travel Consent, allowing them to travel without a parent or legal guardian.Can I still fly if my birthday is wrong? ›
Call the airline immediately and correct it. The reason is that these days the passport often gets checked and when there is a mismatch between you date of birth on your ticket and the date on your passport you - in the worst case - might be denied boarding.Does diaper bag count as carry-on? ›
Diaper bags, soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices don't count toward your personal item or carry-on.Can I bring milk on a plane for my toddler? ›
Formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches) in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag.Does a 5 year old need a car seat on a plane? ›
The FAA recommends that children under 40 pounds continue to use a car seat and that children over 40 pounds use the seat belt on the airplane seat.Should I get my kids frequent flyer numbers? ›
“The major benefit of getting children frequent-flier accounts at a young age is that they can accrue miles toward free travel,” said Leslie Harvey, founder of the family travel blog Trips With Tykes. “Even if families travel infrequently, these miles will slowly add up to something more significant over time.”Can I use my frequent flyer number for my kids? ›
Yes! What is this? First things first: every major US airline allows minors of any age to accrue miles in a frequent flyer account, as long as they are traveling on their own ticket. So as soon as you buy a seat for your child, you should get an account opened in the child's name.
Can a family share a frequent flyer number? ›
Most airlines allow you to transfer your miles to someone else's frequent flyer account. They can then book their own flight with the miles you gave them. Unfortunately, airlines typically charge either a flat or per-mile fee to transfer miles.Can I use my husband's frequent flyer points? ›
You can transfer points online to an eligible family member online or you can call the Frequent Flyer Service Centre to transfer points (a Reward Assistance Fee applies for family transfers completed via a consultant). You can also use your points for a Reward flight for an eligible family member.What is the average income of frequent flyers? ›
The average annual household income in Frequent Flyers is $46,296, while the median household income sits at $40,244 per year. Residents aged 25 to 44 earn $40,875, while those between 45 and 64 years old have a median wage of $44,252.Can you combine United miles with family? ›
Yes, United miles can be transferred to others, however not only will you pay to do the transfer, but you'll have to pay a processing fee as well. United charges $7.50 per 500 miles transferred plus a $30 processing fee.How do I add my wife to my MileagePlus account? ›
- Log in to each of your MileagePlus accounts. You can log in with your account number, your username or your primary email address. ...
- Select the account number you prefer to keep. ...
- Submit your merge request.
It's so easy — input the MileagePlus number of the person you'd like to give miles to, choose an amount, and celebrate the gift of travel. Multiply Miles is a simple way to boost your balance on a monthly basis. Members who've earned miles in the previous month can multiply them by up to 10x.Can I create flying Blue account for my child? ›
If you are a member aged 18 or over, you can create your Flying Blue Family through 'My profile' on the Air France or KLM website. There, you can invite other members to join your Flying Blue Family. A Flying Blue Family can consist of eight people maximum; one extra adult and six children.How do I set up a flight for my child? ›
You can either add the lap child at the time of booking or you can call at a later date and add the child. Note that even after your child has been born, most airlines have minimum age requirements to fly, usually starting at 7 days old. Check with your airline to confirm how young your baby can be when they fly.Can frequent flyer miles be inherited? ›
Your rewards can add up quickly, especially if you have accumulated hundreds of thousands of points. Unfortunately, many of the biggest airlines have policies clearly stating that frequent flyer miles are not transferable upon death.What is the minimum age for air miles? ›
Mailing address. By clicking Continue, you are confirming that you are at least 16 years of age and that you have read and agree to the Program Terms and Conditions.
How can my child fly for free? ›
Infants or children under 2 years of age can travel on the lap of an adult for free (within the United States) or at a reduced fare (for international travel).How much does a child pay for a flight? ›
Children usually pay 75% of the fare and all of the taxes. Anyone older than a child (anyone older than 12 years) will pay full fare and taxes.Are airline tickets cheaper for kids? ›
How much does a child ticket cost? The price of a child ticket will differ from airline to airline. Some airlines offer discounted prices for children, whereas others have a flat fare for adults and children. On average, discounted airline tickets for children are around 25—33% cheaper than adult tickets.Does a 3 year old need a plane ticket? ›
Children 2 or older are required to have their own seat, a ticketed adult fare. Children under 5 can't travel alone under any circumstances.How much is 50000 frequent flyer miles worth? ›
How much are 50,000 American miles worth? 50,000 American miles are worth about $750. How much are 80,000 American miles worth? 80,000 American miles are worth about $1,200.