Question: Can I Earn Airline Miles From Other People If I Pay?

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Question: Can I Earn Airline Miles From Other People If I Pay?

Question: Can I Earn Airline Miles From Other People If I Pay?

Our question of the week: can I earn airline miles from other people if I pay? The question looks at policies for earning frequent flyer miles and loyalty programs’ rules. Let’s see what they have to say about earning airline miles from other people flying on a ticket you paid for.

The Question

Our question of the week comes from Tyler in our Facebook group:

When trying to earn status with an airline (United) can I use my Mileage Plus # to buy my minor daughter’s companion ticket and have it applied to my PQP and PQF?

How about spouse??
My wife has 1 for each of us, but if we all combined into 1 we’d get much further.


Even though Tyler’s question specifically mentions United, it could easily apply to other airline programs. If I’m paying for the ticket, can I earn airline miles from other people in my family?

What The Airlines Say

Unfortunately, you can’t earn any miles or status points this way. This question is actually in the FAQ on United’s website:

Will I earn award miles if someone else pays for my ticket?

Yes, the member who travels will earn the miles, not the member who purchases the ticket.

American Airlines has nearly the same question in its FAQ, with the same answer. Delta says the same: “Miles are always earned by the Member who is flying (whose name and SkyMiles number are listed on the ticket) regardless of who purchased the flight.”

It’s also important to note that airlines also have a policy that the name on the ticket and the name on the frequent flyer account must match. You can’t put your number on someone else’s ticket hoping to earn miles that way. Either the person flying earns the miles or no one earns the miles; you can’t earn the miles if you aren’t the one flying.

Final Thoughts

While it can seem frustrating if you’re just trying to earn miles from a ticket you paid for (seems innocent enough), there’s a good reason for this. It prevents any kind of abusive behavior where you force people to give you their miles, for example.

If you’re looking to combine your miles with friends or family, your best bet is our list of programs that allow you to combine points and miles in a group. You will still each need your own loyalty number to include when flying, as that part won’t change.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. Ill tell you guys something very funny. Back many years ago way before 9/11. This was toward the start of frequent flier programs. A freind of mine would buy tickets in his name and other people who worked for him would use the tickets. Nobody ever checked ID. Never. Your airline ticket was like a movie ticket. There were times when his tickets were flyign around the US at the same time in different directions. He always hacked the system. Back in those days you could check baggage at the curb. One tip to the guys and he could check a ton of cartons he needed. Or tear the tickets after that dropoff and check more at the counter, or do it again with guys at the curb.

    • My favorite ‘you can’t do that anymore’ is from a business trip my dad took when I was young. The other guy from the office forgot his ticket at home (remember when you bought a ticket and could lose it, not just reprint?). So he grabbed one of those envelopes the tickets used to come in, waited about 5 gates away until they were ready to shut the door, and then came running. “Hold the plane!!!!!!” Threw the envelope at the gate agent while shouting his name and running into the jetbridge. Found his seat and off to San Antonio. Ha!

  2. Another option, is as a business or employer, you might not earn miles, but, you can earn credits/points with programs such as AA’s Business Extra. If you have a small business, all those sharing your reservation, or when you book a reservation for employees you are earning you points, which can be redeemed for many things, including flights.

  3. I can appreciate this but what I would like to see is hotel adopt the same policy as airlines in the sense that I can use my airline miles to book travel for whomever I want whereas hotels I can’t book rooms for others without being there myself.

  4. Indirectly, depending on the payment method… you can get credit card miles and/or HELP earn elite status for airlines that let you via branded credit card spend… Though, there are limits… but you can earn miles and/or status purchasing other people’s tickets.


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