If you only travel once or twice a year, it can be hard to rack up enough miles or points to get an award ticket. Some airlines, however, offer family plans that could be a quick way to pile up those miles or points.
These programs typically allow you to pool your points as a family so you can qualify for a free ticket faster. This kind of program is most common among international carriers, but it is starting to happen with domestic carriers as well.
JetBlue recently began a Family Pooling program. Up to two adults, age 21 and older, and up to five kids younger than 21 can pool their miles.
Each member can choose what percentage of points they want to contribute to the family pool, with a minimum of 10 percent. Those percentages can be changed once a year. When each member joins the Family Pool, they can make a one-time transfer of any amount of points in their account into the Family Pool with no transfer fees.
On JetBlue, you earn three points per dollar spent on tickets, and another 3 points per dollar if you purchase online at jetblue.com, for a total of six points per dollar. If you are a family of four flying on $250 tickets, you could earn a total of 6,000 points.
JetBlue round-trip award tickets start at 10,000 points, so you’d have more than enough points to redeem for an award after two family trips at that price ticket. For more details, visit trueblue.jetblue.com.
British Airways also has a family frequent-flier plan, but there are a number of drawbacks with its general frequent-flier program. You only earn 25 percent of actual miles flown when you fly on the cheapest tickets, and you get hit with paying the fuel surcharge and landing fees on award tickets.
Other international airlines, such as ANA and Japan Airlines, have family pooling programs, but you only earn 30 percent to 50 percent of miles flown on discounted economy tickets. Qantas does not have a family pooling program, but you can transfer points to a family member up to four times a year.
Airlines are also offering paid membership to bundle fees.
Delta has a Smart Travel Pack for $199 that is valid for flights through Jan. 5. The pack gives you one free checked bag, priority boarding, better seat assignments, discounts on Economy Comfort seats and 20 percent bonus miles. Up to eight companions on the same itinerary can get the Smart Travel Pack benefits, except for the bonus miles.
United has subscription services that allow you to pay one fee for the year for free checked bags and one fee for Economy Plus seats. The free bag program allows you to check two free bags per flight and starts at $349 per year.