Booking A Flight With Miles For Someone Else
In this article I'll be going over steps I recommend if booking flights with miles for someone else. Some of these same steps would apply if booking a hotel room, but there is some variance, so here the focus will just be on booking flights.
Post Context on Date of Publication
The context of this post is a Ugandan looking to fly to Massachusetts to attend college and looking to make the booking on short notice where the cost of a points purchase for flights in business class is similar cost vs if purchasing an economy class ticket directly with cash.
Here is the mileage option for redemption available with anyone's United miles account:
The points purchase option bonus available is different depending on the account. My dad's account and a number of other folks have a solid bonus available of 100% at the purchase threshold of 40k miles or more. Some other accounts have no bonus available (i.e. my grandma) & I only have a 90% bonus on my own account.
Images courtesy United Miles.
$1540+$103.53 = 1643.53. For business class travel from Uganda to the US on September 1st or 3rd for an itinerary under 19 hrs, that's fantastic. While originally slightly more expensive for this method vs booking in $ directly for economy on the cheapest flight available on the date of this publication, as of 8/24 at 7:26 AM EST, it's actually cheaper to use this method than it is to book in economy no matter how slow the itinerary is.
If you narrow down to itineraries 21 hrs or less, you only find the same flight sequence as the one in business class with United miles. Here it is in economy pricing for the Lufthansa leg (which is rated 21 overall in the top 100 airlines by Skytrax, with Delta, the top US based carrier, being ranked #20) and business class for the other 2 since no economy options are available in those EgyptAir flights.
If wanting to take that business class flight that you can get for $1643.53 by buying miles under the current promo if your account has the 100% bonus like my dad's does during the limited time promo, you'd be saving even more when compared to business class flights for that short itinerary costing almost $9k.
That's effectively 82% off business class pricing.
If Purchasing Miles or if Transferring Miles from Another Points Currency
If you plan to purchase miles to be used for someone else, or if you plan to transfer miles to another points currency to enable a booking, there are some extra steps that you should take since availability can change at any time & if you aren't careful, you could buy miles or transfer miles that can't actually be used on a flight:
Once you find a viable itinerary, the purchaser should acquire the details of the person flying. Ideally these details are available to the ministry before donors are involved to reduce the time needed.
You should check to see how long the points purchase transaction or the miles transfer transaction should take prior to performing it based on the mileage currency/transferring points currency.
If possible, you should check to see
Details Needed for Those Flying
The details required for bookings vary depending on the carrier flown, & availability can change at any time, so it's best to get the details necessary for a variety of carriers to enable a shortened timeline between the time of a donor receiving the information & the donor making the booking. Here is the template that I've developed for this request.
Not all Carriers Allow Booking with Miles for Someone Else
Some carriers, i.e. ANA & Qantas, restrict mileage bookings for others to family, with guidelines for that. See other examples that have restrictions on mileage bookings for others in teh "Booking Directly for Others" section here.