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United Introduces Fee-Free MileagePlus Mile Pooling for Frequent Travelers

Up to five family members or friends can pool MileagePlus piles to redeem on United award flights

by Lauren Smith

March 25, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of United Airlines

Does your family member have a small number of United Mileage Plus miles on their account but not enough to redeem? Those miles can now be shared with more frequent travelers as United Airlines introduces fee-free mile pooling in its frequent flyer program.

To spread the miles around, a “pool leader” creates a group for free and invites up to four family members or friends to join. Each member can contribute as many Mileage Plus miles as they want to the communal pool. Miles can then be redeemed by group members to book United award flights, which start at 5,600 miles.

Photo: United, Boeing 777-200ER. Courtesy of Munich Airport

An important caveat: redemptions are limited to flights and not the upgrades, hotel reservations, and other perks you can secure with miles under your name.

Additionally, you can only use pooled miles to book flights with United and not its Star Alliance partners, such as Air Canada or Lufthansa.

While the pool leader needs to be an adult, there’s no age limit for members, making mile pooling a great way to unlock the miles earned by children who travel infrequently.

Mile pooling can also help a family whose members have each accumulated miles on a trip but not enough to award flights on their own. Pooled miles can also cover one or two award seats on the next family trip.

“MileagePlus miles pooling further reinforces United’s position as the leader in family and group travel and gives our members more flexibility to use their miles while making it easier to connect to the destinations and moments that matter most, with the people that matter most,” Luc Bondar, chief operating officer for MileagePlus, said.

Photo: Courtesy of United

Bondar claims that United is the “first major U.S. airline” to introduce mile pooling in its frequent flyer program. Whether that’s true depends on your definition of “major.”

While United is the first of the Big Four airlines to introduce mile sharing, challenger carrier JetBlue, ranked seventh by capacity last year, has permitted mile pooling in its TrueBlue program since 2013.

Meanwhile, Big Four member Southwest Airlines allows passengers to gift unused flight credits to family and friends when traveling on the ‘Wanna Get Away Plus’ fares.

A few more technicalities for United’s mile pooling scheme: Once you contribute miles to a pool, you can’t claim them back, even if you exit the group, except for 24 hours after you first complete the transfer.

Additionally, while you can leave groups at your discretion, you won’t be able to hop between them easily. Once you exit a pool, you won’t be able to join a new one for ninety days.

Contributing miles to a pool won’t impact a member’s Premier status within Mileage Plus. Only the person traveling on the ticket will earn Premier qualifying points (PQPs), not those who transferred the points.