Last year I wrote “How to Book Multiple Awards from Different Accounts on the Same Flights.”
The idea is that you can never transfer miles from one airline to another, even if they are airline partners, but you can book two seats on the exact same flights with two different types of miles.
Last week I used 30,000 Singapore miles and 35,000 Lufthansa miles to book myself and a friend one way First Class flights on United from Honolulu to San Francisco.
United flies one flight a day from Honolulu to San Francisco on a 767-400ER with fully flat beds in First Class (in addition to the flights to Newark and Washington-Dulles which are always on 767-400ERs.)
Since my friend had never flown in First Class, since I really wanted to sleep the entire flight, and since Lufthansa and Singapore have reasonable miles prices for the flight, I decided to book us two First Class tickets.
I booked one ticket for 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles + $5.68 and the other for 35,000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + $5.60.
This guide will be useful whenever you want to book two or more seats on the same flight with two or more types of miles from airline partners. One common situation is to book the same oneworld flights with American Airlines, US Airways, and/or British Airways miles.
- How did I search for the award space?
- How did I book the awards?
- What big risk did I take?
- What other types of miles work together like this?
I had my eyes on last Saturday’s 6:30 AM flight from Honolulu to San Francisco to start a three day weekend in California. In First Class, I’d get a bed to enjoy the second half of my nightly sleep.
United charges 40,000 miles + $5.60 for First Class between Hawaii and the mainland each way whether you fly to the west coast or the east coast and whether you fly in a flat bed like this or a standard recliner.
As I explained in Why I’ll Never Use United Miles to Hawaii, United’s partners Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines have access to the exact same award space on United flights and offer cheaper prices for awards to Hawaii.
Singapore Airlines charges only 30,000 Singapore miles each way for First Class between the mainland and Hawaii. Lufthansa charges 35,000 miles.
I had 31,000 Singapore miles and 53,000 Lufthansa miles, so I decided to book one ticket from each account.
I have a ton of ThankYou Points from opening the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card with a 40,000 point sign up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and ThankYou points now transfer to Singapore miles. However I wanted to conserve my transferable points and burn my Lufthansa miles instead.
When booking two award seats on the same flight even with two different miles, the first step is to search for two award seats on the plane.
This was the first snag. Using United Expert Mode, I saw that there was only one First Class award seat on the flight I wanted, signified by the “I1” in this screen shot. “I” is the fare class for domestic First Class awards.
At this point, I had a few options, and I decided to take the riskiest one. I booked one ticket with Singapore miles and didn’t book the second ticket.
I chose this option because I was hoping a second award seat would then open up. I figured that if a second seat didn’t open up, I would book myself an economy seat. There were three economy award seats available on the flight, signified by the “X3” in the above screen shot.
The risk was that I would book the one ticket with Singapore miles and then a second First Class seat wouldn’t open while the three economy award seats disappeared too. In that case, I could have cancelled the Singapore award for $30.
Immediately after booking the Singapore award, the award space on the flight showed “I0” which meant that there were no First Class award seats.
I checked every few hours and the next day, “I1” appeared again.
I booked the second award with Lufthansa miles as soon as I saw it was available.
Booking the Awards
I flew United and I searched united.com, but you always book with the airline whose miles you’re using so I had to contact Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa to book these two tickets.
Neither airline’s award search engine displays United flights, so I had to call both airlines.
Booking the Singapore Award
Booking the Singapore Airlines award took about 15 minutes. I booked my friend’s ticket with my Singapore miles. When you book an award for anyone other than yourself with Singapore miles, you have to add the passenger as a “nominee” in your account first.
First I had to sign onto my KrisFlyer account at singaporeair.com.
Once signed in, I selected “My profile” under “My account.”
Once on the “My profile” page, I had to select “My redemption nominees.”
I filled in my friend’s personal information.
I was a bit freaked out by the next pop up screen talking about fees, but upon a closer reading, adding a nominee is free.
Only deleting nominees within six months of adding them incurs a $30 fee. You can nominate up to six people, so I don’t foresee ever needing to delete a nominee.
Once I had the nominee added, I called KrisFlyer at 213-404-0301. I fed the agent my date, cabin, flight number, and nominee’s name, and he booked the award. The total cost was 30,000 Singapore miles and 7.1 SGD, which is $5.68, the security fee on domestic flights. There is no phone fee for booking KrisFlyer awards.
Adding the nominee online first was annoying, but it probably saved me some hassle overall because the agents’ English was difficult to understand, so it would have been tough to spell my friend’s name to him. Instead he just read it off his computer because he could see my nominees.
Booking the Lufthansa Award
Once the second award seat opened, I called Lufthansa at 800-581-6400. This award booking took five minutes.
I fed the agent my date, cabin, and flight number, and he booked the award. The total cost was 35,000 Lufthansa miles and $5.60, the security fee on domestic flights. There is no phone fee for booking Miles & More awards.
Both airlines gave me their confirmation numbers plus a United confirmation number, which I plugged in on united.com to select two seats next to each other.
We both checked in on the United app, and the flight went smoothly. (Trip report to follow.)
The only drawback of being on separate tickets is that if there had been a flight cancellation, United would not have automatically accommodated us together. This is a pretty minor problem in my mind because in case of a flight cancellation, we could have informed United we were traveling together.
It is common to have miles with several airline partners. Those miles don’t combine, but you can use each balance to book one ticket on mutual partners.
For instance, you can use British Airways Avios, US Airways miles, and American Airlines miles to book the exact same flights on oneworld partners like LAN and airberlin.
If you have a complicated trip that you want to book for several people with several different types of miles, my Award Booking Service specializes in helping people book complicated trips, so hire us today!