United now allows travelers to pool their air miles with others

Customers who have racked up travel miles with United Airlines can now share those points with up to four other passengers under a new program the airlines announced Thursday.

Anyone 18 or older with a MileagePlus membership can link their online account and combine their miles with those accumulated by family or friends from previous flights, United said. As with other airline points programs, United passengers can use the miles they’ve gathered to help pay for future travel.

United said there’s no limit to how many miles a group can pool together. The Chicago-based airline said it launched the program in anticipation of families seeking to fly more often as the summer draws near. 

Allowing customers to pool miles “gives our members more flexibility to use their miles while making it easier to connect to the destinations and moments that matter most,” Luc Bondar, chief operating officer of United’s points program, said in a statement. 

United isn’t the first airline to allow passengers to pool miles. In 2018, New York-based JetBlue extended its existing points-pooling program to include friends and extended family.

Access to more air miles may come in handy for travelers as the price of flights have soared since the pandemic Additionally, most major airlines have increased their baggage fees this year. United in particular raised its fees $5, the company said last month

Meanwhile, prices for air tickets sold in February were up about 6%, according to the Airline Reporting Corporation. Higher fuel costs and production delays at airplane manufacturer Boeing are partly to blame for higher fares, but airlines still expect high demand for travel in the coming months. 

The miles pooling program comes at a time when United is facing questions about its safety record. One United jet landed with pieces of aluminum skin missing from its fuselage, and in another case, a jet lost a wheel during takeoff

The incidents prompted CEO Scott Kirby this week to reassure passengers that flying United is safe. Aviation experts also said air travel is still one of the safest forms of public transportation

“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety,” Kirby said Monday. “While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus.”

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