Booking travel for others using your miles and points can be a wonderful gift this holiday season. According to credit card and points experts Daraius Dubash and Emily Jablon, founders of Million Mile Secrets, it's a great way to help your loved ones enjoy travel experiences that they might not otherwise be able to afford.
"You can book award flights and hotel stays for anyone - with a few exceptions - directly from your award program account," says Dubash. "That's better than transferring miles or points to your loved ones' accounts, because airlines and hotels usually charge a fee to do this."
However, when you book award travel for friends and family (especially those who don't travel often), here are a few extra details to keep in mind:
1. It's All in the Details
Before you book award tickets or rooms for your friends and family, make sure you have their personal details (such as full names, dates of birth, passport numbers, etc) correct. "Sometimes when I plan travel for friends or family, I'll ask them to send me a photo or scan of their passport," says Jablon. "That way, I'm sure to have their exact details and proper spelling of their name."
2. Set Expectations
Your family and friends are probably delighted that you're booking a trip for them. But whether they're seasoned travelers or haven't flown in years, it's always important to let them know what to expect.
For example: sometimes award flights aren't the most direct or at the most convenient times. Be sure to make it clear from the beginning (and before you book!) that they may not have their pick of dates, times, or even airlines.
And remind your friends that because they're traveling on award tickets or hotel points, they don't have identical privileges to those who pay cash for their travel. For example: let them know that even though they're traveling, they won't earn miles or points for their ticket or hotel stay.
3. Lend a Helping Hand
Those who haven't flown in years (or ever) might not be used to the idea of e-tickets or online seat selection and check-in. It's a good idea to give them a printed itinerary and instructions for checking-in, printing boarding passes, or checking baggage.
You may have to help your friends with seat selection. And remind the folks you've booked for that (most) airlines charge for checked luggage so they're not surprised at the airport.
4. Be Extra Careful With International Travel
Planning trips abroad can be a little trickier. Consider visa and passport requirements before you suggest an international trip for your friends and family.
5. Follow Up
Once you've made travel arrangements for your loved ones, be sure to stay in contact with them before and after the trip. While frequent travelers take these things for granted, you might want to remind your friends of details like:
- When to check-in (online) or which terminal they're flying out of
- How long ahead of time to arrive at the airport
- Baggage restrictions, fees, and prohibited items
- Hotel check-in and check-out times
- Transportation between airport and hotel
- If you have elite status with the hotel chain, whether to expect perks (and what kind)