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United Airlines mileage pooling - caution!

Hi all. You may have heard that United has a new feature where you can pool miles with other members (most likely your spouse or family members, but can be anybody). For instance, let's say a round trip to Europe is 80K miles each so for 2 tix we need 160K total, and I have 140K miles and my wife has 28K. Previously, my wife's 28K were of no use for Europe travel unless she paid a large fee to transfer them to me. Now we can combine our miles in a pool for free for 168K total which is now enough for the 2 tix.

HOWEVER!!!! >>> This seemed great and I was all set to do the pooling until I read the fine print. The pooled miles can ONLY be used for United operated flights. If you want to book a flight to, from, or within Europe that involves even 1 leg on a partner airline (Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, etc.), these pooled miles can't be used! Ouch! And once you 'pool' miles, they can't be 'unpooled'. Double Ouch! Here's the wording from the United website: 'Pool Miles can only be used to purchase Award Air Tickets on United or United Express® operated flights.'
So if the pooling works for you, great. Just be sure to read the fine print first. Happy travels!

Posted by
4936 posts

Thanks for pointing this out. I've been considering pooling with my parents, who no longer intend to fly enough that they would accrue enough miles for an award flight. While I would get the advantage of their miles, it does reduce the ability to use the miles that I would contribute.

My thinking has been that I'll contribute enough for a domestic flight, rather than international, which often includes a Lufthansa leg for my routings.

Then my parents would "leave" the pool so that I am the sole remaining member, at which point I can close the pool and (I believe I read) the remaining miles are distributed equally among remaining members.... namely me, in this specific scenario.

I'll be interested in other learnings before I take the leap - I've started my pool but haven't contributed miles - so thanks for starting this thread.

Posted by
1912 posts

Thanks very much for the heads up - great to know.

Do you know if codeshare flights work? thx

Posted by
1244 posts

CWsocial - I'm impressed with your creativity! In theory, it seems like your strategy would work. i.e. I start a pool and invite my wife, who contributes her miles. Then the next day, she withdraws from the pool, leaving me as only remaining member, and I dissolve the pool, so all miles go to my personal account, and can once again be used for any flights including partner airlines. Brilliant! Just a little leery if there's a 'gotcha' anywhere that we're missing. Hoping somebody else will have the guts to try it and report. :)

Posted by
4936 posts

I do recall there were some time limitations. I think it was from the time of adding miles to the pool and before booking a flight. There may also have been limitations on frequency of joining and leaving pools.

Posted by
111 posts

Thank you so much for this information! I was going to be a few thousand miles short for a RT to London, and thanks to your information about miles pooling, I think I'll have enough!

CW Social, did you do it? I just thought on doing the same. My issue is that I pooled miles with my husband and after that I noticed I could not use it for partner airlines, and we were needing an austrian airlines ticket, so, I am very frustrated because I will not be able to use them again and are kind of lost, so I was thinking to ask him to leave the pool and then all of his miles would come to my account, but I am affraid to loose more if I do it.

Posted by
4936 posts

andreacamachoiezzi, I have created my pool but haven't put any miles in it yet. You're right that you can't use the pool to book partner airlines, which rules out most of my international trips. So I won't be able to use anything from the pool until I have a domestic flight or non-stop United international.

As soon as I've had a chance to read a bit more, I will take the plunge and report back. I'm hoping to have my parents join my pool, add their miles and then leave the pool so that I become their sole proprietor. Hopefully.