How to Use American AAdvantage Miles for Kids Tickets and Cash for Yours

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As you may have read, I’ve had a bit of trouble using my American Airlines AAdvantage miles recently at the saver level. From the extensive discussion in the comments on that post, I know I’m not alone. With four kids, budgets are tight and I am now booking trips beyond when my youngest daughter turns two, so that means that the days of booking her as a free lap baby are over.

 

With this in mind, as we planned our holiday 2017 visit to my in-laws in Kansas I really wanted to use AAdvantage miles if possible. This is especially true since we will be flying to Kansas from Dallas after a stay at the Gaylord Texan to experience their winter wonderland, and that is a route American operates as a quick nonstop flight.

There wasn’t any economy saver availability on the date I needed, but there was actually first class saver availability using AAdvantage miles for two seats. Since it is a pretty short flight at under 500 miles flown, it was just 15,000 miles per first class seat. That isn’t a great award price, but it certainly isn’t horrible. I’ll be taking the girls by myself on this flight to see the grandparents while Josh heads home to work, so having the little extra attention that comes in first class seemed worth the splurge…especially since using miles for economy would have cost more than first anyway.

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Trying to line up tickets for us three crazy girls

The only hitch in this otherwise solid plan was that since our littlest will have already turned two by the time this flight happens, I need three seats and not just the two that were available using miles. The cash price for the third ticket was actually quite fair, so I was good with using miles for two seats and cash for one. However, no matter how I divided the three of us up, at least one kid was having to fly without an adult on their ticket.

The American reservation system will not let you book a flight for a child under 16 years old online without an adult attached to the reservation. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

In cases like this one where you want to book a child using miles and then purchase an adult ticket with cash, or vice versa, you have to call American Airlines and make the booking over the phone.

I explained our situation over the phone and said that I will be traveling on the flight, but no matter how I did the booking, at least one daughter would be booked without me on the reservation since there were only two saver award seats available and three of us traveling. The agent totally understood and said she can make that booking over the phone.

Within a matter of minutes we were able to get the two bookings done, even though it meant booking a kiddo without me on the same reservation. She did “link” our two reservations behind the scenes, though in my experience that isn’t something you can see on the front end. There were no extra fees to make this booking over the phone since it cannot be done online.

If you ever find yourself needing to make a reservation for your minor children using American Airlines miles without you on the same reservation, even though you will be on the same plane, just pick up the phone and make the reservation the old fashioned way by talking to an agent. I imagine the same process would be true with most other airlines, though I can’t promise all will allow you to make a child booking without an adult on the same reservation. Thankfully, it was an easy process with American and I can vouch for having done the same with United in the past as well.

Have you ever used miles for your minor kids without an adult on the reservation?

Comments

  1. Hi!
    I have 500k aa miles and $400 in aa gift cards.

    Do you have any advice on how I can book a trip for my wife and I to Ireland or Scotland or both with the miles I have leaving from Austin, TX.?

    Any help is appreciated and thank you in advance for all your time and wisdom.

  2. Yes, we recently had to do this for AA flights to Santiago. Tickets for me and my son using miles (from two separate accounts), and one paid ticket for my husband through his work. We called them up and it took a little while to book everything, but they were able to link our reservations.

    • We had a similar scenario and a phone call did the trick! We used my account for my daughter’s ticket, my husband’s account for his ticket and my work paid my ticket (work trip with extra days for leisure). I believe some airlines charge a “phone reservation fee” but in this case they waived it since it was something that the online system simply would not do.

  3. I had to do something similar on Hawaiian. I could book the flight for my child online but received a warning that I would be charged the unaccompanied fee. I just had to call and link it to my separate reservation.

  4. I actually did something similar on Delta for a flight we took last week. I used cash & my companion cert for myself and one kid. I wanted to use miles for the other 3 kids. I didn’t have time to call at the moment I was booking so I just put the wrong birth years in (so the kids ticketed at an adult age) to make sure my tickets weren’t sold or priced higher the next day. When I called, the associate easily changed the birth year and linked their tickets to mine. Only problem was that I could not check the minors in online the day before our flight. I had to do it the day of the flight, at the counter.

  5. I have done this also, but many phone agents insist that you still have to pay the fee (which is a lot of money!) If that happens, hang up, and call back, and hope you get a more reasonable agent.

  6. As someone mentioned above, I also have just used “wrong” birth years and adjusted after doing the online booking (at my leisure). This is also an issue for some airlines and upgrade bidding. KLM requires that one be 18 years old to be on an upgrade bid request. I had a situation where myself and the (then) 13 year old were on the same PNR and I was going to bid on a AMS-JFK segment. I “dummied” up her birth year with the correct passport information. Turns out, we won our “very inexpensive” bid and scored our KLM World Business Class seats on the upper deck of a 747. I don’t believe we adjusted the birth year until check-in at AMS-Schiphol and passport check. This was one example, where calling would not have helped since the upgrade-bidding is 100% automated. I felt a little bad “adjusting” her birth year, but she regularly (almost 90% of the time) travels in long-haul business class on revenue and award tickets; so I really saw no harm. If KLM had issues with those under 18 in business class then they would NOT sell seats in business class or allow award redemptions to those under 18, not to mention she was also SkyTeam Elite+. (oh, and her favourite flight was AMS-NRT-AMS in business class on the 747…)

  7. Thanks to everyone for sharing how they have gotten similar things booked! I considered just putting in an alternate date online to avoid the phone call, but in the end decided that it was probably worth the few minutes of time to do it the right way and avoid any potential issues down the road. I’m sure 9/10 times or more that would probably work fine, but I just didn’t want to be the one who hit an issue for whatever reason.

  8. Late to the party but for anyone who reads this later – Alaska Airlines is great about this, you can input the adult’s confirmation code as part of the online booking process for the child – no call needed!

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