Booking a free flight is the well-earned result of being awarded miles from flights for months or even years. To casual fliers, the free flight is a coveted prize; for business travelers and frequent fliers, saving miles and earning free flights is an inevitability. There is a way for all fliers to exchange these "valuables." Buried deep within the terms and conditions of FAQs of airline websites is the assurance that you can, in fact, issue your reward ticket to someone else.
Book the Flights
Most airlines allow you to book award tickets online. Delta award tickets, for example, allow you to book for anyone online. When booking for another person, log onto your account and start the same award ticket booking procedure. Change the details of the "Passenger Information" section from your name to that of the person you are booking for. Before you check out, check to verify that the ticketed passenger's name will read as the name of your beneficiary instead of yourself. Make sure the name, birthday and other personal information match the identification document – a passport or driver's license, for example – that the recipient uses to travel. Some airlines will not allow you to book for others online and require you to notify them in person at a ticketing desk or over the phone that your award miles will be used by someone else. If you have problems changing the passenger details on the website, call the airline and book the award ticket directly.
Swap the Miles
Frequent fliers of different loyalty programs sometimes swap award tickets over the Internet. If you want to fly with your award ticket, but not with your own airline, try to book someone else a ticket with your award and have them book you one with their award. Find fellow award ticket traders on websites like Loyaltymatch.com or Points.com. Remember that most airline miles are not restricted only to the airline that gives them but also can be used on partner carriers, so you might not need to swap miles to get them. For example, paying with miles on Delta allows you to book flights on its partners including Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Air France.
Transfer the Miles
If you want your recipient to bear the burden of booking the flight, you can transfer your miles into their account. This is less efficient, however, than simply buying the flight for the recipient yourself. Airlines in most cases charge a flat fee and/or a cost-per-mile fee to transfer miles to another account, so transferring them dilutes their value. Some programs also allow you to give someone miles as a gift, but they charge a fee for this, as well.
Watch Out for Fees
There will often be a fee associated with booking your award ticket, such as government fees or taxes. Talk beforehand with your award beneficiary about who will pay any fees associated with the ticket. Airline personnel at the ticket counter and the website's award ticket prompts will both show you the fee before you decide to book the award. Generally, the closer in you are booking to the flight date, the higher those fees will be. Also read cancellation rules carefully. Under Delta SkyMiles cancellation rules, for example, you will likely have to pay a $150 fee to redeposit your miles.