Members of Emirates’ Skywards frequent flyer program can now pool the Skywards miles they each earn from Emirates flights into a central ‘My Family’ account, making it easier to book reward flights or upgrades to business class when the family’s points are all kept together.
However, this doesn’t extend to pooling Tier Miles – the Skywards equivalent of status credits used to gain or retain Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum Status – nor can you share Skywards Miles earned from other sources such as credit cards.
How Skywards family pooling works
One member of the group takes on the role of Family Head: overseeing the central My Family account and how those miles are spent.
Up to eight people can pool their points into that shared bucket, including the Family Head, whether the members travel together or separately.
The scheme is limited to immediate family members of the Family Head. Emirates defines this as husbands, wives, partners, sons, daughters, step-sons, step-daughters, mothers, fathers, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, step-mothers and step-fathers.
Each participant can also choose how many of their miles are contributed to the family account – whether that’s every mile earned from Emirates flights, or a reduced amount such as 75%, 50%, 25% or 10%.
There's also a ‘0%’ option when a member would rather keep all their miles.
Skywards family pooling tips
Parents booking flights for children might take the approach of enrolling the child in the Skywards program and pooling 100% of their miles into the family account, while bigger families could decide to contribute only a portion of their miles to the tally, to be used later for a big family holiday.
However, members can share only new miles earned from Emirates flights after pooling has been set up. Any existing miles in family members’ accounts will remain where they are, unless members pay to transfer them.
Savvy frequent flyers in this situation might choose to continue earning Skywards miles in their own personal account until they have enough for their desired flight or upgrade, before later linking their account to the central My Family system to take advantage of pooling, which can be set up via the Emirates Skywards website.
As with personal Skywards miles held in individual accounts, miles in the My Family account will expire three years after they were earned, at the end of the month in which the Family Head was born.
For example, miles earned in the My Family account in June 2018 would expire in the year 2021 – and if the Family Head was born in October, they’d be wiped out at the end of October 2021 if unused.
The new My Family system is free to join and replaces Skywards’ Family Bonus Program, in which members could only pool 20% of the base miles earned by nominated family members: and if you wanted more miles than this in your own account, you’d have to pay US$15 per 1,000 miles transferred.
Qantas Frequent Flyer members taking Emirates flights can continue making use of Qantas’ Family Transfers feature, whereby each family member can send up to 600,000 Qantas Points to other family members every year, including Qantas Points earned from Emirates flights.
Other airlines including Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia also offer family pooling.