Did flyermilesyou know that you’ll need to fly roundtrip cross-country at least five times to get enough miles to win a round trip award ticket on most airlines?  For families that are occasional fliers, it can be nearly impossible to get enough miles for a free trip, especially if you regularly fly on different airlines.

Other than rewards programs, like the American Express Membership Rewards programs, or the mileage credit cards, there are ways to maximize your mileage on different airlines.  For instance, with the SkyTeam program, or the Star Alliance program, you can get mileage on partner airlines.  Choose one airline you’d like to accue points with, and then always use that frequent flier number with any flights with partner airlines.  For example, I have chosen US Airways, and anytime I fly a Star Alliance airline, like United, I apply my miles to US Airways.  That way, it’s quicker for me to get a free ticket.

A word of caution though – in my experience, only about half the flights get applied correctly, so be diligent in checking.  If you spot a discrepency, you’ll need to contact your airline with your confirmation and ticket numbers.

Jodi Grundig, Finance Traveling Mom, regularly writes about her travels on Family Travel Magazine and Mom’s Favorite Stuff.