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United Airlines announces miles pooling, seat preference alerts in new updates

United Airlines announces miles pooling, seat preference alerts in new updates
United Airlines announced two updates this week aimed at making travel easier.

The airline is introducing a new way to collect and share miles among friends and family, known as miles pooling, and an app feature that will help you secure your preferred seat onboard.

According to United both features are about providing better value and flexibility to customers and are aimed at helping flyers tailor their trips to their own preferences.

Here’s what travelers need to know about the announcements and how to take advantage of the new features.

What is miles pooling?

United’s new MileagePlus feature allows frequent flyer program members to share miles with each other.

“We’re always looking for new ways to provide the most value to all of our loyalty members,” Luc Bondar, Chief Operating Officer of MileagePlus said in a statement. “MileagePlus miles pooling further reinforces United’s position as the leader in family and group travel and gives our members more flexibility to use their miles while making it easier to connect to the destinations and moments that matter most, with the people that matter most.”

The program allows groups of up to five people to share redeemable miles and apply the pot toward the price of a reward ticket.

According to United, here’s how the program works:

Any MileagePlus member age 18 or older can become a group leader and can invite up to four other members of any age into the pool. Members can transfer their miles to the pool by following instructions on the airline’s website or app.

“If a group of friends is planning an upcoming summer getaway and each friend has their own individual MileagePlus accounts with their respective number of miles, they can combine all, or a select amount of their personal miles into one central ‘pool’ that can be used to purchase flights and offset the cost of ticket prices,” the airline’s announcement said.

There is no limit to how many miles can be contributed to the pool.

Check out United’s website for full terms and conditions of the program.

How do seat alerts work?

The new feature in United’s mobile app lets you set your seating preferences so you’ll be notified if the one you like becomes available.

United began rolling out the option Friday.

It allows passengers to request their desired seat type (aisle, window or middle, including exit or bulkhead rows).

Preview of United Airlines' seat preference alert feature.

Preview of United Airlines’ seat preference alert feature.

United will automatically change you to your preferred seat type if it becomes available up to 12 hours before departure and will notify you of the change.

“With up to three million users interacting with the United mobile app daily, United is continuing to bring helpful features to its app, and this is just the latest new app feature that gives customers more options and makes travel a breeze,” a statement from the airline said.

Zach Wichter is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in New York. You can reach him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: United Airlines introduces reward mile pooling. Here’s how it works.

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