Not really someone else, but my in-law 🙂
Here are some explanations on redeem mile for someone else at About.com. I thought about this idea, because I got about 55,000 miles in my AA advantage account (mostly from my China trips, plus some business travel I did in last year), and it appears a deal to redeem the miles (rather than pay cash/credit card) for my in-law China to US air ticket. It takes 70,000 miles for a round trip ticket. So what I did was holding the ticket first, bought 15,000 miles using credit card (it cost $375 + $30 processing fee + $28.xx tax). It took a few days for AA to process (I bought miles on Friday, the miles was added to my acct on Monday). Once I got the miles, I click on “Purchase ticket” (the ticket I previously hold). At that time I paid $38.xx tax for the ticket itself.
Overall I think it’s a deal because I paid about $472 for the air ticket. Obviously saving money is secondary comparing to the joy for my wife meeting her dad. Another reason I decided to pull the trigger early was I was afraid those redeemable seats run out quickly.
Rule of thumb
Should I redeem miles or buy the ticket?
I also decided to redeem my wife’s miles for WSJ (paper subscription). WSJ sent me an subscription offer: $160 for a year. On the other hand it cost 2,626 AA miles for 39 weeks of subscription. Not as long as one year, but from my experience, sometimes they extend it to a year automatically (to entice subscription, e.g., although my miles-redeemed WSJ subscription expired couple months ago, they still deliver the paper to me).
As ice on the cake, redeeming miles will push the expiration date of those AA miles for a year or so.