This may not have been the year in which you used many of your frequent flier miles or loyalty points, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put them to good use while they idle in your accounts.
Several airlines have partnered with nonprofit organizations to convert donated miles into plane tickets that benefit humanitarian, wellness, educational or environmental initiatives. Some hotel companies, like Hilton, convert loyalty points into cash for causes including support for health care workers and those fighting California wildfires. (Although most airline miles expire after 12 to 36 months of account inactivity, many companies have made an exception during the pandemic.)
If you belong to any of these loyalty programs, here’s how you can help to make the world a better place:
American Airlines: The airline allows you to donate as few as 1,000 miles to charities, including Children’s Flight of Hope, Mercy Medical and the American Red Cross. To donate, simply login to your mileage account on the American Airlines site.
Hawaiian Airlines: This carrier allows you to donate miles to several Hawaii-based charities and matches up to 100,000 miles per organization, up to half a million miles annually. The airline notes that its 14 participating nonprofits, including the American Cancer Society Hawaii, the Blood Bank of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Humane Society, work with limited resources. To donate, log onto the Hawaiian Airlines site with your mileage number.
Delta Air Lines: The carrier’s SkyWish program allows frequent fliers to donate miles to several charities. These include the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which connects researchers from around the world, and Luke’s Wings, which uses donated miles to transport wounded veterans. The carrier recently announced that it will donate up to 50 million SkyBonus points to diverse organizations, with a focus on businesses owned by women or minorities; organizations can apply to receive donated miles by January 31, 2021 on the SkyBonus site.
United: Miles on a Mission allows travelers to donate miles to nearly 40 nonprofits through its crowdsourcing platform, which allows charities to raise miles for specific trips. United will match the first 125,000 miles raised for each of the organizations.
Give A Mile: Kevin Crowe, a technology executive based in Calgary, Canada, started his nonprofit in 2013 to fly families to support their loved ones in critical care and palliative situations. The volunteer-run organization has made more than 720 flights using more than 23 million donated miles through Aeroplan, Air Canada’s loyalty program; travelers can donate miles on the Give A Mile site. Mr. Crowe says that he has seen a 75 percent increase in applications compared to last year from families who have been financially affected by the virus.
Miles4Migrants: Since 2016, this nonprofit has collected more than 56 million donated miles to go toward rescuing refugees and asylum seekers. Travelers can make a pledge of any number of miles from any carrier on the Miles4Migrants site. The communications director, Annette Ross, noted that about 65 percent of frequent flier miles have been used recently in U.S. border cases, and the rest globally, including in Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan.
Hyatt: World of Hyatt points can now go toward complimentary three-day vacations for health care workers at the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, one of the pandemic’s hardest hit. Point donations can be made on the World of Hyatt site. The hotel partners with American Airlines for the vacation flights and has awarded over 3,000 trips to date.
Hilton: Redeem your Hilton Honors points to support pandemic and West Coast wildfire relief efforts — among other causes — on this site. Points are converted into cash donations and distributed to the charity of your choice.