One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is ‘how can I donate miles to charity?’ And the problem is that you really can’t unless you want to give to one of a handful of pre-selected groups your frequent flyer program endorses, or you want to directly book an award for someone out of your account.
Give a Mile is a non-profit that helps people in need with air travel, using miles donated by members. So far they’ve been able to work with Air Canada, but now they have a partnership with United.
Just before the pandemic United Airlines launched a platform to let charities fundraise for miles from MileagePlus members, and Give A Mile is currently working to raise 500,000 United miles to bring loved ones to visit patients with terminal illnesses. They’ve already given over 740 flights in Canada through their Aeroplan partnership.
This campaign will help the organization toward its goal of providing 20 or more flights this year in the United States.
“Being with a loved one at the end of life is one of the most meaningful experiences. We want to provide flights for those who do not have the means to make that trip,” said Kevin Crowe, founder and CEO of Give A Mile. “It’s already such a difficult situation – providing the flight gives the patient and family one less thing to worry about.”
If you’d like to participate, you can gift from 1000 to 500,000 miles.
Give a Mile does more than just spend your miles. They work with hospices, ICUs and hospitals to confirm details and also make sure that Covid-19 rules and restrictions are being followed in order to connect people with dying people they care about. They do this on a volunteer basis, with all miles going towards this program.
Hopefully the ability to give to more charities – often we’re miles rich, and cash poor – is something airlines will consider. United deserves credit for making this platform available, and Give A Mile for using it to help people in need.