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. But this is not always true and you can make a difference.
Give a Mile is a non-profit that helps people in need with air travel, using miles donated by members. First they began working with Air Canada. They also have a partnership with United. I’d like to see this grow and expand. Their Miles on a Mission campaign is a way that you can use your miles to make a difference in the last moments of life.
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 1,000,000 United miles to bring loved ones to visit patients with terminal illnesses.
In the final weeks, days, and moments of a person’s life we realize what’s truly important. It’s the experiences, the conversations, and the people who you share moments with that leave a life well lived.
Now imagine that, as you approach your final days and moments, you are alone. No more chances to connect, to hug, to laugh, or to look into the eyes of the person you love most in the world.
Only silence. Only solitude.
And all because of the cost of a plane ticket.
At Give A Mile, we’re on a mission to make sure that no one dies alone.
I am joining the board of Give-a-Mile, and will be contributing regularly. If you’d like to participate, you can gift from 1000 to 999,999 miles. (I’d like to see the organization expand to cover hotel nights for people in need, and work with transferable currencies as well.) They also appreciate tax-deductible contributions.
Give a Mile does more than just spend your miles. They work with hospices, ICUs and hospitals to confirm details – they find the people who need help, validate their stories, and connect people in their last moments of life. They’re a 501(c)3 public charity and all miles going towards the 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.