It took FlyerTalk.com poster “justind” less than five minutes to earn 10,000 free Delta SkyMiles during the recent “Dash to the Gate” online promotion – and it took him less than that to give them all back.
After urging fellow FlyerTalkers to do the same, “CelticFlyer” took up the call to return his easily won miles and gave up 30,000 more on top of that.
When “rkt10” chipped in hers and started keeping a tally, they had a horse race.
All of these giveaway miles – nearly 275,000 at last count – are actually intended for use as donations to organizations accepting miles for Southeast Asia disaster relief efforts. The online community members have challenged fellow Delta SkyMiles account holders to raise the total to 1 million miles.
Whether they reach that goal or not, they’ve made their mark among the world’s citizens who are responding in record numbers – and in myriad ways – to charities’ pleas for help with the massive tsunami recovery effort.
The emergence of miles as a viable form of currency for charities has helped the nonprofit organizations send workers and supplies to and from stricken regions and has highlighted the value that earned miles and points have in the industry.
To assist frequent flyer program members interested in donating their own miles to a tsunami-involved charity, InsideFlyer’s sister site, MileDonor.com, has compiled a list of airline, credit card and hotel loyalty programs that are accepting miles or points on behalf of aid agencies.
Among the programs with donation efforts are Best Western’s Gold Crown Club, which gives the Red Cross a $2 cash donation for every 50 points a member donates, and Northwest WorldPerks, whose members can earn 500 bonus miles back for donations of 5,000 miles or more.
In another example, United’s Mileage Plus allows members to donate miles to the relief efforts of the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Operation USA, Save the Children and Sarvodaya USA through the Mileage Plus Charity Miles program. In addition, those who provide proof of a cash donation to the Red Cross or one of United’s other tsunami aid partners will receive 500 miles for their effort; the airline has already donated 2 million miles. (For details on these and other donation options, visit http://www.MileDonor.com.)
The ability to donate miles and money online to relief efforts has reportedly resulted in more money being collected from individuals and corporations than even the United States government has pledged so far.
In the monetary aid arena, frequent flyers again stood as a community, donating just under $20,000 as of Jan. 11 to the Red Cross International Response Fund through InsideFlyer’s charity arm, FlyerTalk Cares.
The FlyerTalk Cares site has been fueled by FlyerTalk.com members, who comprise the world’s largest bulletin board/online community of frequent flyers. One hundred percent of donations made through this site will go to the Red Cross International Response Fund, including credit card processing fees, which will be covered by InsideFlyer publisher Randy Petersen.