Give the Gift of Flight (and I’m not talking about those new Air Jordans)

193980184_35f2b9d8a0_zHere’s another way to get rid of those pesky frequent-flyer miles. Actually, it’s not the miles that are pesky, it’s those notices that your miles are going to expire due to inactivity that get irritating.

Last year, I wrote about trading a few hundred miles for magazine subscriptions. But maybe you don’t need another Golf Digest laying around your house. Maybe you want to live out your belief that it’s better to give than to receive.

Most airlines allow you to give your miles to selected charities, and it’s even easier than buying magazines. In fact, it probably takes more clicks to find the donation site than to make the donation.

I’ve put together a list of airline donation sites to help the cause. I give credit to the folks at MileDonation.com for giving me a head start on finding some of the links. More about MileDonation below.

Some of the other useful links at MileDonation.com are instructions on how a charity can solicit mile donations for itself, a form for joining their list of people seeking donated miles, and the list of published requests that others can give to.

You can also contact your favorite non-profit directly to see if they can accept miles into a matching frequent-flyer account (a fee will apply).

Of course, you don’t have to give your miles away. There’s always Cigar Aficionado.

[photo: “Airbus A319 C-GJWF,” by Doug, used under a Creative Commons license]

Help for Infrequent Fliers with Frequent-Flyer Miles

4068907085_388379498d_nDON’T LET YOUR MILES EXPIRE!

Chances are if you have a frequent-flyer account, you’ve probably seen that message, or something like it, in your email inbox.

Few things last forever, including airline miles, but keeping your miles available may not be as difficult as you think. There are a lot of ways to keep your account active, and though I’m not an expert on all the tricks of the trade, here are some things I’ve learned about one option: MagsforMiles:

  1. MagsforMiles (or Magazines for Miles) offers one of the cheapest ways to create account activity, at least for these airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Spirit, United, and US Airways. For as few as 500 miles, you can get a year’s subscription to a wide variety of magazines.
  2. While some think that you need to clean out all your miles before they expire, you simply have to  show some kind of activity—just spend or add as few miles as possible. That means one subscription with MagsforMiles will do.
  3. According to MagsforMiles FAQ page, you should wait 6-12 weeks for the first issue of your subscription to be delivered. Save the reply email you get showing that your order is being processed so you’ll know the order date and magazine name in case you need to follow up later.
  4. Don’t wait until the last minute. The required amount of miles will be taken out of your account within 2-4 weeks, and it could possibly take up to 6 weeks. This is important to remember, as you’ll not be able to redeem your miles on the last day of the deadline. I found this out when I got a postcard in the mail saying that MagsforMiles couldn’t fulfill my order because there were insufficient miles in my account. That was because after the deadline passed, the airline zeroed my account before MagsforMiles could take out the miles they needed.
  5. MagsforMiles has a customer service page, but when I called their number, all I got was an automated help line. This didn’t help me a lot, since the magazine subscription I was checking on wasn’t in the system, since it hadn’t been fulfilled.
  6. If, like me, you do your best and your miles get cancelled anyway, all is not lost. Call the airline and explain your situation. In my case, they called MagsforMiles (I assume they talked to a real person) and then gave me back all my miles as a one-time courtesy. I’m not sure how far you could go with that, but even if you miss the deadline with no really good excuse, it would be worth the call to see if the same policy would apply.

After all’s said and done, with MagsforMiles you’ll save your miles and you’ll get some pretty good magazines. Some, like Afar, Coastal Living, and Condé Nast Traveler can even make you feel as if you’re traveling from the comfort of your own easy chair. (OK. I know. It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing.)

[photo: “The Chase,” by Luis Argerich, used under a Creative Commons license]