- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

Q: I have thousands of unused frequent flier miles about to expire but no travel plans. What are some ways I can cash them in without traveling?

A: Airlines faced with millions of unclaimed miles have come up with any number of nontravel offers for its frequent travelers — from magazine subscriptions to contributions to charity.

“There’s all kinds of things you can do,” says Jeff Johnstone, managing editor of InsideFlyer, a magazine for frequent travelers that is based in Colorado Springs.

In some cases, you can redeem miles and get magazine subscriptions. Some airline programs also allow you to exchange miles from another program, such as Hilton Hotels Corp.’s Hilton HHonors program. You can also use miles to stay in hotel rooms or rent cars.

Several programs also have made it possible to donate unused frequent flier miles to charities, including ones to aid people hurt or displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In another twist, AMR Corp.’s American Airlines is offering one-time bonuses of 500 frequent flier miles to members who make cash donations of $50 or more to hurricane relief efforts. UAL Corp.’s United Airlines has a similar program.

Major airlines also have other affiliations with charity programs that accept donations of miles, such as a program at American Airlines called “Miles for Kids in Need” that helps ailing children travel to get surgery.

Some charities also make their own provisions for allowing donors to give miles, such as the Dream Foundation, a group that helps people who are terminally ill.

If you chose to donate the miles to charity, you can’t take a tax deduction for them.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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