You may have noticed the little tab on the top of this page called, “Donate Miles.” It was my version of a “Kickstarter” campaign where, instead of donating money to this project, you’d have the opportunity to donate frequent flier miles. People said it was creative and out of the box, like this project. The one challenge I didn’t count on was the uncooperative nature of airlines.
When the first person contacted me to offer to ‘gift’ me miles I was excited. Not only did they believe in this project, they were also quite generous. Yes, it was my friend Brenda, but it’s always nice to have generous friends. She wanted to gift me 60,000 USAir miles. Zowie! And, as an added bonus, USAir was having a promotion in which they would match every gifted mile. The stars were lining up, it seemed. But then, a reality check; USAir would only allow 50,000 miles to be donated at a time for this promotion. No problem, I’m not greedy. Ah, but then they would charge a penny per mile donated. That came to a whopping $500. And that’s not just for this promotion, that’s anytime anyone wants to gift miles. And if you want to simply purchase miles? Yeh, that’s the same cost. Are you kidding me?
I tweeted to USAir to ask if there was any possibility of waiving those nasty fees for a respectable project such as this (hey, there’s some philanthropy in this). They tweeted back, “It’s not us, points.com handles our frequent flyer program.” Not being one to easily give up, I contacted points.com. I presented the project description and highlights – interactive travel writing and reading site, readers vote, philanthropy included, Kickstarter miles, blah, blah, blah. To my surprise, they wrote back!
“We think we have a solution for you,” they said. “We’d like to set up a conference call with some members of our marketing team.”
Excitement washed over me. Big companies (okay, at least one big company) were taking me seriously.
The next week, Daniel and Ben from points.com and I had a phone call.
“We love your idea and think it’s very creative.”
“Thanks!” I replied.
“Here’s our proposal. We charge the fee in miles instead of cash. You get to keep the miles leftover. For example, if someone wants to gift 50,000 miles and the charge is $500, we take the equivalent of $500 in miles and you keep the rest.”
“Hmm,” I replied. “I’m not sure how that would work as the equivalent of $500 is 50,000 miles so that would leave me with nothing (I began to wonder if it’s possible to overdraw your frequent flyer account).”
“Oh, um, well I guess we don’t really have a solution then. We’re really a tech company and we have the technology to do this, but it’s up to our airline partners to agree to waive the fees.”
So now I was back where I started. I then decided to contact all of the major airlines I could think of. I offered them free advertising on the Drop Me Anywhere site (sorry, a little prostitutey I know, but I assure you it would not sway my opinions either way and snarkiness, when called for, would continue to be prevalent). Most have not responded. So to these airlines and their slogans I say:
United –“Fly the friendly skies.” Hmmm, you never wrote me back. That doesn’t seem very friendly.
Delta – “We love to fly and it shows.” Never heard from you. You may love to fly, but you don’t seem to love to fly me.
USAir – “Fly with US.” You wrote me back saying it was an interesting idea but that you would not be participating. Fly with US? Love to. Help me do that.
American – “Something special in the air.” You may be something special in the air, but I’m someone special stuck on the ground.
Lufthansa – “There’s no better way to fly.” Uh, there’s no way to fly.
Virgin Atlantic – “Fly in the face of ordinary.” That’s what I’m trying to do, but as is ordinary with the others, I never heard back from you
Virgin America – “This is how to fly.” How? Please tell me! Write me, call me!
With just a few days left in our first vote (have you voted? You can do so once per week), Brenda will purchase the ticket with her miles. Funny, there’s no extra charge for this. But it’s rare that someone can donate enough miles to buy me a ticket outright. I’m trying to negotiate for the people who wish to donate 2,3 or 10 thousand miles. Perhaps my airline “friends” will reconsider my offer and contact me. If not, please look for a soon to be launched actual Kickstarter or Go Fund Me campaign.