Travel Tips

How Can Frequent Fliers Give Back to the Military?

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There are many web searches asking whether or not you can donate your upgrade certs on different airlines to the USO. The short answer, no.

Like many other professions that are ultimately public servants (police, firefighters, teachers, etc.), while military members appreciate people wanting to give something “above and beyond” there are certain gifts they shouldn’t accept. I’m not saying that a person can never give up their first class seat for a service member, and if you ever feel called to do that, by all means go ahead, but please don’t be offended if they refuse your offer.


One way you can give is to donate frequent flyer miles through the Fisher House’s “Hero Miles” program. These miles go to wounded, injured, or ill service members and/or their families who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center. The participating airlines are Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, United, and US Airways. Depending on the airline, there is a 500 or 1000 mile minimum donation. These miles are not tax deductible.

You can also donate hotel points through the “Hotels for Heroes” program. This program provides hotel rooms to the families of service members undergoing treatment at medical centers when a Fisher House is not available. The participating hotel groups are AmericInn, Best Western, Choice Hotels, La Quinta, Marriott, and Wyndham. Hotel points are also not tax deductible.

Of course monetary donations are always accepted and are tax deductible.

If you want to donate to the USO, you can make a monetary donation, or you can donate a specific “gift” for the troops. These vary from $15 (Comfort Food Package), $500 (Support a Caregiver) to $6,000 (Build a Bike for a Wounded Warrior). Some other gift examples are books, movies, couches, game night, phone calls home, sports equipment, laptops, etc. The majority of these gifts are in the $100 or less price range.

I’m adding this one because it’s one of my favorites. If you ever do a “Tough Mudder” race those support the Wounded Warrior Project.

If anyone has other military/veteran organizations they donate to; feel free to add those in the comments!


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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.


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