Miles Donations Are Providing Flights For Afghan Refugees

The group Miles4Migrants is coordinating the effort with the help of major airlines to use donated miles and credit card points to help refugees.
Posted at 4:31 PM, Oct 26, 2021

A campaign that began with ordinary people donating frequent-flyer miles has raised enough in two months to provide 40,000 flights for refugees from Afghanistan, and organizers and the White House are looking to nearly double that figure.

About 3,200 flights with donated miles have already carried Afghans from temporary housing at military bases in the U.S. to new homes around the United States, according to organizers.

Corporations have made half of the contributions so far, mostly in tickets donated by airlines.

The campaign is being organized by Welcome.US and Miles4Migrants, a group that was founded in 2016 and uses donated miles and credit card points to help refugees. The group saw support for refugees fleeing Afghanistan in August, as the U.S. military withdrew and turned the country over to the Taliban, and began talking to other nonprofits about helping.

United Airlines has contributed 7,000 flights, and American Airlines donated 6,000. Smaller contributions have come in from Delta, JetBlue, Alaska, Frontier, Air Canada, aircraft maker Boeing and the Tripadvisor Charitable Foundation, organizers say. 

Individuals have donated enough miles and credit card points to cover 20,000 flights, according to the organizers.

The organizers are looking to raise enough additional donations to pay for another 30,000 flights. Using donated miles and cash to pay for travel will free up government refugee aid for housing and other services, organizers say.

Military planes were used to evacuate Afghans from a chaotic scene at Kabul's main airport. Airlines then carried them from bases in Europe and the Middle East to the U.S. under contracts with the federal government

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.