Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Miles4Migrants stands fully behind the CDC’s recommendations to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel for those who are able, but we also stand up for those who must travel in order to reach a safe location.
In the U.S., District Courts are ordering that immigration detention centers reduce the number of people detained to ensure the health and safety of asylum-seekers housed in overcrowded facilities during the pandemic. Miles4Migrants is continuing to provide airfare within the U.S. so that these individuals can expeditiously reach a safer destination, with family members and sponsors waiting to support them. Our charity partners are following recommended safety protocols, including providing masks and offering guidance on safety procedures during travel.
For international flights, we are seeing a decrease in the number of requests due to global flight restrictions. Although reduced, we will continue to fly individuals to countries that consider refugee visa holders exempt from travel restrictions. We expect to see an increase in international flight requests when the pandemic subsides and need your support now to be ready when that day comes.
Miles4Migrants is a 501(c)(3) charity, dedicated to using donated frequent flyer miles to help people impacted by war, persecution, or disaster start a new beginning in a new home. We partner with other nonprofits to identify refugees, asylees, asylum-seekers, and their immediate family members who have legal approval to travel, but cannot afford airfare. Together, we can transform miles into a life-changing force for good.
Miles4Migrants fosters relationships with other nonprofits that are working ‘on the ground’ to serve refugees and asylum-seekers directly. Our nonprofit partners, both across the world and within the United States, submit requests for flight assistance to Miles4Migrants. We do not have the capacity to vet flight recipients’ finances to ensure financial need, nor do we specialize in the administrative and legal work required to ensure each flight recipient is authorized to enter their resettlement country. This is where our nonprofit partners come in – each partner is responsible for vetting flight recipients to ensure they have the necessary legal approval and documents to travel to (or, in the case of those released at the US-Mexico border or from immigration detention and legally seeking asylum in the United States, within) their resettlement country. We do not accept flight requests submitted directly from individuals without a nonprofit partner acting as an intermediary. A list of our nonprofit partners is included on our NGO partner page.
Donated airline miles and points are used solely for travel related to flight requests received from Miles4Migrants’ nonprofit partners who are requesting flights for refugees, asylum-seekers, and/or asylees who meet our mission. Due to the restrictions noted above, miles donated to Miles4Migrants cannot be used by individuals or groups of people with travel needs that are not within the scope of our mission.
We accept miles from many airline loyalty programs; however, based on the most frequent requests for departure/arrival locations, certain programs are used more frequently than others.
The most needed miles and points donations are:
- United Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Flying Blue (Air France and KLM)
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Capital One Rewards
- Air Canada/Aeroplan
Because Miles4Migrants provides flights for both domestic (U.S.-Mexico border) cases and international cases, the number of miles required for a flight varies. Other considerations are whether we are flying just one person or several members of a family, award seat availability when the flight reservation is made, and which airlines fly the specific route needed. We are not able to combine donor miles, except for Air Canada Aeroplan miles and American Express Membership Rewards, so each donor’s pledge is used by itself to cover the flight.
Some examples of miles requirements:
- 12,000-15,000 miles will fly one person within the U.S.
- 20,000 miles will fly one person from Afghanistan to Europe
- 25,000-30,000 miles will fly two persons within the U.S.
- 40,000 miles will fly one person from Africa to the U.S. or Canada
- 42,500 miles will fly one person from the Middle East to the U.S.
Minor children need to be on the same reservation as the adult, which requires even larger pledges. For example, if we are flying an Afghan family to Europe, the miles required might be:
- 60,000 miles for an adult and two minor children
- 100,000 miles for an adult and four minor children
Miles4Migrants works with partner NGO organizations to identify family reunification cases to support. Once a partner brings us an approved case in need of airfare, our flight booking team works to identify the best award flight options, and then matches the flight with a donor who has pledged the corresponding number of miles to the associated airline reward program. As the volume of flight requests varies, your donated miles may be needed within a matter of weeks, but it is likely that it could take much longer for your specific program/donation amount. We appreciate your patience.
After making your pledge you will be contacted by a member of the Miles4Migrants team to better explain the process and answer any questions you have. You can also watch this video for a more in depth explanation of the booking process.
Cash donations are a big help in addition to miles. While frequent flyer miles cover most airfare expenses, cash is needed for each ticket to cover taxes, departure and arrival fees, and fuel surcharges. Our average cost of taxes and fees per flight booked is $33.80 per person.
All contributions to Miles4Migrants are used solely to help refugees, asylees, and asylum-seekers. No funding or contributions are used to cover any personal costs of staff or volunteers, and under no circumstance is any donated money used for political activism or lobbying.
The IRS recognizes the donation of airline miles or points as a gift from the airline to the charitable organization. Therefore, miles donated to Miles4Migrants are not considered tax-deductible by the individual donor. For further information, consult IRS Publication 526 and/or your personal tax advisor.
Miles4Migrants is registered as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity, and monetary donations may be tax deductible.
For each flight reservation made, Miles4Migrants determines the lowest cost reasonable itinerary for the number of people requested on the day that we scheduled a flight. We define “reasonable itinerary” as one layover or fewer and exclude low cost carriers because these flights often charge additional fees. We do not use the cost of the exact flight we have booked with points because it would often lead to an inflated cash value since cash prices do not always directly correlate with the award flight cost in miles.
For example, if we received a flight request to fly two passengers from San Antonio to Philadelphia, and we booked those tickets using American Airlines miles, it may cost 25,000 miles and $11.20 in fees. Then we’d use Google Flights to find the lowest cost one stop flight from SAT-PHL. If the lowest cost option was a $400 Delta flight, we would record the cash value as $800 ($400 x 2), even if the particular AA flight reservation we made cost $900 per ticket, since in any realistic situation where someone had to pay cash, they would purchase the $400 flight, not that particular $900 flight.