Entrepreneur donates air miles to those who can't afford to fly home for Christmas

An American entrepreneur is giving away his air miles to those who can't afford to fly home to their families this Christmas.

Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out, asked people to apply for the air miles via his blog and was going to donate his miles to six applicants, but the number soon became 10 when four people contacted him to donate their own miles.

Airline JetBlue then donated 10 more flights, meaning Shankman had 25 return tickets to give away.

Speaking to The Huffington Post, he said: "I have the miles. So, why not?"

Morgan Johnston, of JetBlue, said: "Quite honestly, we were just moved by what [Shankman] was doing. I think more people should support people doing good things."

Weirdest frequent flyer rewards
See Gallery
Entrepreneur donates air miles to those who can't afford to fly home for Christmas

Bangkok Airways really likes to look after its passengers and even offers frequent flyers the chance to redeem their miles for a health check-up a Bangkok Hospital. For 400 points, you'll receive a physical examination, eye screening and a cholesterol check, which will come in good use in the city where you have to pay for health care. Other services at Bangkok Hospital that you can spend your miles on include a facial microdermabrasion package (400 points), liquid-based cytology (250 points) and a digital mammogram with breast ultrasound (400 points).

We're hoping that you don't have a fear of flying if you travel regularly, but just in case you do or have a friend who is an anxious flyer, Virgin Atlantic offers a Flying Without Fear course to combat the phobia. For 40,000 miles, the one-day course, taken by a Virgin Atlantic captain, will debunk myths about flying, answer questions about turbulence and go through the techniques of flying confidently. There is also a special flight with a narration of every squeak, movement and wobble explained by the captain so you'll know exactly what’s going on during the flight.

Passengers who have pets that like to travel can take advantage of EL AL Israel Airlines' Points for Pets programme. Available exclusively for members of the airline's Matmid Frequent Flyer Club, pets that weigh less than 8kg and fly three times within three years receive their fourth trip free. Now that's a reason to take your pooch on holiday!

Frequent flyers looking to spend their miles on one-of-a-kind items will love Air Canada's Aeroplan Money Can't Buy rewards which feature amazing collector's items, such as a signed Lana Del Rey CD (71,000 miles) and Michael Bublé autographed sunglasses (63,500 miles). Our favourite reward is a guitar signed by Alanis Morissette, worth 236,000 miles. All proceeds go to charity too, so you can really make a difference just by redeeming your miles.

Etihad's frequent flyer programme Etihad Guest offers way more than free flights. Regular travellers can spend their miles on indulgent hotel breaks with Kempinski, 18-carat gold mobile phones and luxury cigars. But the most impressive reward by far, is a 68-foot Azimut yacht, worth a whopping 402,953,050 miles. The stunning Azimut 68S offers a living area laid out entirely on the main deck, three cabins accommodating six people and a unique master suite. Could this be the most expensive frequent flyer reward ever?

If you've flown hundreds of times and feel ready to take control of a plane, Qantas offers a flight simulator experience reward. For 115,000 points, you can experience a sophisticated full-motion simulator, which is so high-tech that it is usually reserved for the training of Qantas pilots. As the captain, you'll be guided by an experienced Qantas instructor, who will take you through a variety of take-off and landing scenarios from airports across the Qantas network.

For a cool 2,000,000 miles, Virgin Atlantic's frequent flyers can treat themselves to space travel by entering a prize draw to win a Virgin Galactic flight. Passengers will become part of a new generation of astronaut, experiencing the thrill of acceleration to over three times the speed of sound and see Earth from over 360,000 feet. Who wants an upgrade to Business Class when you can redeem your miles for the ultimate journey into space?

With Air Baltic's BalticMiles, you can go on a real dog sled ride with huskies mushing through the snow in Latvia. And during the months when it doesn't snow, you'll do it on wheeled carts. Dog sled rides take in five kilometres of Latvia's forests and you can invite a friend to experience the 13,574-points treat with you. Who needs Alaska, when you can go dog sledding in Latvia with your miles?

Imagine walking the red carpet with celebrities, receiving VIP access to music award shows or attending high-profile sporting events. With American Airlines' AAdvantage Miles, you can bid for unique experiences in an online auction using your miles to pay. Past items include a VIP trip to the American Film Institute's AFI FEST, an American Airlines Behind the Scenes package and a trip to the American Music Awards. Currently, American Airlines' frequent flyers can bid for an exclusive ski weekend in Vail, where they can mingle with the celebrities.

Got 7,500 miles to spare? Then you're eligible for Lufthansa's sockscription, which was introduced in 1999 to 'free you and the rest of the world from sock troubles'. 50,000 flyers in 74 countries spend their miles on this unusual reward, which entitles travellers to three pairs of black socks sent several times a year. All you have to do is redeem your Miles & More miles for the socks and you won't have to worry about forgetting to pack a spare pair of socks again!


Related article

Virgin announces free space flight for person with most air miles
Read Full Story