Hurricane Sandy

How to donate airline miles, hotel points & money to storm relief efforts

LaGuardia Airport during the storm. Courtesy Port Authority New York & New Jersey

A lot of people need – and will continue to need – help recovering from Superstorm Sandy and several airlines are offering incentives for their customers to make cash donations to the Red Cross and other relief organizations.

Here are a few options:

JetBlue  is matching up to $50,000 in customer donations to the Red Cross and will give 6 TrueBlue points for every dollar you donate through 11/30/12.

On Thursday, the United Airlines Foundation announced that it upped from $50,000 to $100,000 the amount of donations it will match to the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and Feeding America. MileagePlus members who give a minimum of $50 will receive 250 bonus miles, and those who contribute $100 or more will receive 500 bonus miles. Find details here.

American Airlines is encouraging people to donate to the Red Cross as well. Through November 30, 2012, AAdvantage members can earn a one-time award of 250 AAdvantage bonus miles for a minimum $50 donation, or 500 AAdvantage bonus miles for a donation of $100. Details here.

The Delta Air Lines Foundation has given $100,000 to the Red Cross for storm relief and is encouraging customers to donate Sky Miles to the Red Cross for storm relief.

This page on the Red Cross website lists ways you can donate miles from Delta, United and US Airways and this page on the Red Cross website lists ways you can donate credit card rewards and hotel points from Choice Hotels, Hilton, Marriott and Starwood properties.

Hilton HHonors has partnered with GlobalGiving and from now until December 31, 2012 will give you 10 HHonors Bonus Points for every $1 USD donated to support the relief efforts. Hilton is also  matching all donations up to $100,000. Donate here.

Starwood has announced that it will match donations of at least 2,000 Starpoints made by members of the Starwood Preferred Guests program to the American Red Cross through November 30, 2012. (2,0000 Starpoints equals a $25 donation.) Donate here.

Know of another airline, hotel, car rental or travel-related organization offering matches or bonuses to those who help out with storm relief? Let me know and I’ll update this list.


Resources for those stranded by Sandy

Airports closed. Thousands of flights canceled. Homes, businesses, lives and travel plans ruined by the hurricane formerly known as Sandy.

It’s still too much to handle.  And it’s having on impact way beyond the areas directly hit by the storm.

Here are some resources that may help:


The New York City airports (LGA, Newark and JFK) are closed on Tuesday and while many airports on the east coast and elsewhere are technically open, most show pretty much all flights canceled. But if you find yourself stuck at an airport, one of the 50 airport guides I maintain for USA TODAY may be helpful.  Here’s a link to those airport guides.


USA TODAY has been updating its list of many of the airline weather waiver policies. 

If you airline isn’t listed, check their website as well as their Facebook and Twitter feed for the latest details.

Cancellations remain staggering.  Take a look at the count on Flightstats


Amtrak has suspended most service in the Northeast on Tuesday, October 30th.


Many hotels are issuing refunds and allowing travelers to change non-refundable reservations. Many hotels are also offering storm-rates to stranded travelers.  Hotels near airports may have “distressed traveler” rates available, but be sure to compare those rates to those found on last-minute booking sites.

Figuring out what to do

Travel Guard is offering some free emergency travel and medical assistance services to U.S. and Canadian travelers and their families affected by Hurricane Sandy and storms in the northeastern United States.





Hurricane Sandy: airlines, airports not fooling around

Airlines & airports are not fooling around when it comes to Hurricane Sandy.

On Sunday evening, news outlets were reporting that airlines had already canceled close to 7,000 flights throughout the system – not just in the northeast – in anticipation of the storm and encouraging passengers to take advantage of cancellation waiver offers.

Airports are doing their part to reinforce the message. Here’s part of a message that Philadelphia International Airport sent out Sunday evening:

“We have been advised by our airlines that all flight operations have been canceled for tomorrow, Monday, October 29th. This is a dangerous storm and safety is our main concern

We and the airlines will be monitoring/assessing the situation throughout the day tomorrow to determine when flight activity can resume. We ask individuals not to come to the airport.”

Other airports are sending out similar messages. This one from Nashville International Airport:

“Beginning later this evening, the majority of commercial service flights into and out of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York, N.Y., have been cancelled. If you are flying to these cities, please check your flight status.”

Bottom line: stay home, stay away from the airport, stay safe.