Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Frequent Flyer Air Support

In honor of Memorial Day, The Motley Fool salutes current and former military personnel and their families with a series of articles addressing common financial issues they face. Check out all of the Fool's Memorial Day articles.

Getting a little R&R has always been one of those perks that people in the military look forward to longingly. A little downtime away from the pressures of the front line is as necessary for a service member's mental health as those yummy K-rations are for physical health. (OK -- maybe not.)

Yet when you're stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, there aren't too many places where you can get a respite from hostilities. Going home on leave has always been the preferred option, but it's especially costly from the other side of the world. But a Maryland congressman hit on a pretty simple idea: Let travelers donate their frequent flier miles to help men and women in uniform get home for free.

Miles for heroes
With nearly a dozen airlines signing up for the program, including American (NYSE: AMR  ) , US Airways (NYSE: LCC  ) , and United (Nasdaq: UAUA  ) , Operation Hero Miles was an immediate success. As of Dec. 31, 2006, more than 8,000 airline tickets have been given to military members and their families -- the equivalent of 380 million frequent flyer miles.

However, rest and relaxation aren't the program's primary focus anymore. In early 2004, Congress and the military approved free travel for all military personnel going on R&R. As a result, the Hero Miles program evolved by helping those who have been injured as a result of their service in these hot zones. In addition to the major air carriers, a number of regional airlines also signed on, including AirTran (NYSE: AAI  ) , Midwest (AMEX: MEH  ) , and Frontier (Nasdaq: FRNT  ) .

The program is run for the military by a non-profit organization called the Fisher House Foundation, which builds "comfort homes" at major military and VA hospital sites. They allow families to stay close to military personnel who have been injured in war.

Whether you're using Continental's (NYSE: CAL  ) OnePass program, Delta's (NYSE: DAL  ) SkyMiles, or any of the other frequent flyer programs the airlines offer, you can help those who've been injured in the line of duty reunite with their families. With each ticket representing a cost savings of around $1,300 over the cost of a full-fare commercial airline ticket, it's so far saved military members and their families more than $10 million since the program began.

That's not to say you shouldn't be selfish with your air miles -- after all, you earned them. But consider what those miles could mean to a soldier, airman, sailor, or Marine lying far from home in a hospital bed. Helping that service member be with family could be the best gift you've ever made.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 528495, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/22/2016 9:58:17 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 12 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

5/2/2011 4:04 PM
AAI.DL2 $7.43 Down +0.00 +0.00%
AirTran Holdings CAPS Rating: **
AAMRQ.DL $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
CAL.DL2 $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Continental Airlin… CAPS Rating: *
LCC.DL $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
US Airways Group CAPS Rating: *
UAUA.DL $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
UAL Corp CAPS Rating: *