Airlines Offer No Charity

Every now and then, a long-planned trip has to be canceled and an airline ticket goes to waste. Ticket offers expire under the watchful eye of even the most seasoned travelers, but the airlines’ tricky non-refundable ticket clause means there’s no way to get money back.

The Middle Seat suggested that unused airline tickets be donated to charity. There’s only one problem: airlines don’t allow that either. Most airlines also include a clause stating that tickets are non-transferable, even for popular charities. Even unused, unneeded frequent flier miles can’t be donated. It’s not that the airlines can’t change their rules to allow for the transfer to charities with a heavy hand in travel, they just won’t.

In 2008 alone, the Make-A-Wish Foundation spent $32 million on airline tickets for terminally ill children and their families, bringing them to experience their one last wish. The Middle Seat offers up the idea of a change free of $150 domestically and $250 internationally to cover administrative costs, but airlines won’t budge because this will still result in the loss of a great deal of money, in comparison to the cost of two tickets (your unusable ticket and the ticket that the charity will still have to purchase.)

Some non-legacy airlines including Southwest, JetBlue, and Air Canada will allow for certain non-refundable tickets to be credited toward a future ticket for yourself or another traveler, so perhaps there’s still hope for a progression toward charitable donations.