A Traveler's Guide to Helping Out in Haiti
In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, travel companies are mobilizing to assist disaster victims.
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Just to name a few: Virgin America is flying hundreds of disaster relief boxes to the country, United Airlines workers are flying over and distributing aid themselves, Royal Caribbean is transporting supplies on cruise ships, Spirit Air is donating $75 for anyone who signs up for their credit card, and Travel Guard is providing free emergency travel and medical assistance to travelers affected by the earthquake.
How can travelers help? To start, you can choose to support companies that are providing aid or collecting donations. Some hotels and airlines are allowing frequent travelers to convert points and miles into donations, and several companies have pledged to match the amount of donations received through their websites. Here is a detailed list of the ways travel companies are helping Haiti.
American Airlines: Travelers looking to support relief efforts by donating to the American Red Cross can earn 250 bonus miles for a minimum donation of $50 or 500 bonus miles for a donation of $100 or more through American Airlines website. The offer runs through February 28th, 2010.
Continental: Travelers can donate their OnePass miles to a variety of charities, including the American Red Cross and AmeriCares.
Delta: Through Delta's SkyWish Charities program, travelers can donate miles or donate money directly to the American Red Cross.
JetBlue: JetBlue has set up an Online Donation Site with the American Red Cross. Donations will contribute to deploying personnel, sending relief supplies, and providing financial resources.
Southwest: The airline has included a direct link to the American Red Cross on their homepage.
Spirit Air: Spirit Airlines has pledged to provide up to $10 million to Yele for relief efforts in Haiti. The airline will give $75 for every qualified person who applies for a Free Spirit MasterCard. Additionally, members of Spirit Air's frequent flier program who donate $5 or more to Yele Haiti, Unicef or American Red Cross will receive 5,000 "Free Spirit" Air miles. The airline has canceled regularly scheduled flights between Fort Lauderdale and Port-au-Prince.
United Airlines: United just announced it will fly 30 relief flights to Haiti, carrying water, tents, and communications equipment. The airline does not regularly offer services to Haiti, so the carrier is bringing its own ramp workers along to lend helping hands. On the airline's website, travelers can donate to the American Red Cross or Operation USA by donating miles, and The United Airlines Foundation will match up to $50,000 for donations made on the website.
US Airways: Travelers can donate miles to the American Red Cross through their Donate Miles page. The airline also announced that they would match, dollar for dollar, total employee contributions of up to $25,000.
Virgin America: Virgin Atlantic and their non-profit foundation Virgin Unite is rallying to deliver aid and medical personnel to Haiti. They have already committed to flying a minimum of 55 tons of cargo, including hundreds of ShelterBoxes that contain a disaster relief tent for up to 10 people, a stove, blankets and other essential survival items.
Best Western: Best Western Rewards members can contribute points to World Vision, Best Western's official charity partner. 5,000 rewards points will give $20 to the relief effort.
Choice Hotels: At the beginning of the year, Choice Hotels had announced they would be opening a Comfort Inn and boutique hotel in Haiti, the first proposal for Haiti in nearly a decade. There has been no word on whether or not plans will continue, but Choice Hotels loyalty program members can still donate to the Red Cross through Choice's donation page.
Hilton Worldwide: HHonors points can be donated in increments of 10,000, which equals a $25 donation. One hundred percent of the donations go directly to the Red Cross. For details on how to donate your points, visit the HHonors website.
Marriott International: According to CEO Bill Marriott, Marriott hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are being used as staging areas for relief efforts underway in Haiti. The hotel chain allows reward members to donate to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies via their website, where $25 cash will be donated for every 10,000 points.
Starwood Hotels: Starpoints can be transferred into donations to the Red Cross, and the chain will match any contributions made through February 15th. A $50 donation equals 4,000 Starpoints, for more details visit the Starwood Preferred Guest website.
Carnival Corporation: Carnival has donated $5 million to Haiti relief through relief organizations UNICEF, the University of Miami's Project Medishare, American Red Cross, and Save the Children. The company is also working with the Miami Heat to collect emergency supplies that are being shipped and distributed to Haiti.
Disney Cruise Line: Disney has donated $100,000 to the Red Cross International Fund to support Haiti's relief efforts.
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian is allowing passengers to donate to the Red Cross via onboard account or by cash in designated drop boxes at reception areas fleetwide. The company has pledged a dollar-for-dollar company match, and their Miami office is collecting supplies that will be delivered to Haiti.
Royal Caribbean International: Onboard Royal Caribbean ships, passengers can make donations to Food for the Poor's Haiti Relief Fund through their onboard accounts. Ships will call on Labadee as scheduled, bringing with them relief supplies as well as guests. The company is also donating $1 million in humanitarian relief, and donated 100 percent of the next proceeds from its first day back to the port to Haitian relief.
Auto Europe: This car rental service is donating $5 per reservation toward a humanitarian fund. Imad Khalidi, CEO of Auto Europe, has pledged to personally match the amount of donations received.
Travel Guard: Travel Guard, a travel insurance company, will provide free emergency travel and medical assistance services to travelers and families affected by the earthquake. Services include emergency medical arrangements and evacuations, temporary lodging, cash wire transfers, passport replacement, translation services, message relay, and luggage tracking.
From Your Phone
On January 15th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that donations made through text messages to her aid line have surpassed $10 million. Here is a list of numbers you can text to donate money, the charge will be added to your next cell phone bill:
- Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
- Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
- Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
- Text YELE to 501501 to donation $5 to Yele (Wyclef Jean's charity)
- Text RELIEF to 30644 to get automatically connected to Catholic Relief Services and donate money with your credit card
- Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
- Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
- Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International