Unused airline miles can go to good causes Donations: Most airlines will let customers turn frequent flier miles over to charities. United will also allow transfer of scrip issued after 1994-1995 class action.

Travel Q&A

October 05, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

I noticed recently that scrip coupons that were issued to claimants in the class action suit against the airlines expire on Jan. 1. I will be unable to use $69 worth of scrip. Can I donate it to airline programs that donate miles to charities?

While airlines do have programs to pass along frequent flier miles to a charity, only one carrier involved in the class-action suit said it could convert scrip to benefit a charitable cause. The airline, United, asked that those wishing to donate scrip call its civic affairs manager at 847-700-5970.

The other airlines, which are listed below, said they could not credit scrip toward charities either because they had no mechanism for doing so or because the scrip was nonnegotiable and nontransferable except to immediate family members.

Awarded in late 1994 and early 1995 to 4.2 million claimants who charged that airlines were fixing prices, the scrip certificates can be applied to the purchase of a round-trip ticket on a single carrier. The certificates represent only a fraction -- 10 percent, at best -- of each ticket bought. For example, a $25 certificate can be applied toward a ticket costing $250 to $499.

If you would like to donate frequent flier miles, here are the programs and plans of the U.S. carriers that issued scrip:

* American, 800-882-8880. Donated miles benefit a program that flies seriously ill children for medical treatment and to places they want to go -- like amusement parks. For every three miles donated, American donates one mile.

* Continental, 713-952-1630. Donors can give miles to Americares, the Brass Ring Society and Careforce.

* Delta, 800-323-2323. Miles can be given to CARE, Make-a-Wish Foundation and United Way of America. For every five miles contributed, Delta donates one mile.

* At Northwest, 800-225-2525 is the number to call for general information. The airline helps a different charity every quarter; for the last quarter of 1997, it is the National Marrow Donor Program, 800-627-7692. Or write the program at 3433 Broadway St., N.E., Suite 500, Minneapolis, Minn. 55413.

* This fall TWA, 800-221-2000, plans to resume its frequent-flier program benefiting Operation Liftoff, which helps critically ill children.

* United, 800-325-0041. Miles may be given to any of 14 charities -- 11 in the United States, three international.

* US Airways, 800-428-4322. For miles to be converted into a ticket for charity, the passenger will need to supply the recipient's name, which may require calling the charity first.

We have heard that ferry service between Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and Progreso, Yucatan, or possibly a port in Quintana Roo, is about to begin. Can you provide any information?

Empress Cruise Lines, which runs day cruises off Florida, had planned to start service to Mexico on an 800-passenger ferry by year's end, Espen Tandberg, a vice president of the company, said early last month.

But plans appear to have been cast into doubt by financial and legal disputes involving Empress, which sought federal bankruptcy protection in June under Chapter 11 after a casino operator that had advanced money to run a gambling ship won a $3.1 million judgment against Adventure Seaways, an arm of Empress Seaways.

Then on Sept. 18, the Seminole Empress, which was to have been used for the Florida-Mexico service, was seized by federal marshals. The vessel had been leased to Emerald Empress Holdings by a Norwegian company known as Color Line. Color Line claims it is owed about $1 million in charter fees.

Meanwhile, the city of St. Petersburg, in whose port three Empress vessels are being rebuilt, is seeking payment of at least $340,000 in rent.

Further information on plans for ferry service is unavailable; Tandberg did not return telephone calls placed last week.

I am going to Ireland and would like to visit the grave of the Irish poet and dramatist Padraic Colum. Please tell me where it is and how to reach it.

Colum, who was also a novelist and author of children's books, was a founder of the Irish National Theater, later known as the Abbey Theater. Starting in 1905, three major plays of his -- "The Land," "The Fiddler's House" and "Thomas Muskerry" -- were performed there. Among the issues Colum, who was a friend of James Joyce, dealt with in his works were land ownership, poverty and migration.

Colum, who spent more than half his life in the United States, is buried in the 1954 extension of St. Fintan's Cemetery in Sutton, near Dublin.

From Connolly Station in downtown Dublin, take a DART train bound for Howth to Sutton, the next-to-last stop. The fare is $1.65, calculated at 66 Irish pence to the dollar; travel time is 26 minutes.

From the station, one can walk, which takes about 10 minutes, or take a cab. Among the taxi companies available there is Classic Cabs, (353-1) 839 0122; the fare, one way, is $4.50.

Colum is buried next to his wife, Mary Maguire Colum, who died in 1957. At his grave, surmounted by a Celtic cross, there is a marker that reads:

PADRAIC COLUM

POET DRAMATIST NOVELIST

LONGFORD

DECEMBER 1881

ENFIELD CONNECTICUT

JANUARY 1972

Dream of me there in stirless air

Beyond the seagull's range

Above enshadowed beings we name

Time and loss and change

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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