Author, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and United Airlines frequent flyer Peter Shankman has found a way to use his reward miles to spread a bit of holiday joy this season. The elite status air traveler is once again spending his unused MileagePlus awards to send five lucky travelers home for the holidays.
Business traveler Peter Shankman is once again giving Santa a run for his money this year. The frequent flyer is putting his unused reward miles to good use, giving five homesick passengers a change to spend the holidays with family.
This year, the 46-year-old will use his United Airlines MileagePlus rewards to help five deserving strangers to reunite with loved ones over the holidays. Shankman estimates that he has helped more than 100 travelers to make it home for the holidays in the five years he has been donating his reward miles to strangers.
“It’s pretty neat,” Shankman told ABC News. “It’s a great feeling to know that I could do this. The last thing I want to do is travel when I’m home. For me it was about being able to do something where I could help people and make a difference for someone. I plan on doing it every year that I can, as much as I can.”
This year, the benevolent frequent flyer donated his miles through the social media image sharing platform Imgur. Travelers in need submitted requests directly to Imgur and users voted for the most deserving candidates.
“I haven’t really been able to spend holidays with them since I went to get my Master’s degree in Kansas,” one of this year’s winners, 26-year-old student Morgan Bothwell explained. “My mom wasn’t even going to put up a tree this year because she thought, ‘Why go to the trouble?’”
It appears this story will have a happy ending for more than just the lucky families who were able to reconnect through Shankman’s generosity. United Airlines officials say that they were inspired to pay his good works forward this year. The carrier also encouraged other elite flyers to do the same.
“We love welcoming Peter on board and appreciate his loyalty, passion and generosity,” United Airlines told ABC’s Good Morning America this week. “Donating miles is a powerful way to make a difference and we encourage all of our customers to visit to give to the charities that matter most to them. To say thank you to Peter for helping bring others home for the holidays, we are proud to share that we will donate 200,000 miles to the United charity partner of his choice.”