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Energy tip #27: The best frequent flier miles are those unspent

DomAmong a raft of holiday cards this season, I received one ugly letter from the otherwise nice folks at Continental airlines — my notice of achieving elite status. We try to minimize trips as much as possible at TerraPass, but with partners and board members scattered across Seattle, Michigan, and the east coast, I log a lot of miles on the red-eye.

And every year I make status, it’s a sign I’m not doing too well on the carbon emissions front, with my savings from hang drying my laundry canceled out even before I cross the Rockies. As for the potential free trips, between ridiculous blackout dates and the carbon guilt, most of these miles will never be used.

Some interesting propositions have cropped up that I’m now investigating. Did you know you can donate miles to RedCross, Make a Wish Foundation or the National Marrow Donor Program? Who knows? Maybe soon, you’ll be able to turn them in for a TerraPass and click your heels twice for the double karma points.

Of course status does have some benefits, like early check-in and good seating. For those of us looking longingly at the premier flyers and hoping to achieve their coveted status, think about a lower-carbon strategy — just buy the miles! Josh Kopelman has a great post this week about briefly contemplating a day trip to Rome just to acheive premier executive status. Fortunately, he discovered that four bottles of Dom Perignon would do the trick just as well. Cheers, Josh, for reducing your mileage count a little bit in 2006.

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