December 30, 2014 | Kendall Creighton TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2014 Last Chance for 2014 Tax Deductions December 30, 2014 As the saying goes, ’tis better to give than receive. Here’s another way to get rid of those pesky frequent-flyer miles. Well, it’s not the miles that are pesky, it’s those warnings that your miles are going to expire due to inactivity that get irritating.This year, instead of trading in a few hundred miles for magazine subscriptions – gift your miles to FlyersRights!Pledge to donate your miles to our volunteer staffers at FlyersRights who need to travel for meetings, etc. Alternatively, FlyersRights will accept miles into our matching frequent-flyer account (an airline fee may apply). Please contact FlyersRights’ president Paul Hudson at Paul@flyersrights.org to donate.Thank you. Double Your Tax Benefits By Donating Appreciated Stock If you traditionally give cash at year end, consider this: higher tax rates and strong stock returns make donating stock an especially attractive tax-saving move. Many stocks in the last year have posted strong returns. And with higher tax rates, you face paying increased capital gains tax on their investments if sold. As for gifting appreciated stock, the donor just has to transfer it to the FlyersRights.org account and will receive a tax deduction based on the present market value rather than what they paid for it. Making a donation of stock can double your tax benefit. If you donate an appreciated security, you will avoid paying the capital gain on the sale. In addition, the gifted stock allows you to deduct the value of the donation on your tax return. FlyersRights.org is equipped and ready to receive your stock donations. Just tell your broker you wish to donate stock to FlyersRights.org. For account number contact Paul Hudson at (800) 662-1859. FlyersRights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Federal Tax ID 27-4519068 Disclaimer: it is wise to consult with your tax advisor when contemplating gifting money or property. 2014 – A Grim Year For Modern Aviation The world was stunned when MH370 vanished back in March.Now, over the weekend, another plane was lost. Nearly 72 hours later, Indonesian rescuers are pulling bodies and wreckage from the sea off the coast of Borneo of AirAsia flight QZ850. Again, the world asks, how is it possible that in 2014 we couldn’t immediately locate an aircraft when it lost contact with air traffic control? On Monday, FlyersRights president Paul Hudson stressed to Reuters, “It should be impossible for an airliner to go missing” in an age when people can track their phones and cars to within a few feet. Better tracking and real-time flight-data monitoring became urgent issues after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing in March with 239 people on board, possibly flying for hours on autopilot as a “ghost plane” until its fuel ran out. It is thought to have crashed in a remote part of the Indian Ocean. Its disappearance prompted the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, to set up a task force led by the International Air Transport Association on tracking systems. IATA’s working group, representing airlines, pilots, air traffic controllers and airplane makers, already has agreed aircraft should be tracked to the nearest nautical mile. Air Disasters Outside of the US 2014 has seen crashes in other parts of the world, and it needs to be figured out what is being done differently. Here in the US, the last fatal accident involving a domestic commercial flight was Colgan Air Flight 3407, which crashed near Buffalo, killing 50 in Feburary 2009. Is this the result of good US government? Appropriate, proactive protection and regulation? It’s been well documented that the the FAA continues to view its main task as promotion of the Airline Industry rather than as the lead advocate for commercial aviation safety.And the airlines have a history of fighting requirements because they’re “expensive”, so the FAA – at best – makes recommendations or makes reporting voluntary. As the world gets smaller, more Americans are flying outside of the country. In much of the rest of the world, our level of pilot and engineer training, flight hours and personal commitment to safety does not exist, says aviation expert Chris Yates to DW. This year’s Malaysian air disasters point to disturbing trends, reportsBloomberg Businessweek, that raise question of whether flying in peninsular Southeast Asia is completely safe.The air market in the region has embraced low-cost carriers, leading to a proliferation of flights throughout Southeast Asia, stretching air traffic controllers, and possibly allowing some airlines to expand too rapidly.Indonesian carriers, air traffic controllers, and Indonesian airspace in general have become notorious for weak safety regulations, concluded Bloomberg. Year End Mystery Its that time of the year again, so before we start planning our events of the new year let’s take the time to look back at what has happened over the past 365 days:Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 (Hijacking) – no deaths. Malaysia Ailines Flight 370 (Unknown) – 239 deaths. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (Shot down over Eastern Ukraine) – 283 Air Algerie Flight 5017 (Crashed in Mali – Investigation Continues)- 116 deaths. TransAsia Airways Flight 222 (Crashed Into buildings – Investgation Continues) – 48 deaths. AirAsia Flight 8501 (crashed off the coast of Borneo) -162 deaths. What is extraordinary is the high percentage of accidents when at cruising altitude, generally accepted the safest part of any flight. Corrections In last week’s newsletter, we listed a wrong college where our summer interns hailed from. They are American University and Georgetown University – not George Washington University. In last week’s letter response on non-refundable tickets, we should have clarified that non-refundable tickes have become non-usable by airlines imposing very high change fees.There are two exceptions: You can get a refund on a nonrefundable ticket if you cancel within 24 hours of making the reservation or if the airline cancels or excessively delays the flight and you do not take the flight. Kate Hanni, founder with Paul Hudson, President Sign our FlyersRights Petition for a Passenger Bill of Rights 2.0! Click Here To Donate! Getting on a Plane? Put This Number in Your Phone: Send comments to the editor, KendallCreighton or @KendallFlyers Read past newsletters!