Coffee and Favours

I generally hate asking for favours and hand outs, and pushing the things that are important to me, but I’ve decided to take a risk and promote this one, as it could solve a very big logistical headache for me, and make flying profitable for charities, expeditions, and good causes.

Ocean Dreams

As many of you already know, I hope to row across the Pacific Ocean next year and right now, my ocean row dream is looking dire as I need to fly to the UK for one weekend every 6 weeks to train with my team and coaches at Imperial College and Team Bath.  Being in Georgia and working full time on a new NGO isn’t the most financially rewarding opportunity, so the challenge ahead is huge, especially with expensive flights due to peal season and the Olympic Games, and UK prices being enormous in relation to earnings here.


But I still have three potential solutions.  Firstly to turn OPG into a more business minded venture, charging students to participate in the course, in order to give me a salary and longer term stability.  Secondly if I get the scholarship for my course in Sweden, then as of August I’ll have flights and airmiles for travel to Sweden with enough airmiles to help cover me for UK travel.  Thirdly, to get 100likes on my idea for an airmiles programme for Air Baltic.

The Concept

I’ve blogged a lot about Air Baltic, especially as I always fly with them when I go home to Latvia, since there are only two airlines which fly to the tiny airport of Palanga in Lithuania (the other being SAS which connects to Copenhagen), and only Air Baltic has flights from Tbilisi-Riga-Palanga.  For my Sweden course I will travel Tbilisi-Riga-Sweden.  Thankfully, Air Baltic have always had a very good airmiles scheme and also allow pets to fly, and are generally a very good company, with no frills, and good prices if you book in advance.  This means that, thanks to the Ministry of Education using Air Baltic for my initial flight to Georgia in 2010 and for my vacation flight last summer, I now have enough airmiles to fly back in July, with my dog, for a two month break, in which I plan to write our OPG workbook ready for publishing, and to work on the more office based tasks and to put the OPG International website together, since our Saturday sessions have now finished.  Will certainly be a nice change from almost 40degrees heat, to around 19degrees and the Baltic Sea on my doorstep for swimming in, plus the family sauna, fresh fish since I live in a fishing village, and a little respite before returning in September to start with our new groups of OPGers.  This also means I will be nicely placed to begin my course in Sweden in August (if I get the scholarship), as Sweden and Latvia are brothers, and I can also travel from there to the UK much easier (even by coach) than I can from Tbilisi, in order to meet the row girls at the end of July.

The news about Air Baltic’s brainstorming campaign, couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, and if it works, would solve a lot of my problems, and allow me to stay on the team.  This is the deal, and even if you decide not to vote for my idea, its worth applying for if you want to bag yourself a free flight.

BalticMiles is the 1st loyalty programme in the world to reach out to its members to create an entirely new membership level based on your ideas! As the largest loyalty programme in the region with a network of 160 partners that issue BalticMiles Points, we want to reward members who actively use their card across our partner network! TAKE PART! Add your ideas that answer at least one of the questions below:

  • 1. What should our new membership level be called?
  • 2. What should members do to reach this level?
  • 3. What privileges should these members enjoy?

YOU CAN: • Post several ideas! • Add a picture to make your idea more visible! • Ask us questions on our Facebook wall for more details


The first twenty ideas that reach 100 ‘Likes’ will receive 5000 Points each (which can be exchanged for a free flight or other rewards) 3 ideas selected by BalticMiles = 100 000 Points each! This amount of Points equals 23 free flights and can be used for travel or anything from our reward catalogue over a time period of three years!

The deadline to apply is the 14th July 2012.

I currently have 36 likes, and I need 100, and I’m still up there as one of the first people.  Plus, I actually think my idea is a good one.  And if you like it, then please, please, please like and share my page, because if I can get 5000 airmiles it’ll be a huge help, and if my idea gets picked as one of the three best ones, it’ll give me enough flights for my ocean row and for my PhD, and if implemented will make a difference to lots of deserving causes around the world, potentially changing the face of reward schemes.

My Idea

My idea is based on the ‘pay forward’ concept, something I’ve blogged about many times, including here:

It all started two years ago at Corner Perk, a small, locally owned coffee shop, when a customer paid her bill and left $100 extra, saying she wanted to pay for everyone who ordered after her until the money ran out. The staff fulfilled her request, and the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has returned to leave other large donations every two to three months.

“People will come in and say, ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. Are you trying to buy me a coffee today?’” the shop’s owner, Josh Cooke,told the local news. “And I say, ‘No, somebody came in 30 minutes ago and left money to pay for drinks until it runs out.’”

It took a while, but word has started to spread around the tiny coastal town, home to about 12,000 people. Now, more and more customers have been leaving money to pay for others’ food and drink. Cooke says some people don’t even buy anything when they come in; they just stop to donate and head right back out.

A medium cup of coffee at Corner Perk costs $1.95. That may not seem like a lot, but for a family struggling to save money in these tense and difficult economic times, two bucks saved at the right moment probably feels like a million. And a jolt of generosity is a better pick-me-up than caffeine any day of the week.

But what if you could do this with your airmiles?  In my mind there are generally two types of people who collect airmiles.  Firstly, those who never fly enough for their airmiles to be of any use, in which case they get wasted, and secondly, those who fly so much that they would actually love just one day at home without having to travel somewhere.  How cool would it be to apply the coffee situation to an airmiles programme.  Meaning that you could check in and find yourself with a voucher for a coffee and slice of cake, or maybe even an upgrade on your seat.  Wouldn’t that make flying more exciting,  not knowing what treat was in store for you, or wondering who might be the recipient of your miles and what their reaction might be.  Knowing that you maybe just made their day?  You could donate them in an entirely random fashion if you wanted, like ‘the tenth person to check in on the next flight from Sweden to Rome’.  Or more in the style of buying a nice girl a drink at the bar ‘I’d like to donate them to the pretty blonde at the back of the queue’.

My second thought was that, if you could donate your airmiles to a cause that you were passionate about, you would feel much better about yourself and collecting airmiles could become something very enjoyable.  The cause could be a charity, person, or even an expedition or explorer.

Air Baltic have lots of great gifts in their airmile shop, including perfumes and boxes of chocolates, all of which would make great raffle prizes or perhaps treats for people who wouldn’t usually receive such an item.  It could be jewellery to wear to a special occassion or a toy for a child in an orphanage to play with.

With more airmiles, even flights could be donated.  This might be a pool where airmiles collect and fund flights for rescue workers in times where there is a natural disaster, flying a child to another country for life saving surgery, flights for a PhD student to attend a conference or to give a presentation, or to a charity so they could fly over trainers or skills that they lacked. It could even be for a dog lover to attend a dog show, anything that you were interested in and wanted to support.

In relation to OPG, having flights donated to us, would be a massive help in raising the money for the kids expeditions with Earthwatch and to take them on exchange visits.

More still, what if you could donate your airmiles to an explorer or expedition team, enabling you to be a part of their expedition and helping them to be a step nearer to their goal?  In my case, my row is being pressured by my need to meet with my team, and its not a cost that would interest sponsors, yet is the difference in staying or going and success or failure.

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that you were able to do a lot of good, without really having to do anything, wouldn’t you feel better about yourself, knowing you just changed a life.  And that is what my idea is about, paying forward good energy, and making life more positive and fun.  The acts of both giving and receiving are pleasant experiences as is the act of a nice surprise.  Could we change the face of future airlines and the flying community? Could we bring people together somehow?

So, that is my idea, and I really need a lot of help in making this work, as those flights would totally change my future and enable me to follow my dreams with the ocean row.  If you like my idea or want to see the Global Giving Programme implemented by not just Air Baltic, but all future airlines, then please like my page, the link is here:

it could just lead to charities benefiting from other people’s holidays!!


About Sarah Rows Solo

British YouTuber and Founder of Environmental and STEM education charity Oceans Project, preparing for a solo row around the coast of Great Britain.
This entry was posted in Earthwatch, Latvia Life, My PhD: Environmental Psychology, Ocean Rowing, Oceans Project and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s