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The Mileage Run:
This is a term that is thrown around the travel community all the time, as is the term Mattress Run or Status Run.
So what does this exactly mean?
“Running” revolves around the concept of doing a task whether it be a flight or hotel stay that simply earns miles or nights towards a specific goal…mainly elite status within a frequent travel program. Let’s take a minute to think about why someone would hop on hours of flights or even one extra flight merely to obtain status. The example below is a slight variation on the mileage run because I’ve actually done things in the destination cities, but I’ve chosen a specific airline in a condensed period of time that I wouldn’t have normally done.
An example I’ve recently done.
Here’s an example of my recent month’s travels. I have specifically traveled to all of these places and in some cases made excuses to make the trip simply to earn AAdvantage miles. Why? Because I’m on a status challenge and need to make 10000 EQP ( Executive Qualifying Points) within 3 months. These 8 segments roughly total 11600 miles. Bingo! Platinum!! Now on at least 4 of these segments it was cheaper for me to fly direct or with a competitor: LAX-YUL and LAX-IND ( the first with Air Canada and the latter with Delta). All totaled it was maybe an extra 125 bucks and several hours. ( maybe I should value my time more?)
So why take a more expensive option?
STATUS STATUS STATUS
I live in Los Angeles and that is a hub of American Airlines. I also value their miles more than Delta or United ( who I would have credited the Air Canada flight to ) not only because of their flights, but they have incredible partners and an amazing award chart. In August I looked at my upcoming travels and decided it was worth it to go for an American Airlines Platinum Status Challenge primarily because I thought 2016 could be a big year of international travel and the 100% bonus that Platinum status guarantees would be incredible. But there are other benefits to having Platinum status that persuaded me to spend the extra time and money challenging. Platinum status is an enormous value play for me.
I’m sort of gambling that American is going to continue to offer these promotional deals next year. I’m also hoping that the incredible business class fares that were around last summer are available again ( they were in 2014…) – I mean these had business to Europe from the east coast on BA for well under $1300 and in some cases with the CARDOFFERU and AARP ( yes I’m a proud member of AARP ) discounts under $1000!!!!!!
- One of the big reasons that they offered them, in my opinion and research, is because they are the one legacy carrier that still values their loyalty program. They were also rewarding their members far less miles than commensurate status in a competing airline would reward theirs. As a result…The made some HUGELY lucrative offers to members who might want to fly in the forward cabin.
So if American does decide to keep these offers on the table I stand to make some enormous mileage bonuses on top of the 100% mileage bonus their status always guarantees. It costs $240 to do a challenge plus the $150 in extra fares puts me in for about $400. If we value American miles at $0.02 per mile I’d need to earn a bonus of 20000 miles to make up the difference ( not counting the 500 mile upgrades I’d earn too).
Let’s take one trip that I already have lined up….It’s LAX-LHR in business class in May on British Airways.
Doing the Math: ( If American continues their promotion)
LAX-LHR-LAX in J = 10912 Miles
- Platinum Bonus: 10912
- Mileage Bonus: 6000 each way…12000
- Class of Service Bonus: 5456
- EQP ( x3) = 32736
- 4 – 500 miles upgrade certs ( given every 10000 EQM)
- Mileage Bonus: 12000
- Class of service Bonus: 5456
- EQP (x3) = 32736
Now this is only one flight but you can see that we are way over half way to break even on mileage and that’s on just one flight. This doesn’t include the 500 mile certs or the coach flights that I will be able to take and pick preferred seats.
Running of any sort comes down to the cost and the time you have to spare. I would suggest that you sit down and really debate the upside and downside of running. We’ve all read plenty of stories about guys getting on flights for a single day just to accrue miles to get them to the next status. I would certainly do that if it would secure me a valuable status on an airline and one that financially makes sense after crunching the numbers. I love status, and when I’ve needed to make a change or request an upgrade have been rewarded so many times by a loyalty program because of that status. If you can find a friend that will run with you, it’ll be a very memorable way to spend a few weekends or just one really long day 😉
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