The term “mileage run” gets thrown around among frequent flyers who are looking for cheap ways to achieve elite status with an airline. Each year, one has to fly a certain amount of miles in order to achieve or maintain an elite status with a given airline, which can be difficult if you can’t maintain a certain level of traveling on an annual basis.
First off, why would someone want elite status? What’s so great about being a silver, gold, or platinum member? Well, for starters, there are a lot of great perks that go along with your status and they can sometimes be invaluable to customers who travel quite often. The perks range from complimentary upgrades in domestic. trans-continental, and international routes, free lounge access, free checked bags, no cancellation fees, no change fees, personalized customer service, and more.
So if you’ve flown 40,000 miles this year and you’re looking to make a mileage run in order to reach the next tier status, you might be inclined to purchase a cheap ticket that makes a couple of stopovers or flies a long distance in order to collect those extra miles before the end of the year and you lose the opportunity to maintain or achieve elite status. I recently came across a forum on FlyerTalk in which user flipside posts a mileage run itinerary that takes mileage running to an extreme and comical level of what some people will do in order to achieve that coveted status.
I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to endure such an arduous and intense travel itinerary in coach with barely any interaction with the outside world. However, it will almost instantly grant you a gold level elite status with most airlines and, for those brave enough, they will be earning about 4 cents per mile. I prefer to use examples such as flying from San Diego to San Francisco with a stopover on the east coast that will essentially help you reach a few extra thousand miles needed to help you maintain or reach elite status. I have a friend who finds cheap deals to Europe for sometimes under $300, flies to Japan for $500, and finds cost effective ways and cheap flights including multiple stopovers to earn elite status each year.
My advice is to make sure you keep tabs on your mileage accounts and make sure you don’t lose elite status or miss out on gaining elite status just because you were 1,000 miles short at the end of the year. It’s definitely worth booking a short-haul flight where you get on a plane, land in a different city, and get right back on the plane to return home. For great deals on mileage run flights, I recommend following Airfarewatchdog, which posts great deals from major cities every day. It’s also worth following the FlyerTalk forum that discusses great mileage run flights for cheap.
Once you achieve status with an airline it’s also worth looking into status match challenges offered by other airlines. Airlines will often offer you the ability to achieve status with their airline if you already have status with a competitor airline. So if you already have elite status or you’re working to achieve elite status, you will definitely want to look into matching programs that will offer you similar benefits at discounted rates.