It’s been exactly one year since the go-to method to find mileage runs died – the FareCompare Flyertalk tool. The folks at FareCompare claimed it would return and even had a “coming soon” notation earlier this year. That has since totally disappeared and repeated requests for information from them fell on silent ears. I have a feeling the airlines in some manner dissuaded them from bringing it back.
Readers ask me almost every week how I go about finding mileage runs these days and while I have no one method anymore, I’ll share my current list of resources.
- Flyertalk’s Mileage Run Deals: Sorta goes without saying that this forum should be on your daily reading list if you’re on the hunt for a mileage run. It’s often the first place spectacular runs appear in the 2.0-4.0 cents-per-mile (CPM) range. The only problem, of course, is the fact the city pairs posted may be nowhere near you. I’ll often consider a positioning flight to get to the origin if it’s really a killer deal.
- FareCompare’s Getaway Map: FareCompare left their map feature untouched (so far). It lists the lowest fares by month to worldwide destinations on a map with the “ability” to filter by airline. I say “ability” because it rarely works – the results often show fares from all airlines even if you only select one. Then, there’s the cumbersome task of zooming in and scrolling around the country (or world) to see the detail. I have found mileage run fares this way, though it annoys me.
- ITA Software’s Matrix Airfare Search: If you attended FTU, you learned Ben’s method using ITA’s Matrix Airfare Search. Basically, you plug in your origin, designate your carrier and number of connections, and type in some cities you want to check. Below I’ve plugged in Reno to various East Coast cities on United with two or more connections wanting to see a calendar of the lowest fares for a zero-night stay.
Be sure to uncheck the “Allow airport changes” box or you’ll wind up with flights into Miami and out of Columbus, for example. And which cities to search? Well, I end up trying about seven at a time where I’ve historically known good fares have hit. If you get aggressive and search too many cities at once, you’ll often get a timeout error. Once you press “Search,” it’ll take you to the calendar of lowest fares from which you can click in for more detail.
- ExpertFlyer’s Fare Information Search: Much along the lines of using ITA Software to check random cities, I use ExpertFlyer’s Fare Information Search to check all fares loaded for certain city pairs:
Again, I plug in cities that have historically had decent fares and also random “new” ones just for the hell of it. I typically pick major hubs or cities where Southwest has a presence, but I’ve come across decent fares in the past to cities you wouldn’t expect, such as Daytona Beach, Tucson and Saginaw. This method allows you to see the raw fare data and validity dates, sometimes not as obvious on ITA. Note: I subscribe to ExpertFlyer for $99/year, so I have unlimited queries for this purpose. It ends up being invaluable to me for access to each fare’s routing rules, not to mention EF’s other great features.
- Twitter: I’m pretty active on Twitter and follow many sources who post great fares, including @airfarewatchdog, @Expefarealert and @TheFlightDeal. Sometimes a fare might not seem that great, but if you dig deeper using ExpertFlyer’s routing rules, you’ll discover gems like this recent Seattle to Columbus example.
- Wandering Aramean’s Lowest Fare Finder: Seth reports his data stream isn’t populating live fare data at the moment, but it by far is/will be the easiest method to find mileage runs akin to the old FareCompare Flyertalk tool. A free account allows you to search and sort in very similar fashion to the old FC tool:
Keep your eye on this tool – he mentions it might be back up and running again with live fares next month (at the earliest).
Many readers have also asked for specific help with their preferred airlines and origins and I’ll do my best to post those mileage runs as I find them.
Do you have other methods that work for you?