I’m certain it is in writing somewhere that I will not do a mileage run (but please – don’t feel obligated to find that and re-post it for me!). I am sure that was 100% true at the time it was written, but life keeps on moving and changing, and now this quasi-mileage run is sounding more and more logical for me. I can’t tell if I truly have gone crazy, or if I would truly be crazy to not do it. Which way is up in this rabbit hole??
First things first, for those who have no clue what a mileage run is, it is a flight you take pretty much purely in order to earn miles. More often than not it is the elite qualifying miles that are actively sought, with the redeemable miles being a nice bonus. If that still doesn’t make sense, ask in the comments and I will do my best to explain further. Normally mileage runs happen under a few different scenarios. They typically happen when a very low or mistake fare is found, when an airline is running a promotion for something like double elite qualifying miles, or it is the end of a year and someone is a few (thousand) miles short of getting to the next elite threshold for the following year.
I was previously not interested in doing a mileage run because I wasn’t really flying enough on paid travel for elite status to be a realistic goal. I flew primarily for leisure, and primarily on award tickets that earned no miles. That has been changing somewhat as I have more flights that are now on paid tickets. Also, even just a year ago leaving my kiddo at home for a day or two while I was off flying around was much harder than it is now that she is a little bit older. However, I was by no means out looking for a mileage run opportunity….one just kind of landed in my lap.
As a perk of going on the OneWorld MegaDO, there is a post-DO challenge available that awards 3x redeemable miles on all purchased flights flown from March 1, 2012 through May 31, 2012, if you increase the number of miles flown on American Airlines by 100% compared to the same time period in 2011. Since I didn’t from AA at all during that time in 2011, that requirement is an easy one for me. 3x miles for all flights taken is pretty great by itself, but that is just a part of the story. I was originally going to say that until March 31st, American Airlines also has a public promotion that awards double elite qualifying miles and double redeemable miles for residents of TX, CA, and IL on round-trip flights from Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles, Orange County* or San Francisco or between Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles or San Francisco, but just as I went to add the link it to that promo tonight, I saw that it is now extended though June 30th!
The reason any of this matters to me is that because of the OWMD, I already have 17,500 elite qualifying miles on American Airlines for 2012. I need just 7,500 more elite qualifying miles to qualify for their lowest elite tier, AAdvantage Gold. You can go here to see a listing of all of the benefits associated with that elite status. However, some of the stand-outs for me are:
- 25% mileage bonus on flights with American and some partners
- 500 mile minimum on all flights (this is a biggie for me since Houston to Dallas (a typical flight for me when flying AA since Dallas is a hub) is normally only around 224 miles, so this bumps that up to over double
- Complimentary access to preferred seats
- Priority boarding and check-in
- Same day stand-by for a different flight free of charge on flights in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean
- Two free checked bags
- Close-in fee waiver for award tickets
- Earn and/or purchase 500 mile upgrades
- Access to the elite phone desk
While those benefits aren’t as stellar as top-tier elite status, they are a dramatic improvement over what I have with no status. What makes this decision a bit trickier is that I am not by nature an American Airlines flyer since I live in Houston – a (new) United fortress. I already am on track to fly at least the 25,000 miles required on United this year to get low tier elite status, but if I am able to get status with American first, then I could request a status challenge to United in order to get access to the United elite benefits a bit sooner. United’s low tier elite benefits aren’t overly generous, but again, they are much better than what I have now.
A few of the highlights of being a low-tier elite (Premier Silver) with United are:
- Complimentary space-available upgrades
- Access to Economy + seating at check-in for me and one companion
- 500 mile minimums – again super useful for me on the Houston to Austin route
- Better “saver” award availability
- Reduced fees for award changes and redeposits
- Priority boarding and check-in (though I already get that with my MileagePlus credit card)
- One free checked bag (though I already get that with my MileagePlus credit card)
I am now traveling enough that these reduced or waived fees for many things would make a difference. I also would be more than happy to have a few opportunities to move up to domestic First Class. I know that low tier elites are at the bottom of the food chain there, but at least you are on the food chain.
So, because of all of those reasons, I am strongly considering heading to San Fransisco on American for the night in the near future. If I flew from Dallas – San Fransisco and back, the flight would likely cost me around $300, at current rates. The flight would get me about 2920 base redeemable and elite qualifying miles. However with the current double elite qualifying miles promo for that route, I would end up with 5,840 elite miles. That would leave me with just 1660 additional elite miles to earn until I reach Gold elite status. I would also earn 5,840 redeemable miles that would go toward future award flights.
That also stacks with the OneWorld MegaDO promo that awards 3x miles in my case. Although I think it says 200% of the base miles, so I am assuming I would not be “paid” again for base miles, so in effect it would be an additional 2x – though I would love to be wrong about that. Assuming that just results in an additional 2x, that would bring my total redeemable miles for that 2,920 mile flight to 11,680. That is almost half of a free domestic ticket just by flying one trip! Crazy.
I also have never been to San Fransisco, and would love to spend a night in that city (and pick up another qualifying night at a hotel). So, it wouldn’t be a true mileage run where I never left the airport, but it would certainly be a trip that was motivated by miles and elite benefits.
Am I crazy to do it, or crazy not to?