In Part I of this post I went over the process I use and recommend for planning out an year of earning and maximizing Airline Miles. (The very same process can be applied for Hotel Points too). In that post I showed how I came upon my ‘gap’ – miles that I had to work for; those that were not in my planned travel or covered by my usual travel run rate. This is where the work is and requires creative efforts to get to your goals.

As I maintained before, it all depends on your goals – is your goal to earn enough miles by a certain date for a trip you are planning? Or is you goal to hit a certain Elite Level by the end of next year? Or something different altogether?

In this post I will give a few tips on how to bridge this gap.

  1. Read my previous posts on Maximizing Airline Miles and Airline Miles for free for earning redeemable miles (RDM). Also read Maximizing Status Miles (EQM) if Elite Status is your goal.
  2. If your goal is earning redeemable miles, Switch Over all your earning options to Miles. If you earn hotel points for hotel stays and other rewards for car rentals, switch them all over to the airline mile program you want to earn miles on. This does not help if your goal is Elite Status.
  3. Get a credit card. This seems a no brainier, but if you don’t have a credit card that earns you airline miles, get one. If you already have airline miles earning card, get another one. If you own a business, you can get a business card. If not, look into other cards, like American Express with Membership Rewards or Starwood points and see of they allow transfers to your airline miles program.
  4. Speaking of Transfers, look into all your hotel programs and if you have balance there, see if that can be transferred to your airline mile program. Some programs also allow friends to transfer miles/points to you. (Great way to check who your real friends are). You can always have your friend/family member transfer you miles now and you transfer them back later. Note – except between husband and wife, this almost always carries a fee.
  5. Buy miles. This is the last resort. If you are close to the date you want to use the miles and are still short, but the miles to cover the gap. Do your financial analysis to see if this is a good proposition.
  6. Take a trip. Easiest way to earn miles is to fly (duh!). A cheap trip may help you save much more on your big trip you want to redeem miles on. This earns you both RDM and EQM, so applies to both kinds of goals.
  7. Add a segment. This Too applies to both RDM and EQM goals. If you are already taking a trip, ass a short segment to it. This will add (typically) 500 miles to your trip, per segment added. If you can get a good deal, it is worth it. I have seen people add segments for as less as a $10 additional cost. What do I mean by this? Say you are flying from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles, instead of flying non-stop, go via Newark or Charlotte. You get the 500 extra miles for the segment and depending on your route get extra miles if t he new route is longer (EWR-LAX is a longer segment than IAD-LAX, for example). Note, this will only work if you do earn 500 miles minimum per segment. Some airline do not give this minimum if you are not already an Elite.
  8. Status Match. If you already have Elite Status on an airline and want it on another, airlines do give Status Matches. (This of course only applies if your goal is Elite Status). Call the airline and ask. Remember, this is usually a once in a lifetime action, so use wisely.
  9. Status Challenge. The other option is a status challenge. If you have a solid block of travel coming up, see if your airline will give you a status challenge. This is not common, but does happen. The way it works is the airline (or hotel) gives you a time block and a goal you need to hit that time block – miles flown or hotel nights stayed. If you hit the goal, they give you Elite Status for the rest of the year.

If you have any tips you would like to share or have thoughts on my tips, leave a comment below.

Here’s to a great 2012!

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Planning your Airline Miles for 2012 – Part II”

  1. Wise2u says:

    Happy New year to you too, it will be hard to beat 2011 as far as vacations, but it will be fun trying.

    I have no business travel, my wife does a little.
    I had no goals of status on any program in particular and collected miles/points across many programs. One of the overlooked goals in point collecting is actually using the awards.
    I am getting status in hotel programs now through challanges or promotions. IHG, Hilton, Marriott are easy platinums with a broad range of upgrades, I’m interested mainly in room upgrades and lounge access.
    This next year’s vacations will be a series of small long weekend stays and hotel points/certs will be nicer with status (hopefully).

    Even though wife and I have 150k each in UA/CO, DL, AA, BA next year will be all about Southwest. I am poised to get a companion pass good till Dec 2013. It takes 110k points to earn and lets companion fly free on both paid and award tickets.
    I also won 2 RT tickets in a online sweepstakes. I hope they will fly my companion on the pass as well, have to try it. We plan to explore the country a few long weekends at a time anywhere SW/airtran goes.
    Can’t wait to see what happens after the merger integrates them in Feb.
    I heard SW-RR has no real status to it? and airtran may lose first class?…as long as my airtran points transfer into the new program.

  2. unroadwarrior says:

    Wise2u, thanks for sharing. I am pretty sure that SW and Airtran will allow to combine points in some manner. Their programs are not very similar, but I am sure they will figure something out. I have always stayed away from SW because Elite status does not equate to much on them and they have no international alliances to mention. They are a great airline though for domestic travel. All the best to you in 2012!

  3. [...] qualification is something some of us have to fight for all year. As a (un)road warrior, this is an annual process for me – scrounge for every PQM to get to (for me) 50,000 PQM in a year for qualifying as a [...]

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