How to know if a Mileage Run is worth it?

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by syphlix, Feb 20, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. syphlix
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    syphlix Silver Member

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    Hi,

    Complete noob here... so i hope this is the right forum!

    Can you help me understand when a mileage run is worth it?

    For example, recently i saw the low fares for $150 RT from NYC to copenhagen...

    If you took that, isn't it like paying $150 for about 8000 miles? is that really worth it? esp when your time is factored in as well?

    What am i missing?
     
  2. heffa
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    heffa Silver Member

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    Wooow... That's a fantastic price. Was it SK? Is it still open?
     
  3. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    Mostly, what we call mileage runs are really status runs. Getting redeemable miles is nice, but we are after airline status. Sometimes, there are bonuses for redeemable miles occasionally that make for mileage runs, but there aren't a lot of these.

    For status, everybody will have a cost/mile that they use to decide whether to do it or not. For me, it's 5 cents per mile, but others will have something else. For 8,000 miles I would look at it for any cost under $400, but that would be the total cost including everything. $150 is well under that, and worth doing in my opinion, if it includes all costs.
     
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  4. lv2trvl
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    lv2trvl Silver Member

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    It was on Delta and happened a few days ago. They forgot to include the fuel surcharge for their U.S. - Europe flights through April. That "sale" lasted for a few hours before they fixed the mistake.
     
  5. lv2trvl
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    lv2trvl Silver Member

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    Like gemac said, I think most people people book mileage runs to reach or maintain a certain elite status level.

    For example, if you need 50,000 flown miles in a given year to reach or maintain mid-tier status, booking six of the trips you described might be considered a good way of reaching that goal. The benefits that come with elite status have some value, so that should be figured into the equation. Some of that valuation might be subjective (value of priority check-in, boarding, and seating) while the value of other benefits like double redeemable miles might be easier to quantify if you know your future travel pattern. In the example you gave, someone who already has mid-tier status and earns double redeemable miles would earn about 16,000 redeemable miles for $150.- in addition to making progress to elite (re)qualification. Personally, I'd have jumped on this fare if it had been on United or a partner carrier. My threshold for mileage runs is somewhere around 4-5 cents per elite qualifying mile.
     
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  6. syphlix
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    syphlix Silver Member

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    ah ok thanks... i understand more now...

    i guess mileage runs wouldn't be off too much use to me since i actually fly at most < 5 times/year...
     
  7. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    how to know if a mileage run is worth it?

    Simple answer: if my friends and family think it's crazy.
     
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  8. TheMadBrewer
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    TheMadBrewer Silver Member

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    I don't do "pure" mileage runs, where you basically turn around and come home. Partly because I am getting old, partly because I like to visit places, especially new ones and partly because I feel a little guilty if I do. The last comes from the last time I did a pure mileage run (this was on NW) LAX-MSP-IND-MEM-LAX. I got upgraded on all four legs and was enjoying my day, sitting in FC away from cell phone, email, etc. drinking my adult beverages. On the last leg my seatmate was so excited it was fun to watch. He was a newly minted Silver and this was his first upgrade. Like the proverbial kid on Christmas morning. Then he got a sad look and said "It's too bad my friend couldn't get upgraded too -- he would love this but he is sitting in the back. Maybe on the way home."

    Well of course if I hadn't be galavanting around going nowhere, his friend would have been upgraded too. I felt bad (but not so bad that I offered to switch places :) )

    So now if I see great fare I find something to do -- meet a friend for a ball game, go to concert, go pub crawling, etc. etc. I'm still taking up that seat (if I get upgraded) but at least I'm doing something. It would get me thrown out of the Mileage Run Guild (if it existed -- or maybe it does and they don't invite me to join because of this : ) But I have a good time.

    A few years ago my cutoff was 5 cents per status mile. That is still my limit for domestic flights, but if I find a good deal over the water somewhere I'll go as high as 5.5 or 6 if it is an interesting place I'd like to see. For me the redeemable miles are just gravy -- I almost never redeem miles on myself -- partly because they are SkyMiles (or SkyPesos as we sometimes call them) and partly because I always seem to need the status miles. It makes me popular with the relatives, though. I place a nominal value of 1 cent/mile for these, if nothing else you can exchange them for gift cards at very close to that rate.
     
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  9. I love traveling. I hate flying. So mileage runs are a last resort for me. In years where I used to make a mid tier with segments, I'd do the occasional segment run if I could get them for $30 each. Those are easy because the flights are so short and you spend most of the trip in an airport lounge. I remember being able to do IND-DTW-MSP-ORD on NW, for example.
     
  10. wanderwoman
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    wanderwoman Silver Member

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    It's like marriage; you know in your heart when you found the right one. Everyone has different tastes, and while it may be right for you, you can bet that it isn't someone else's definition of a perfect mileage run. There may be the pure definition using the cents per mile calculation but if it feels right, call it a weekend trip and do it!
     
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  11. Geo
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    Geo Gold Member

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    Maybe, maybe not. If you do 5 TATL trips a year you may fall just short of Platinum and a mileage run would be worthwhile. If your 5 trips amount to only 5000 miles, it probably isn't worthwhile. Given that you can collect a bunch of points on credit cards and stuff, having status with an airline does help you get better award ticket availability.

    An MR can be quite worthwhile on simply the points. Sometimes airlines have special double point offerings *and* cheap economy sales atthe same time. I remember flying Houston to Hong Kong one weekend a few years ago. The ticket cost me $650... but I managed to get nearly 80,000 miles out of the trip. This paid for my wife to fly to Canada 3 times on relatively short notice. Short notice flights to Canada were around $2k a pop at that time, so worth it? Absolutely!

    As for award travel, we have a set threshold of $300 for trips of three or more hours. Fares above that threshold, we use miles, below it use points. Your threshold may be different.
     
  12. eightblack
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    eightblack Silver Member

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    You know its worth it if it gets you the status you need. Period. If your family dont like it or dont get it, time to get another family. Much easier to do that than join another program...[​IMG]
     
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  13. syphlix
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    syphlix Silver Member

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    lol

    how do you get 80k from one trip? isn't it something like 17k round trip, so w dbl miles it's 35k?
     
  14. Geo
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    Geo Gold Member

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    There was regular miles, bonus, elite bonus, credit card, credit card bonus, double miles, hotel, hotel bonus, hotel promo and some other misc 5k add-on. Plus, since it was a necessary Dec. MR, it Plat'd me for the next year. The only thing I wish I'd done was to take advantage of the really small increase in fare to BF, but I was too cheap.

    I've heard of things like this since but I've never seen another opportunity like this one was. My current AU trips net me around 60k now.
     
  15. syphlix
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    syphlix Silver Member

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    haha wow... that's awesome... double dip to the nth power
     
  16. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    All things being equal it comes down to cpm (cents per mile), 4-5 is pretty good for domestic, usually it costs a little more to go overseas, but international trips are a good way to earn a lot of miles in fewer trips. I guess this is a matter of preference.

    Next it comes down to need, while many would argue that there is no such thing as too many miles (and that's true to a certain extent) if you are at 49,380 miles and trying to make Premier Executive, you don't need to fly around the world to do it.

    Finally it comes down to bonuses. First of all, can something be gained by picking a certain destination over another? Say you live in a cold climate. A run to somewhere warm might be appealing. Maybe there is a friend in a particular city that you'd like to see. Then there are bonus miles, which can be offered on new routes or for completing a certain amount of travel within a certain time period. While these are seldom elite qualifying, they can add up quick towards that free trip sometime in the future.

    I highly suggest stalking your favorite airlines on facebook and twitter and regularly checking in at sites like milepoint to get the latest news on good deals. There are a lot of great tips and links to tools that people have posted on this site, so go exploring. Everyone has their favorites and mine is itasoftware.com. I can't even begin to tell you how much time that has saved me while researching and booking trips. Good luck!
     

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