So... here's the setup: I'm going to be flying to Italy in September of this year. I live in Philadelphia, and I think I've committed to throwing my hat in with US for my first FF program, as I'll be here for the foreseeable future and my understanding is that miles accrued with US can be used to purchase tickets with other Star Alliance airlines. If any of this is incorrect or setting me on the wrong path already, please let me know. Anyhow, with the Buy Miles promotion going on now, and all the talk by more experienced USers about a probable upcoming DPQM promotion (which I don't really understand) I'd like to get some sense of what you all feel would be the most appropriate strategy to achieve my goals, as follows: Stop always flying the cheapest available fare and commit to an airline program Achieve at least silver (or equivalent) status with my chosen airline by year's end Find the best combination of cost effectiveness / comfort for my trip to Italy Take a flight (any flight) in a cabin other than coach for the first time in my life And there it is. I'm open to pretty much any and all suggestions on accrual, purchase, flights, strategy, etc., and I'm happy to clarify or expand on anything I've written if I haven't provided enough info. Oh, and due to some incredible decision making in college, applying for credit cards to accrue miles is not an option for the time being. Thank you in advance for your time and help!