MILEAGE RUN DISCUSSIONs - How To's and Help with the art of Mileage Runs

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by Lufthansa Flyer, Feb 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Please limit content in this thread to non-fare issues and items. Feel free to ask questions about the art of Mileage Runs, how to build them and how to determine if its a good deal!

    Please post actual fares and routes under each Airline's Alliance Sub Thread on this forum.
     
  2. jcmitchell21

    jcmitchell21 Silver Member

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    I don't fly enough right now to justify a mileage run, but what I'd like to know about is bump opportunities. Would this be a separate issue?
     
  3. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    It would be, but what about bumps are you curious about? How to position for them? get the most benefit from the airline? do you take miles, or voucher? Ask away!!
     
  4. MangoFlyer

    MangoFlyer Active Member

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    Just a thought, but perhaps one of the first posts could be from a MR expert that discusses what experts consider to be "good deals" / acceptable CPMs and how those thresholds vary by individual / goal. I would do so myself, but I'm a mileage-run virgin so to speak.
     
  5. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    The CPM conversation is really up to the flyer and what they find important. Generally, a GOOD MR for pure CPM measure would be 3.5 CPM or better. Sometimes higher CPM's are justified, it just depends on the purpose of gaining status. I've done MR's up to 5.5 cpm's because either of time constraints or deadlines to current status levels.

    One way to maximize a mileage run is be in an FF plan that gives minimum miles for segments. For example, in BD, where I keep my miles, I get 500 or 600 miles per segment, even though I may only fly 150 miles on a leg. A program like BD's Diamond club really lets you get the most cpm's per buck.

    At the end of the day there is no cut and dry rule to the cost effectiveness of an MR, it boils down to how much are you willing to spend in time and dollars for the benefits of the status that the travel will generate for you. When I started the MR hobby about 6 monts ago, I had the same questions, and got all these "right" answers, but at the end of the day, your experience will be different. As they say around here, YMMV. (your mileage may vary).

    Feel free to ask away. I'm happy to help as much as I can.
     
  6. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    Is there a glossary of acronyms? What is CPM? I don't know anything about Mileage Runs but am very curious about it.

    I guess my main question is, how does everyone find the time for it? Am I mistaken in thinking that one has to give up their whole day by taking non-direct flights?
     
  7. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    There's no set Glossary that I can think of, just ask as you go. I've been hooked for 6 months and have learned a great deal from the great people on boards like this and flyertalk.

    CPM= Cents per mile. $100 airfare / 1000 miles = .10 CPM (Bad deal! :) ). A good deal generally is 3.5 CPM or less but just depends on how desperate you are for the miles and what your after in terms of status.

    Last year to get gold, I needed to do mileage run from GRR to Nuremberg, Germany and return to get enough miles. I did this between friday and sunday of thanksgiving weekend. US air was running a sale so biz class was 1500 r/t, but I got 2x the miles because BMI's diamond club gives you twice the miles for flying biz class. So that MR set me up for unlimited lounge access in star alliance lounges this yr, plus the miles I built last year allowed for 4 free intl biz class tickets for me to use this year for trips with Mrs. 744.

    THEN with all this flying, you'll come across things like voluntary bumps, vouchers for mechanical delays/cancellations, etc which will reduce your cost of flying even further.

    One trick is to find a fare between cities, and then book as many as possible. For ex. up until recently, GRR-ORD-BWI-ORD-GRR (and usually another city between BWI and ORD) was priced at $150. I booked 5 of them over a couple of months since I was able to get 4 or 5 segments per trip, so it cost me $30-35 per segment. to get UA PE (my plan this yr) I need 60 segments. I can shoot for 120 segments at these kind of prices too!!

    If I can get fares like this, I can get 60 segments for $1800-2000 which makes sense to me because the UA Prem. Exec. level puts me in line for upgrades for my flying next yr and 3 or 4 upgrades next yr will make this yrs effort worth it. Then any other upgrades next yr are "profit"

    There is a time committment. hopefully you have flexibility with your career or spouse. I usually take one MR a month. I'll leave at 6a, fly GRR_ORD_SFO_RNO_DEN_ORD_GRR and be home around midnight. What really neat about the MR is you see different airports, cities, etc. A lot of Mile Runners will target certain airports because of restaurants, bars, etc. Many will travel to have lunch with a friend who'll meet them at an airport and fly home after lunch. I target airports where I can grab a good lunch, have a decent lounge to sit in if I have time, and do some plane spotting. SFO LAX SEA EWR IAD are decent airports if you want to catch int'l carriers. My objective is to get at least 60 segments and qualify for UA Premier Exec. 120 segments will move me even higher and better upgrade potential even for int'l travel. You can get elite status via miles, or segments flown. The beauty of the hobby is that you can do it however you want, based on your own tastes and preferences. There's really no right or wrong, just the value you see in it. Enjoy the addiction.
     
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  8. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    Wow thanks for the informative post. So you flew that entire trip for only $150? Thats pretty awesome. How do bumps come into play?
     
  9. eightblack
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    eightblack Silver Member

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    I dont think my wife would ever let me do a Mileage Run. And I question the sanity of people who would even contemplate doing one...[​IMG]
     
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  10. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Bumps come into play when traveling in a couple of ways. some mileage runners will intentionally book trips on flights that historically are always full (prime time (4-7p departing for ORD, EWR, IAD, etc). the logic here is that you book yourself a flight that is nearly full or is full. When you arrive at the gate, make yourself know to the Gate Agent (GA) that you are willing to take a VDB (voluntary de-board). If you are asked to VDB, the usually will offer you miles or a voucher, or a better seat on the next flight. 99 times out of a 100 its better to take the voucher (united for example usually awards at least $200 if not more depending on the desperation of the GA or the length of the flight). This way you fly on a later flight but now have "Cash" in pocket to apply to a future trip or MR. If you are planning on bumping yourself, make sure you are armed with back up flight info in case you need to help the GA with flight options (routing through different cities, etc). It may be inconvenient but if you plan for it, it can come in handy.
    I would not recommended taking miles if they offer that as VDB compensation. Usually the voucher (well, always) is worth far more than the miles. I've seen cases where people are offered 10000 miles for a bump. Thats barely 1/3rd of the miles needed for a domestic trip, where as if I get $200, it will cover a significant portion of a future trip, PLUS, earn me status miles. That brings another point to mind.

    Theres a difference between miles. Usually miles earned via GA giving you miles for a VDB, or miles earned with credit cards do not count towards status (though some Credit cards now have some EQM (elite qualifying miles) but not many). Usually only BIS (Butt in Seat) miles count towards status, so another reason to stay away from the free miles they offer for a bump. Take the voucher, its another trip on them later!!!

    Notice the acronyms filtering in? I think I defined each one though.
     
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  11. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    We all have our bad habits! I figure if I was a smoker, I'd burn away more $ that way that sitting on a plane every couple of weeks. Vices suck and Mile Running is one of them!! :)
     
  12. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    Last night I told my wife I was trying to learn about mileage runs and she rolled her eyes. She's on board with the mattress runs but I don't think she could handle another (new) obsession!
     
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  13. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    744, thanks again for all that info! I appreciate your use of the acronyms. Sometimes the hardest part about learning something new is all the terminology. I think you've given me a good base of information to build from. [​IMG]
     
  14. dagolfdoc

    dagolfdoc Active Member

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    Hey, thanks for the help - love the forum so far - found it through flyertalk. I'm 14k short of reaching another elite level on DL, I'm considering doing a MR in the next month - is there a "best" way to search for one? I have 3 cross-country flights in the next 6 weeks as well that I could tie into a mr, but thought I'd do one before to help reach status sooner. I fly out of ATL, and only on DL. My time is very flexible. I've tried searching on delta.com, but I'm sure I'm performing the search incorrectly and very inefficiently. If you have some suggestions on the easiest way to search for a MR, it would be greatly appreciated.
     
  15. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Do you use software like ITA? its search engine lets you see fares and all possible connections within a fare. Kayak.com is another, easier place to see whats available.
     
  16. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    I normally only MR for the sake of reaching the next elite status, and getting the benefits like upgrades/SWU/CR1, etc.

    Miles are only worth as much as you would ordinarily spend and instead use miles, so I find that pure mileage runs only for the sake of miles are not worth it from an economic point of view. For example, I would never buy a C class seat to DC for the family for a vacation. But since I would have paid $300 per Y seat for the family, 25,000 miles is now worth $300. If you calculate that, it means that each mile is actually only worth 1.2 cents. However, a mid-tier or above elite gets 100% RDM bonus, so you can double that and figure finding a 2.4 cpm MR deal becomes a wash when you redeem.

    Therefore, in my opinion, I would only do a pure mileage run if it was under 2.0 cpm. Last year's, SAVE300 deal was an example. I had already reached 1K, but took two MRs since the miles were essentially free.
     
  17. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    A friend of mine asked me the same question. I answered that I try to only do it on weekends and I also find MRs to be very relaxing, like a vacation. If you have top tier elite status, you'll probably be upgraded, you essentially get to chill in first class for the entire day while getting some sleep, reading a book, watching a movie, working on your laptop, or listening to music. You get all this, while also getting served meals and drinks.
     
  18. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    So it's really not all that different than a Mattress Run?

    Someone mentioned that a plus about Mileage Runs is that you get to see different cities/airports. How much "time off" in between stopovers is considered normal?
     
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  19. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    Personally, I haven't gotten into the hotel points thing, I only try to take advantage of promotions. Mattress running seems painful, since you have to move your stuff to different hotels. For me, a same day mileage run like the SFO-ORD-MIA-IAD-SFO, is a get some time to relax vacation.

    Stopovers are usually 30 minutes to 2 hours and can also be relaxing if you have lounge access. Otherwise, trying different airport restaurants is interesting to me, getting a flavor of food around the country.
     
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  20. edenri
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    edenri Silver Member

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    I'm yet to do my first run. I'm excited too, but also a bit nervous. I'm not sure what kind of times I need for connections. Also I'm not sure what would happen if I get bumped or miss a connection. What about the rest of my itinerary?
     
  21. travelingmore
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    travelingmore Gold Member

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    My view on mileage runs, when I was doing more of them in the past, was/is very simple: for factors like age, energy, cost, and capacity to figure out only the simplest trips, I did them all in one day, out and back, with little time on the ground in the airport. They were usually cross country (flying from LAX).

    I also ended up buying a lounge pass so that I had a nice(r) place to wait when in between or before flights. I got used to the pattern, and developed a nice kit of things to bring along to pass the time. Eventually having gotten higher status, I got upgraded on most flights - even nicer - but the first at least 10 flights were all coach. I looked at it as an adventure - "I'll try it, and then see if I want to do it again next year". I was chasing elite status, and I got there.

    Yes, I was drooping by the end of some flights, but they were fun in their own way too. I met a few other MRer's on the way. And no, I didn't continue doing it the next year - too hard to justify the time and mostly the funds. But it was a great run!
     
  22. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    I always try to get bumped on MRs and not just for the E-certs. If you are bumped on your first flight, then you can even schedule it for a better day in the near future. If you are bumped along the way, you often get booked into Y class, get more EQM, or you might convince the GA to give you a better routing. I'm very honest about my intentions, and some GAs are nice enough to oblige. If you miss a connection due to an aircraft delay, same thing happens. Also, if you need to stay overnight, airline will pay for your hotel.

    The only exception is when there is a weather delay, airline won't pay for hotel unless you are flying UA as 1K. But if there are weather problems, you can often use the weather waiver to reschedule your trip in advance and move it to better days or routing.
     
  23. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Usually you want to be home the same day. Once you start bringing in other expenses like hotels, etc, it drives your cpm higher. Some will combine an MR with a mini vacation. As I mentioned earlier, I took an MR to Nurnberg last thanksgiving, but spent a day in nurnberg and experienced their Christmas Market. So an MR turned into a 1 day layover vacation and cost me 95euro in a hotel and some food, but was well well well worth the experience.


    Having lounge access helps for MR's, that way you dont have to sit with the "sheeple" or "gate-lice" in the general terminal areas. But lounge access isnt possible unless you already have certain types of status or have paid for a lounge membership.

    The great irony I benefit from is that I am a BMI Diamond Club Gold (Star alliance) which means I can use any united lounge in the US even though I may be on an economy itinerary. A united elite (premier exec or 1k) typically cannot use the lounge unless on an international itinerary. Its kind of funny to me that I can be a member of another airlines program and have better lounge access than United's own frequent flyers who have the same status that I have
     
  24. Lufthansa Flyer
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    If missed connections happen due to airline fault they will rebook you and sometimes offer compensation (upgrade on next flight/voucher/miles etc). The airlines are usually very helpful in fixing itineraries that go bad when delays or cancellations occur.

    They key is to have plan A, B, C and D. Usually there is more than one way to get to the same place. It may require routing to other cities, but so be it. Before you start MR-ing, have an idea of what routes your airline flies. For example, if you were scheduled ORD-CLE-IAD, and CLE is snowed it, ask to be rerouted ORD-CLT-IAD, or what ever. If you are informed and know what your options are, the Gate Agents will appreciate it because you're helping make their job a bit easier because they would not be dealing with a blithering idiot at that point.
     
  25. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Another indirect benefit sometimes from all this flying is compensation you can receive for faulty equipment on board the craft. For example, if you are on a plane that has audio ability at your seat, and its not working, be ever so polite in letting the FA know about the problem. A nice FA will give you instructions on how to report the issue to their customer svc area and sometimes a cash voucher is provided for future travel. the key is not to be an ass, dont bring up things like a loose hinge on your armrest, or a tear on your seat or something trivial. That will get you laughed at back in the galley. Their have been jackasses that come on these boards all crabby about how they didnt get a voucher because their tiny little reading light burned out during flight. They thought they were due a freebie. That attitude got them no where.

    But if you bring to their attention a genuine mechanical issue, they'll show their gratitude. Last yr my audio wasnt working on a UA flight (I was in F). Told the FA, she gave me instructions on what to do, and a $200 voucher was awarded.

    Another instance. I remember YEARS ago I was flying coach as a poor college student to visit family in Slovakia. My tray table hinge was broken and the only way the tray would stop was when it landed in my lap. I was nice to Czech Air flight attendant and told her jokingly not to worry that I can just hold my tray when I eat dinner. A few minutes later I was sitting in a comfy biz class seat.
     

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