Mileage Running from the middle...?

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by tahewett, Feb 15, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    Any advice for putting together MR's from the middle of the country? I just moved from DEN to BIL, and my choices out of here are limited. I can make it back to DEN easily enough, but from there? I'm guessing the best strategy will be to head for one coast, fly to the other, then back to the middle but I'd love to hear the group's thoughts.

    I'm not forecasting as much business travel this year as last, unfortunately, so I'm interested in maintaining at least the minimum status this year. When vacation travel picks up next year, those free checked bags will be key as we travel with a toddler...
     
  2. geoffco
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    geoffco Silver Member

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    BIL is probably a tough spot for MR's...

    If you're willing to make a weekend, or a few days of it, you can position to the west coast (LAX,SFO,PDX,SEA,etc) and then build a run from there.

    I may buy a DL ticket FNT-DTW-ATL-LAX, fly a UA ticket LAX-IAD-MCO-IAD-SFO-LAX, then DL home LAX-ATL-DTW-FNT. I can easily do 10k miles in a weekend (Friday-Sunday), domestically, at a reasonable cost, and maintain top status with UA/CO and DL.
     
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  3. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    I never thought about nesting one airline MR inside another... we do get DL service here, but I've no status with them so haven't looked at that. I do see that we have an Alaskan/Horizon flight to SEA that I could possibly make work for this...gonna really have to work the deals tho, as I don't see a MR happening from here for less than ~$0.1 CPM. Maybe that's just the cost of living up here in the Big Sky...
     
  4. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    If you go that route, I've heard that Alaska's FF plan is very permissive about granting credit from flights with other carriers. I don't know exactly who their partners are, but since you will likely only want to grab the occasional, lowest-cost flight to SEA or wherever, it might make more sense to try to consolidate all those random miles with Alaska than across multiple airlines like Southwest, Delta, and American.
     
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  5. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    Thanks, Scottrick. That's what I was thinking too - Alaska partners with something like a dozen other airlines, so even if I find better fares on DL out of here, I'm guessing I'll be crediting those to AS.
     
  6. mowogo
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    mowogo Gold Member

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    You can actually get some reasonable itineraries, especially to south Florida. Constructed properly, you can easily take a Florida flight through DEN and LAX. While the options are a little better for Alaska, you would have to deal with the status match/challenge, while staying with UA would let you avoid that step.
     
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  7. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    Thanks for the tip! I'll have to see if I can work one of those out...
     
  8. Chamonix
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    Chamonix Silver Member

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    Dude, I feel your pain. If you think BIL is the middle, try living near STL! Ah, the best part is, I live two hours drive from STL...or a one hour flight on a cessna, which is what I do now. Still, once in STL it takes another flight to get to a hub....so I'm two flights out just to get to a hub!

    I do love living in BFE except for the part about not living near a major airport. :mad: (and no, BFE isn't an airport code, lol!)
     
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  9. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    Geez, Chamonix, that's rough. I guess I won't complain (much [​IMG]).

    You just eat the costs of self-funded MR's? Or are you lucky enough to travel enough for work that you don't have to self-fund extra trips to maintain status?
     
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  10. Chamonix
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    Chamonix Silver Member

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    I usually plan at least one MR, but i get tired of all the little hops. I prefer to just get on the plane, settle in and sleep! If I lived near a hub (or even closer to a major airport) I would be EXP, not just PLT. :p

    It's ok to complain, I'm right there with you.
     
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  11. cvsara
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    cvsara Gold Member

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    BIL and around STL is tough for a MR, try doing it from PIA or MLI or BMI
    I'd love to try a few from PIA, (no cost to park your vehicle in the airport parking lot), but once that is done, where can you go? Suggestions gladly considered.
     
  12. hobo13
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    hobo13 Silver Member

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    What happens when irrops blows up your first leg? The second carrier doesn't have to do squat for you.

    I'll do this sort of thing, if I have to, on one carrier. But two? And do it regularly? You are a gambling man.
     
  13. geoffco
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    geoffco Silver Member

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    You're right, I am a gambling man... :)

    I have been in situations where things could have gone wrong. I always have mental back up plans. Knowing alternate flights is crucial. An expertflyer account on a pda is critical. It's always in the back of my mind as well that being DL Diamond/ CO Plat/ UA 1P will probably get me some compassion from an agent should I need it... not in a DYKWIA scenario, but it helps, especially if you're cordial and have the information to provide them, which can actually make it easier for them to process me.

    Perfect example... 2 weeks ago I had a DTW-IAH-SJC on CO with a 55min cxn in IAH. in SJC I had 2 hours before a SJC-ATL-DTW ticket on DL.

    Boarded the CO DTW-IAH for a seemingly on-time departure when the plane goes mechanical. Back to the gate, delay estimated at 1hr +, so connection is blown. I know UA/CO has no alternatives with availability to get me to SJC/SFO/OAK in time. Missing the DL flight is not an option, because I have another UA itinerary ex-DTW upon returning...

    Before the door reopens, I'm on the phone with CO and I know Delta has availability on the next two non-stops DTW-SFO and one with a connection someplace, SLC, IIRC.

    CO agent puts me on the next DL flight DTW-SFO. Made it to SJC (with plenty of time, including a stop at In-N-Out!).

    Best part... Double dipping... earning the miles on UA and DL.

    I've double dipped 4 times in 2011 due to bumps or irops from UA/CO to DL for 8k+ additonal eqm's.

    It's a game... and it can be fun and, at times, quite interesting!
     
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  14. gemac
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    gemac Silver Member

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    I'm out of STL also, and it is a lot tougher than being on a coast, for two reasons:
    1. You can't fly that far before you run out of land.
    2. It really isn't competitive at all. I've been hoping that with WN and DL increasing their presence in STL, fares might drop, but it hasn't happened yet (although we did get a very nice DEQM promo last year).

    I use FareCompare's FlyerTalk fares page as a starting point. In addition to STL, I check LAX, SFO, NYC, WAS, MIA, ORD, and DFW, as those markets seem more competitive (all except DFW, and AA tends to defend DFW tenaciously). Any time I am going to be in another city for any reason, I check fares from there to anywhere, and often squeeze in a run from there. For instance, we were in LAX in late February, and were able to squeeze in a trip to ZRH from there. It was less than a trip to ZRH from STL, and 3000 miles more. We find ourselves at LAX or SFO 4-6 times per year, and that results in 2-3 runs out of LAX to somewhere.

    The other strategy for mid-con flyers is to qualify on segments. A trip to anywhere (well, almost anywhere) involves at least 4 and often 6 segments.
     
  15. wombat18
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    wombat18 Silver Member

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  16. Billiken
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    Billiken Silver Member

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    Find a WN location to 'stage' your MRs from.
    For example, I sometimes fly to BWI to do transcons to SEA or PDX.
    Whenever possible, backtrack and fly over the same territory twice.
    Good luck.
     

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