Mileage runs solely to earn award tickets? Good idea or bad idea?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Almond, Mar 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. I do the majority of my flying from Newark to Manila. However, during certain times the prices on CO can be very high. For example, flying from EWR-MNL on CO currently costs almost $3k in August and Christmas time.

    During the low season, I can get tickets for less than $1200. EWR-IAH-(HNL)-GUM-MNL RT earns me 42,920 RDM. An award ticket to SE Asia is 65k miles.

    I know the most worthwhile way for me to earn the miles to redeem an award ticket is just to fly to Manila on a revenue ticket during the low season. However, my schedule doesn't always permit me to do so.

    This year, I started considering doing mileage runs strictly to earn miles to redeem award tickets during peak season.

    I find that good MR opporunities pop up quite often from PHL. With the gold elite bonus, I can find routings that would earn mileage at a rate of 1.5 cents.

    So if I wanted to earn 65k miles at 1.5c/RDM, it would cost me a total of $975. Meaning, I would spend $975 in MRs to redeem tickets worth $3k.

    So am I crazy to do this? To me, it makes perfect sense, but maybe I'm missing something?

    Here are my pros and cons so far:

    PROS:
    - Money saved in the long run
    - More chances of EUA
    - More VDB opporunities
    - I can use other *A carriers to MNL (w/ much lower change fees)
    - Higher EQM earnings

    CONS
    - A lot of days spent flying. 5-6 MRs required to earn 65k miles.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    The biggest problem with this plan is the availability, or otherwise, of award flights when fares are expensive. There is a risk that the miles you earn cannot be used on the dates you are looking at, resulting in you having to spend $ anyway.
     
    hulagrrl210 likes this.
  3. In my experience, I've been able to find reasonable availability but I'd have to use creative routings. When I booked an award trip last Christmas, this is what I came up with:

    EWR-CO-LHR-TK-IST-TK-PEK-OZ-PUS-OZ-MNL-SQ-SIN-SQ-LHR-CO-EWR
     
  4. jason8612
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    jason8612 Gold Member

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    I don't see anything too wrong with that as long as you are somewhat flexible and book the awards in advance.
    I do similar things, going to Krakow in the summer time is quite expensive, so I will usually book award tix (C) for the family vs buying a economy ticket then upgrading which can be real expensive. And some MR options out there can be quite affordable.
     
    Skyvillager likes this.
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If you're willing to take the hit on scheduling and flexibility for the award seats then it isn't a horrible idea. My award redemptions are pretty much all on seats I'd never pay the cash for. I've got a mini-RTW this summer in C that was WAY more cash than I'd pay but I got it at a reasonable rate considering the number of miles it cost. And even some short hops (Canada has a few surprisingly expensive destinations) are great uses of miles. I'm not doing the runs ONLY for those RDMs - I like the EQMs and just being out traveling, too - but the RDMs are part of the calculation for me.
     
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  6. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    How good is award availability when the cost is approaching 3K? This seems to be the crux of the question. Why waste your time if only to save $225 ($1200-$975)......
     
  7. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    For me this is not a CON, but then I really like to fly. I think a CON for me would be something like "amount of money spent on airport parking while mileage running"

    I don't think you're crazy at all. I've booked a lot of tickets with miles where I figured it would be cheaper to MR at say 2cpm (counting the double elite bonus), than pay for the ticket. I usually keep a fairly large balance in my mileage account, so running for a specific trip isn't always necessary. I typically trade miles in for destinations that always seem to be expensive like JAC (Jackson Hole, WY) that wouldn't earn me a lot of miles anyway.
     
    Almond likes this.
  8. Rob
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    Rob Gold Member

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    Don't forget that if you manage to mileagerun to top tier status, that'll turn your award tickets into freely refundable and changeable tickets which makes it easier to use your miles on award tickets.
     
    hulagrrl210 likes this.
  9. Oh, that's another thing. Doing the MRs will grant me Platinum status for the first time.
     
  10. Billiken
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    Billiken Silver Member

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    I do MRs to maintain CO plat (now UA 1K) status.
    The miles/award travel is, for me, a bonus.

    The con for me is the time taken to do the MRs.
     
  11. jason8612
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    jason8612 Gold Member

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    Some would say getting away from work (and family) is a plus [​IMG]

    Con for me is the time, but the EQM is nice. miles are a bonus
     
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  12. mikew99
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    mikew99 Silver Member

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    I think your idea (acquire miles at low cost and redeem them on high-value tickets) makes perfect sense.

    If you think about it, you could fly to MNL twice during the low season and earn enough miles to redeem for a third flight during the expensive Christmas season. You'll spend 20% less than you would for just 1 ticket during high season, and you'll earn higher UA/CO status and more upgrades! This is how I justify most of the flying I do.

    As mentioned, the biggest catch is availability. Fortunately, UA doesn't black out entire seasons like some airlines do, but seats can still be hard to come by. It sounds like you're willing to be flexible on the routing (i.e., you are willing take whatever award seats you can get during high season), so I say go for it!
     
  13. mail4me.jy
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    mail4me.jy Active Member

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    From a Miles/Point flier who is definitely a newbie, please advise me how, what tools you use as an experienced FFlyer, can put together such a multi-step flight plan?

    I am Based from BOS and need to put together runs using UA and CO

    Thank you Master of the flight searchers

     
  14. edenri
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    edenri Silver Member

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    Of course the status would be nice, but if you can't find the time you could keep an eye out for purchasing miles during a bonus or watching for a double eqm promo. For example on US you can buy bonus miles now for about 1.3cpm or so.
     
  15. I use the mileage runs forums on here and other sites to find good MR deals. I also use the flexible airfare search tool on farecompare.com. You can plug in your home airport and it will list all the best deals currently out there.

    When trying to build award itineraries, I use the reward search on CO.com and the ANA tool.
     
  16. Wow I just looked into that. That IS cheapppp!
     
  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    That's not a run, that's a redemption. Putting together something like that as a mileage run is quite unlikely to be economical.
     
  18. colpuck
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    colpuck Gold Member

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    The essance of a mileage run is that you pay well less for the miles then you redeem them for.
     
  19. Just for kicks, I priced out that exact itinerary for the same dates (in 2011 of course) and ITA came out with $8793! Not economical at all. Haha
     
  20. jumbo_cards

    jumbo_cards Silver Member

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    If you fly to Manila reguarly you can certainly afford to use the miles accured from those trips to pay for a reward ticket. I'm not sure why you would need to do another MR. This is especially true when you already have status in which you get bonous reward miles.

    If you say you are purely doing the MR for the reward ticket then I personally don't think it is worth it. MR for status is something that I sometimes agree. The opportunity cost for the MR is too much for just a reward ticket.
     
  21. Titans26

    Titans26 Silver Member

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    Good idea.
     

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