Share your mileage running strategies!

Discussion in 'Mileage Runs/Travel Hacking' started by clscholes, Oct 24, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    As someone who has not ever done a pure MR, I am curious to how you "schedule" MR's, what your budget is for them (personal funds, around business), and how far in advance you plan them. Shoot!
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Buy when the fare is right. Everything else is wishful thinking.

    You cannot really plan for "I'm going to do a MR on day X and buy it now" because the odds of the fares being conducive to that are quite slim. I do have an idea of about how many miles I want to fly and what I'm willing to pay for them and buy when the price is right, but otherwise it is very much a waiting game - not a planning game - IMO.
     
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  3. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    So do you go into a year figuring (roughly) that you will need X amount of miles to keep whatever status you have, and then just grab fares when you discover them or see a good opportunity?
     
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  4. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    I take the point @sbm12 makes but I disagree that it's not a "planning game." It's true we - the pax - can't control which fares are posted, and when, but there are overall goals that can be considered in the medium-term timeframe i.e. through EOS - this is always 331 or 353 days ahead, or whatever but approximately 1 year, depending on your airline, OTA and so on.

    For me the first thing to do, every year, is front up. I make a concerted effort to stack up PQM/EQM in early January instead of at the end of Dec when only BWI-EWR on the E145 is available for $3500 one way.....

    No indeed. Think WELL ahead. Book in Feb for next Jan and Suck it up for CCS, or in this year's case, STT - a ticket I bought back in February when this deal appeared on the MR forum or I found it., I can't remember which. Helpfully, it's been through numerous sched changes resulting in a. more mileage flown b. better connections and c. upfaring to a class only slightly below auto-UG for 1ks. This is not precisely an MR in that I do have business to transact but I'm making sure it counts. Oh yes and LIM - I want 20k PQM by the second week of Jan, a strategy that allows me to sit and wait it out for the rest of the year

    I struggle to understand those who don't consider this, but who apparently want status and decide in week 2 of Dec they need serious numbers of PQM/EQM/MQM.

    I post about this phenomenon most years... from 2012...

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/mile...tus-nrt-buckle-up-you-should-take-do-now.html

    That one was even quoted here on MP...

    http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/teh-penalty-box-part-1.344/page-2250

    The message never changes.

    Far the quest for status is.
    Buckle up for NRT and take it.
    You should.
    Do it now.
    Like, NOW :D
     
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  5. wto605

    wto605 Member

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    My first MR is in a few weeks so I have the downside of less experience, but the upside of having recently gone through the thought process you are.

    As those before me have stated you can have a goal for your MRs, this is helpful if you envy the next tier of status or are the type that will make the most out of 36~72 hours in a foreign country. In this case you just watch out for deals as take what you can make work, for some this is a tcon every month, for others it's a tatl or two. Some people just use MRs to round out either a status or earning another upgrade instrument if they are close to the next tier, since the travel season falls off after summer there's plenty of opportunity to make up foretasted gaps. The final group are those who are just always on the lookout for ways to pad their *QM, either by a little extra fat in the routing for a small fare (but big time) difference or buy a cheap fare to go somewhere they would actually like to visit/see/etc. depending on how much time you're willing to invest watching for these deals and flying out of your way you can use this method to bring you up a tier easily.

    I've kind of been in the latter category, although I wasn't really spending much more money to get the extra miles I would definitely throw in the extra miles if I was connecting anyway and it didn't kill my timing. In late June I realized a 4k MR and foregoing an AS direct to fly UA (for only ~$40 more) would push me over the edge to PP (June may seem a bit early for that detailed of a forecast, but I can be pretty precise since I only travel personally) so I started to look. I just used The Flight Deal (I can't post links yet, just Google stuff) to watch for something that fit. Keep in mind the origin airport doesn't need to be exact, for example my MR was prompted by a PHX-[LAX-]IAH-ELP-IAH-PHX posting, but since IAH-ELP-IAH was the good part and I knew I had frequent reasonably-priced direct service to IAH I was able to book at just under 5 cents per mile (not a grate rate in the domestic bracket, but since it was a same-day turn under 24 hours I was happy).

    Forecast as precisely as you can and compare your lower and upper bounds when it comes to estimates. A friend who's a consultant ran the numbers (at my suggestion insistence) last month and found that depending which project he was staffed on (of two he knew he could be) he could be close to UA 1K or 15k away... he threw in enough extra miles when booking his holiday flights that he would make it in case he got staffed on the further project. In United's case he could cut out some of those longer routings using free same day changes, but he ended up on the longer project anyway and now he doesn't have to worry about picking up a couple thousand extra miles. I would say now is about the latest you should run those numbers, and that's assuming you don't plan on needing more than 5k or can take a couple days off during the week. We're still far enough out you can catch something before Thanksgiving, or at the very least between then and Christmas.

    Things to think about going in 1) if there's a trip you'd like to take, consider just taking that... you may pay more but you get more out of it. 2) Know when you're willing to go, I knew my vacation was done, so weekends it was. 3) Keep other costs in mind, I passed on an overnight MR to IAD because I knew I would want a hotel (which I don't usually stay at so I couldn't consider it a mattress run) and that adding parking+food brought the total trip cost to ~9 cents/mile.

    Happy Hunting!
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Sortof. My travel is all leisure so "need" is a relative term. Still, I know about where I want to be and about what my travel budget for the year is. If something comes up at a decent CPM rate in my neighborhood I book a couple. Sometimes I book too many (this year was a good example - I will be far over my desired earning level and will end up throwing away some tix, breaking the cpm numbers) but I generally am reasonably accurate in my planning. Sortof.
     
  7. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Aims are always good. 1K requal is the annual target.

    And speaking of overshoot and CPM-target exceedance, I am just about to deposit a CC refund check today - from two of my NH RGN tix that I didn't use. It did take the OTA almost four months to actually refund these to the CC - I canceled these in mid-June, prior to scheduled departure. But it's no big deal since they were the sub-70 USD kind.
     
  8. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    Since I am not a "frequent flyer" (2-3 domestic, 1 international a year), I am thinking simply keeping lower tier status by flying smart (AA Gold, UA Silver) might be attainable. Had I thought it through this year, even without the elite status challenge with AA, I would have been Gold and probably Platinum if I had stuck with one airline. Instead, I will be Gold, and am tempted to do one RT to the West Coast from MCI to be Platinum instead.
     
  9. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    I would say UA Silver, but the benefits seem minuscule and the required spend I might not hit.
     
  10. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    At that level - bottom tier stretching to 2nd - I'd look VERY closely at the cost/benefit ratio of doing a run to get the status. I think that there are a lot of scenarios where it probably isn't worthwhile. At 4 trips annually you are likely to be better off paying the lowest fare each time and then either using co-branded CCs or just buying the extras you want for the individual flights. Say you spend $300 extra to do the MR and get that status. You could also probably spend $100 on each of the 3 trips and get the extra leg room seats outright or the checked bags. And by purchasing each trip as the cheapest or most convenient rather than being loyal to a brand for the "free" benefits you might save a few bucks on the airfare or a few hours of travel time, too, furthering the value of being loyal to yourself rather than to an airline.

    Chasing status just to have status is rarely the best approach to the game. Take a close look at what the costs and benefits are and do the math for your specific situation. You're probably different than everyone else here and that's important to remember. What I do for my MRs would probably drive you bonkers and also not be a smart use of your time and money. Actually, it probably isn't for me, either. :oops:
     
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  12. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    That's great advice...I will definitely look at it that way. The only issue I have is that flying out of MCI I usually would have to kick out around 200 a trip to "upgrade", and if I am at 23,000 it might be worth it just to have that option a bit easier...but definitely not worth chasing a bunch.
     
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  13. Wbjudge

    Wbjudge Active Member

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    I don't know what airline you fly out of MCI but I fly delta and have found that MCI to SNA is a great MR if you go thru ATL. 5224 miles for about $250. I would assume other airlines match that price but might not match the miles unless you can find the " long way around" routing. Also I am able to do it in a single day, no overnight or red eye. Leave at 6 am and back home before midnight.
     
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  14. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    Awesome!
     
  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It is unlikely that the MCI-SNA opportunity will be nearly as lucrative on UA or AA, the two airlines clscholes is looking to earn status on, mostly because I'm betting the routing options will be via ORD, IAH, DEN, SFO or DFW, not the fun backtracking of ATL that Delta makes available.
     
  16. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

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    @Wandering Aramean is the sanity to my impulsive nature...;) Although I did find out that I will be taking two trips from MCI-ADD in this next year, without including our family's normal domestic U.S. trips which I think will put me veeeeery close to 50K for the year.
     
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  17. wto605

    wto605 Member

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    If you can always buy your flights on your credit card, then don't bother with UA Silver... there are very few differences between that and the Mileage Plus Explorer Card ($60~75 fee IIRC).

    Also, if all you're aiming for is lower-tier status consider alliance partners which can sometimes get you to status with fewer miles. You lose some of the benefits (like free premium seats, upgrades, and lower award fees) that you would get with your native airline (granted on the low end upgrades won't happen, and the fee discount is minuscule), but you keep things like extra baggage allowance, better IRROP/waitlist priority. On the plus side (at least in terms of *A) you get free lounge access even on domestic flights (which UA/US never give you if it's through their programs).

    A specific example of this is A3, who have a ridiculously long qualifying period (with some minimum splits) for ridiculously few miles (I think it's 20k to Star Gold) which gets you a free bag, priority security/boarding, and lounge access when flying US/UA (regardless of who you are crediting too).

    If you play this game pay attention to fare codes, partner fares have different earning rates (including some that earn no *QM)... so in this example if you fly so infrequently you keep the partner as your only program no problem, but if you split to UA (either to earn status there too, or just to bank the RDM) pay attention to your booking class.
     
  18. PaulaW

    PaulaW New Member

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    we did our first MR last year... we miscalculated miles with future travels and we found out in November we needed around 4000 miles to keep platinum on AA... we found out 3 places on sale... we choose one and the next week we flew to Madrid for a week! AWESOME experience... Thinking about doing the same this year (with no place in mind!)
     
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  19. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Silver Member

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    We are in a slightly different situation, as my wife travels extensively on business, and I just tag along. This year, she was going to be short of maintaining her 1K on UAL, so I looked at calendar, found a free weekend, and booked the lowest fares RT PHX to ORD. We'll have a good meal in Chicago, then turn around - 2880 PQM's, and she's got her 1K. In our case, days for discretionary travel are often very limited, so we cannot do more traditional MR's, as others can, but so long as they get us what we need, plus maybe a show in NYC, or dinner in Chicago, we have not lost all that much.
     
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