The Anatomy of a Mileage Run

It may seem to many that those elite status ranks are almost an impossibility to reach. American airlines requires 25,000 elite qualifying miles (EQM) to reach the lowest rank, and 100,000 EQM to reach the top tier status. So, unless you travel for work, most people won’t ever achieve anywhere near the top tier status with standard travel plans.

This may leave the question in your mind of how do I plan on clearing 100,000 EQM this year. Mileage run, mileage run, mileage run, that is the name of the game. While I’m still getting my footing in this hobby, the more I pay attention to cheap fare, the more I realize that they are a dime a dozen. Great fares come up all the time and taking advantage of them is the key to hitting that status that begins to pay off in droves.

Mileage running is the practice of taking a flight for the purpose of earning either Elite Qualifying Miles (often referred to as status running) or redeemable miles (RDM). In order to make this really worthwhile, you have to take advantage of long distance flights at really great rates. Which brings me to my trip today. I’m on my first major milage run, out and back to Beijing, China with only one full day in Beijing. While many people would probably argue that a true milage run leaves no time at your destination, personally I enjoy travelling and would like a chance to see the places I stop at.

This trip alone cost just barely more than $500 out of Chicago, and the cost of connecting flights which tend to be fairly low priced. Taking advantage of the milage run out to Beijing gains me over 13,000 EQM for only $500. If you find the right flights and don’t mind adding in layovers, you can boost flights in excess of 20,000 miles per trip for under $700 when you find the best prices. Re-qualifying for top level status might only take 4-5 of these flights in the best case scenario.

Of course if you like to travel, you might want to change things up and see more of the US, or your surrounding area. Creative routings are your friend here, sometimes a weird route from Philadelphia to see a friend in Jacksonville is a great way to gain miles. Instead of taking a flight straight to Jacksonville, I can route Philadelphia to Boston to Miami to Jacksonville. Accounting for the minimum mileage guarantee, this can net you thousands of miles on what would be a short flight normally. Why not visit Miami from the east coast VIA Los Angeles. Spend some extra time making connections and you might just have some really amazing perks from a status you never thought you could achieve.

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know soon how my first major mileage run went.