It’s that time of year to check your miles and see if you are on track to make your desired status goal. Every January I make what I call a “Flight Plan” to figure out about where I should end up by the end of the year. I put down all of the trips I expect to take and estimate the number of miles for each trip. The total then tells me the approximate status I should achieve on each airline that I am accumulating miles on. For me, I had planned to make 1 K on United (100,000 miles) and MVP Gold on Alaska (40,000 pure AS or 50,000 with partners).
Now that the year is half over, it is time to assess where I stand and if I can really make my goal or I should realistically shift to another target. Today I stand at 50,142 on United with a 1,745 mile LAX-ORD trip yet to post. On Alaska, I am worse off with 18,644 pure Alaska miles. On the surface, it would appear that I am about 50% to my goal and 50% done with the year, so I should be good. The issue is that I look at my flight plan for the remainder of the year and am only projecting that I will reach 76,652 on United and 32,878 on Alaska. Hmm, so what to do?
First on UA, getting 24,000 miles is possible, but that is likely 2+ mileage runs. If I could do these mileage runs at 4 CPM, that would mean about a $960 expenditure. So I can settle for Platinum and not spend any more money or go for 1K if I am willing to pay $960. Let’s compare the benefits: Platinum gets me 2 Regional Premier Upgrades (RPU) and complimentary upgrades on most flights after GS and 1Ks. 1K gets me a total of four RPUs and six Global Premier Upgrades (GPU); additionally I get complimentary upgrades only behind GS’. I have to admit, that I mainly do all of this for the upgrades, so yeah I probably will look for good mileage runs and hope for an unexpected work trip to make 1K again.
For Alaska, the decision is a little easier. Only being about 7,000 miles short, I should have only a single mileage run to make. Although I get less benefits, I get one very important one – free tickets changes. This allows me to grab good fares and change without penalty if something comes up or I find something better. They are the only airline with this benefit and as you all probably know, the other major airlines have increased thier change fees to $200.
I know this post doesn’t reveal a lot of secrets, but I think the process will make you a more efficient frequent flyer. Look at your own plan and make one if you do not have one yet. This will be a much better process than winging it. You will find it is very hard to get a good mileage run in the last six weeks of the year. One tip that I can offer is that if you get stuck in this high cost period and need miles, look at the week right after Thanksgiving. This is usually a brief lull period and you will get a better fare than weeks with a holiday in them. Good luck with your plans!