Part of the
addiction dedication to frequent flying is seeing those mileage counters roll over to zero on New Year’s Day and knowing you have to figure out a way to fly a bunch more flights so you can keep your status for the following year. OF course, ideally you would get your employer to pay for all the flights needed or have those miles already paart of a family vacation. However, that’s not always enough so you need to grab a bunch more to put you over the hump.
While some writers claim that the mileage run is dead, I am going to show you how to make one and get a great payout from it on Alaska. More and more flyers should be looking at this program now with AS buying Virgin America which greatly expands their long haul routes. AS’ Mileage Plan has really worked well for my wife and I ever since we moved to Anchorage in 2002 and discovered how great this program really is. It is so great that we have continued with it despite living in D.C. for the last four years. What makes it great? Well, great service from the people, like the pilot who came out on our pre-flight today to brief the First Class passengers on the flight plan and answer any questions. Always, always the great Flight Attendants. Valuable miles that are a great currency to use domestically, but especially internationally on Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Iceland Air and several others. Mileage earning is still based on distance flown, not price. Lastly, the huge number of times we are upgraded to First Class. My wife is a MVPGold75K and was upgraded 33 out of 36 flights in 2016. I am merely an MVPGold and was upgraded 19 out of 20 flights last year. Can’t match that experience on any other airline. I am a Million Miler on UA and don’t get any where near that much love.
One of the best times to rack up cheap mileage run flights is from right after New Year’s to right before Spring Break – so basically mid-Jan. to mid-Mar. By definition, you want as long a journey as possible. So I look for as far away a spot from D.C. as possible and then try to find interesting side trips to get there. ANC, any of the Hawaiian location, and Costa Rica are all great choices. Of course, if you are West Coast based, you have a ton of East Coast destinations even without adding in those Virgin routes. AS just keeps quietly expanding their offerings. It would appear way too small on this screen, so here is a link to AS’ latest route map.
We usually pick one of the Hawaiian islands to visit every year and my wife chose Oahu for 2017. With the end point settled, I started planning various stops or detours. Also, I examined flights to those points that had wacky routings that added up the miles flown. I’ll let you in on the main secret that makes mileage running viable with AS and that is the Companion Fare that come with their B of A credit card. For only $99 (+$22 in taxes) more than a regular coach flight, I can fly my wife with me while she collects EQM and RDM also. Other airlines with companion fares do not offer this so it makes mileage running very lucrative as I will illustrate below.
We broke up a week’s trip by making it two days in SAN, three days in HNL, and two days in SJC. Purists will argue that this is not a true mileage run since we actually leave the airport and enjoy the town we visit. OK, you win, but to me it is still a mileage run that we also turn into a vacation. Here is what we finally ended up with:
DCA-LAX-PDX-SAN (two days) – HNL (three days) – SJC (two days) – SEA-DCA
All for a fare of $859 including the companion fare cost. So that essentially mean that we paid half that or $430 each to fly 12,132 miles. That earns us that many EQMs each, but also much more RDM due to the bonuses for Gold and Gold 75K. While I get a 100% bonus for being a Gold (used to get that as a Gold on UA, but now only 50% from them) and the wife gets an incredible 125% bonus for being a 75K. She will also get a bonus 50,000 RDM once she re-qualifies for Gold75K, but let’s leave that part for later. Lets do a quick calculation of the RDM earned and the value of those miles. I will earn 24,264 RDM, so essentially a free ticket, and the wife will get 27,297 RDM meaning we get 51,561 RDM. Most bloggers value AS miles at 2 cents each. Doing the math, means that those miles are worth $1,031.22. Pretty good return on investment there! Get miles worth more than the flight cost and a good chunk of EQM to get to do it another year. Not to mention flying most of that in First Class. As I write this from Waikiki, my wife was upgraded on all four flights and myself on three so far. First Class is a great way to earn this investment…