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!




Posted by glenn | One Comment

One response to “Time for a Mid-Year Check on Your Mileage Flight Plan”

  1. NB says:

    For me, the difference between Platinum and 1K is huge – double miles instead of 75% extra – that’s an extra 25000 miles next year if you will qualify for 1K next year. And the big one – 6 GPUs which have very considerable value.

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