Are mileage runs dead?
Over the past few years I have utilized mileage runs in order to maintain my status on American Airlines.
A mileage run is taking a trip for the sole purpose of earning mileage or elite status in a frequent traveler program.
This has been a way for many miles and point enthusiasts in order to maintain status. For me, having status on an airline makes travel much more comfortable and less stressful as airlines generally waive fees for seat assignments, checked bags and even gives free food and drinks while flying in economy. In addition, status allows opportunities to be upgraded to a premium cabin which further enhances the travel experience.
Earlier in the year, I had two or three such trips.
One of them was two trips to Seoul. I previously wrote about the experience in the Seoul Trip Report – Introduction
On that trip I had a complicated itinerary and I wrote about my experience on each flight.
That trip earned by approximately 40,000 elite qualifying miles and it allowed me to secure my Executive Platinum status on American for another year after it combined with my other travel this year totaling over 100,000 elite qualifying miles. Elite qualifying miles are often called “butt in seat” miles as you actually have to fly that many miles in order to qualify for elite status.
Not only did I earn 40,000 elite qualifying miles, I also earned over 80,000 redeemable miles which is almost enough to fly one way in a First Apartment on Eithad airlines A380 aircraft.
The airline frequent flier mileage programs have been changing over the past few years to more of a revenue type system. Both Delta and United currently only allow earning redeemable miles based on the price of your ticket and status. American Airlines held out this year and kept the traditional program. Now that the merger is complete, that is changing over the next year where American will switch to the revenue based redeemable miles program.
So under the new system, I would still earn the 40,000 elite qualifying miles to help with status; however, I would only earn between 4,000-8,000 miles. A significant decrease from what I earned this year.
In my opinion the points of miles and points is in order to enjoy premium cabin travel. The fact that mileage earning is significantly decreasing, it takes away one of the great benefits of doing a mileage run.
While I can continue to earn status by traveling on mileage runs, I will no longer have an easy way of earning enough miles to redeem for premium cabin travel. That makes the thought of spending so much time in an economy seat less desirable.
You can still earn miles via card spend and manufactured spending; however, over the past few years, it is getting harder and harder to manufactured spend as most stores are no longer allowing the purchase of gift cards using credit cards as well as the reduced options for liquidating the gift cards.
Some bloggers are still reporting the ability to do it; however, in the area where I live, there are only a couple stores that will sell gift cards with a credit card and they are about 20-25 miles away from me. In addition, most of the Walmart’s have cracked down on allowing gift cards to be added to blue bird or for the issuance of money orders. So my options are very limited.
What are your thoughts on this? Will you still do mileage runs? Or they dead?