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In a basic sense, a mileage run is when you fly a specific number of revenue routes to earn or maintain elite status with a particular airline.
It can require quite a few qualifying flights, but if you travel often for business, it can be quite manageable. For casual travelers like me, it’s nearly impossible to do organically. The only hope of obtaining status is through a mileage run is when it is paired with specific promotions.
For example, I was targeted for temporary Platinum Pro status with American Airlines. Why? I have no clue. I haven’t paid a revenue fare on AA in a long time. What does this mean for me? Well, I’m elite for 90 days. I can maintain this status if I take a certain number flights or earn a certain number of MQMs or TFBs or whatever the heck they are called. Truthfully, I don’t recall the specific terms. I knew from first glance that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the requirements. It will be nice to have some of the accompanying perks on a couple flights I already booked, but with my schedule, there simply isn’t enough time or money worth reaching for status.
Then, an another interesting offer hit my inbox. Only a couple days after AA granted me the status automatically, Southwest offered to status match me into A-List. All I had to do was send them a confirmation email with a screen shot of my elite status with another airline. Hey, I could do that! SW didn’t need to know it was only temporary. I supplied SW with the information required, which included a screen shot of my AA status. It took about eight business days, but lo and behold, I was now a SW A-List member for 90 days. To extend my A-List status for another year, all I had to do was book and fly six one-way revenue fares on SW. This promotion requires far fewer flights than normal for obtaining A-List status.
Now this actually doable for me. How exciting. I had always known I was elite, we all did. But now SW was going to allow me to have documented proof for the first time. I had a single, one-way flight booked at SW when I was approved for the promotion. Ok. This was simple. Because of SW’s no cancelation fee policy, I cancelled that ticket and rebooked it now that I am in the promotion window. Five left. I have a Detroit trip planned. We were going to drive, but I could get two fares checked off by flying instead and those are relatively cheap tickets. Three more to go. I don’t have 1.5 vacations planned currently. My trip to Atlantic City in April is already booked and non-refundable.
I guess a mileage run it is. I’m sure I can find some seriously cheap fares if I tried. Wait. What am I doing? What perks do I even get with A-List status? Let’s see, there’s something called Fly By Priority Lane Access. I don’t really need that since I have TSA PreCheck, not to brag. Next, we have a 25% earning bonus on qualified revenue flights. That’s fun, but I usually use points on SW, so it doesn’t help me much. I also have access to a dedicated A-List customer service line. It’s a seemingly very nice perk, but SW has told me to stop calling all their customer support numbers since I always start every call with “Do you know who I am?” There is also free same-day stand by. I hate standing, so that’s not appealing. The best feature here is the automatic priority boarding. EarlyBird Check-In costs at least $15 per person for each flight. The thing is, I really don’t need it. I’m usually traveling solo or only with the Fanwife. It’s rare that we have trouble finding two seats next to each other. It’s nice, sure, but wasted on me.
Napkin math has me spending around $300 to retain this elusive status. Spend $300 now on something that could possibly be marginally useful later? I’ll pass. I’m elite in my heart. That’s the only thing that matters.