Recently I spent a weekend flying half way around the world … spending just under 20 hours visiting Istanbul, Turkey, netted enough air time to re-qualify for Delta Diamond Medallion status, and due to bonuses, I ended up with just over 35,000 miles that I can use to redeem for free flights. All this craziness is called a Mileage Run (a trip designed and taken solely to gain maximum frequent-flyer miles, points, or status).
But was it worth it? 27+ hours in the air, sleeping on a plane, only three hours sleep in a bed … but the opportunity to see a new city, accumulate a mass of miles, and, most importantly, keep my top-tier elite status with Delta Airlines. With the elite status, I get complimentary first class upgrades on most all of my flights, free access to the lounges, bonus miles for every flight, and a dedicated line of customer service specialists that can bend the rules for me.
That said, I was away from my family for a weekend visiting a place that my wife, Sara, and I would like to go to together… but instead I did it on my own and barely saw it. Again, was it worth it? Well, I think so.
I did it for the extra miles that I can then use to redeem for business or first class travel with my wife. That’s how we both win.
My out of pocket cost was $665 (oh, and while on my way home later that week from a business trip my flight was oversold. I volunteered to give up my seat and was compensated $600 for the inconvenience. I returned home later that day with my travel wallet a little heavier.)
I think it was so worth it that this weekend, I’m flying from New York to Maui and back in 32 hours. With just 90 minutes in Maui I won’t be leaving the airport and, in fact, I’ll actually be taking the same plane back to the mainland from Maui that will be getting me there! This trip will be on American Airlines and when complete will get me to their top tier, Executive Platinum, where I’ll see similar benefits that I get with Delta. Total cost was $330 (I had a $200 travel voucher dropping the initial $530 price)… oh, and all of my flights are in First Class (due to complimentary upgrades) so I’ll get free meals and free drinks too.
For me, the journey is part of the experience. I love to travel, but how I get there isn’t just about comfort for me. It’s about flying in new / different planes. Trying out different seats, experiencing different airlines and airports, it’s all part of the experience. But, I realize this isn’t for everyone. My wife couldn’t care less about any of this – as long as she gets there safely, comfortably, and on-time she’s happy.
If all of this isn’t for you (like my wife, Sara) , there are still plenty of great ways to earn massive amounts of frequent flier miles… and in fact it’s a heck of a lot easier.
While Sara isn’t willing to do crazy things like fly around the world just for miles, she is willing to use her excess good credit to rack up frequent flier miles through lucrative credit card signup bonuses. I have my contribution to our travel bank and she has hers (conveniently I also partake in this). Heck, we scooped up over $4,500 in free travel, and our credit scores only took an 11 point dip in total. I call that a big win. Rick did something similar in September, as did his wife Katy. We’re not crazy, we just like to travel the world for pennies on the dollar.