Lately, I’ve started to consider the idea of “mileage running,” which is flying butt-in-seat on a plane for the sole purpose of earning elite qualifying miles. Each year, if you earn enough elite qualifying miles with an airline, you earn status. With each status level, you are entitled to an escalating array of perks. I currently have very low-level status with United, but since I am planning a lot of trips both this year and next, it would be nice to rise in the ranks.
In terms of mileage running, the longer the trip and the lower the price, the better. The destination doesn’t matter, because it’s all about the miles. Because I have two kids (and by that I mean not a lot of free time) and not-unlimited funds, if I am going to do a mileage run, it better be a good one. For me, that means a CPM (Cost Per Mile) of close to 3 cents.
Last night, I found an amazing “fat finger” fare on United. For $248 round-trip, I stood to gain almost 10,000 miles. Of course, the routing would seem insane to a normal person. And yes, you are reading this correctly if you noticed that I wouldn’t even have 24 hours in Edmonton. This is what’s known as a “same-day turn.”
This was an especially crazy itinerary considering that I live in the San Francisco area. However, I could not pass up this fare, so I quickly booked it, much to my fellow Flyertalkers delight (of course I posted my triumph immediately on Flyertalk). I knew that I had 24 hours to cancel without penalty, so I got to work.
First I texted Josh to let him know of the temporary insanity that had come over me. I didn’t even hear back from him, so I forged ahead, trying to figure out if I could snag a great fare from San Francisco to Kauai. I couldn’t miss work on Wednesday so all of my positioning flights would have to be late on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning so I wouldn’t miss my 9:30 pm departure time from Kauai. All of the fares I found out of SFO were sky high, so I searched up and down the coast, and finally found one that wasn’t too bad out of Seattle. I booked that one as well. Now I just had to figure out how to get to Seattle.
At some point I realized that maybe this was a little crazy, even for me. I do love a good madcap adventure, but this might be more than I bargained for. Not to mention that the cost was slowly creeping up, which negated the “amazing deal” factor. I hovered my finger over the “cancel” button on the United screen several times before I got up the nerve to press it. But I did. And I think it was the right choice.
I’m going to wade in slowly.