My “Hot Mess” Mileage Run

I’m not sure if I just did something really dumb, or if it will turn out to be a good decision. Either way, it’s going to be an great adventure and a wild ride.

If you are a regular reader, you know that’s how I roll.

This all has to do with airline status. Currently, I have none. So when I plan a trip, I simply focus on the miles I have in my Award Wallet account; I’m not calculating how many EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) or EQPs (Elite Qualifying Points) I will earn from my flights. And I’m fine with that. Personally I feel like it’s a little intimidating and off-putting when folks start talking about their high-level elite status and how they are paying cash for their next flight so that they can enjoy the awesome amenities and huge mileage bonuses that elite status confers (100% bonus miles on a regular, economy class ticket? Wow.)

I know that most ordinary travelers are in the same boat with me. (Or, if I’m not mixing transportation metaphors, on the same plane with me). Unless you travel a lot for business or you have a nice chunk of discretionary income, earning top status on an airline can be a pretty challenging (and expensive) proposition. So far it’s felt WAY out of my reach. So far I haven’t been able to imagine that I would ever fly enough to achieve status. So far I haven’t wanted to pay cash for tickets, because that is exactly what I’ve been trying to avoid through this hobby of points and miles 🙂

In other words, while airline status is highly covetable, it is not realistic for most people. Including me. So far.


Last week, American Airlines ran a blink-and-you-missed-it “Fast Track To Elite Status” promotion. (The promotion was originally not targeted and went viral; American pulled it after only a few hours). The terms were that you were only eligible to sign up if you currently held no status with American. Like me. The earning requirements were slashed to “sample sale” prices (so it was kind of like finding a pair of Jimmy Choos for $100!).

Through the promotion, you could earn elite status after flying only a few times:

  • Gold: with 6,000 miles flown (usually 25,000)
  • Platinum: with 12,000 miles flown (usually 50,000)
  • Executive Platinum: with 30,000 miles flown (usually 100,000)

The only catch was that you had to fly these miles between September 1 and December 31 of this year.

I happened to see this promotion while it was live, and registered in time (before American pulled the links). Since I already had a trip to the East Coast planned (but not booked or ticketed), it seemed like an ideal opportunity. To earn Platinum status, all I needed to do was book my already-planned travel on American, then throw in an extra trip before the end of the year. Easy.


Sure, if you do it the right way. But I think I just did it the wrong way. You all know how I am. I’m enthusiastic! I jump in with both feet! I’m always up for an adventure! So I quickly booked a flight from San Francisco to Hartford, Connecticut. It was a good deal, and I figured I could visit my friend Ginger. She lives near Providence, Rhode Island. I knew I could stay with her, so I didn’t have to worry about hotel costs. I would only be there for a day, but that was fine. We could do a lot of catching up in a day.

I was going on my first mileage run!

But. In my excitement, I didn’t really check how long the drive is between Hartford and Providence. It’s kind of long. Like maybe an hour and a half. And I forgot that Ginger has a cat. I’m super allergic to cats. Also, my flight gets in at 11 pm on Friday, and leaves at 7 am on Sunday. Which kind of messes with any hope I have of staying on California time. And I have the middle seat on every flight.

So yeah, I didn’t really think this one through.

But I’m going to do it anyway. I’ll get to see Ginger and her family, I’ll earn 5,714 EQMs (that is the first time in my life I have ever said anything like that!), and like I said before, it will be an adventure. A crazy, exhausting adventure. Kind of a hot mess. Because that’s how I roll.

Wish me luck.


  1. Good luck! I managed to sign up for this before it was taken down and just happen to have a few business trips in the works. I need to figure out how to streeeetch the miles so I can go mega platinum. If I have the time, how can i take the long way home? Tips?

  2. You can take AMTRAK from Hartford to Providence. This is the same train that travels between DC and Boston.

  3. Now you just have to figure out how to earn more points while getting those allergy shots!

  4. I love it!! And once you get status with them…. I believe you can request matching with other airlines. So you will be set for at least a year. I travel for work and love the airline status benefit, really makes such a difference during boarding. Last year I was 3K miles away from United Platinum, still scolding myself for not taking a last minute end of year trip but ah well. The other great thing if you are able to stay loyal to a single airline (most of the time) is if you ever hit that million mile mark, you get status for life. THAT is what I want!

  5. Points Pixie says:

    Peter – try using the ITA Matrix to see different routing options. Good luck with your challenge! I hope you make it.

    Jane – I was considering that. Turns out the Ginger might just come to Hartford 🙂

    LauraPDX – ha!

    Rebecca – Status for life sounds good!

  6. pinkisnice says:

    I tried to nab this deal but the links were dead. Such a tease. I’m glad that you managed it. You are our leader and deserve the score. I’m sure we will all benefit from your tales and experiences along the way!

  7. I just wanted to let you know there are tons of fun things to do in CT outside the Hartford area especially on the long Island Sound.

  8. Points Pixie says:

    Lesli – This is getting better all the time! My friend Ginger is now going to drive to CT to meet me (instead of me going to her catty house) so we will be mobile and ready for action! Let me know if you have any specific tips. Thanks!!

  9. SCORE!! Congratulations on snagging the promotion, flights, and fellowship with Ginger!!

  10. Points Pixie says:

    ElleX – Hi!!! I’ve missed you!! Thanks for the congrats 🙂

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