Reader Mail : “What the heck is a mileage run?”

28/1/2010 – Reader Mail : “What the heck is a mileage run?”

Sometimes I wish I received more reader mail with questions I could answer on Flying With Fish, rather than very specific questions better answered in an e-mail response. Yesterday evening glancing at my BlackBerry I read this simple e-mail headline “What the heck is a mileage run?”

The headline of the e-mail summed up the entire question…no need to even read the rest of the email.  So in response to Josh from, Sweetwater Florida, this is what the heck a mileage run is…

…simply put, a mileage run is a flight, or series of flights, taken for the purpose to increasing a travelers frequent flyer miles. Often a mileage run is to maximize elite qualifying miles to maintain a status level or achieve an airline’s frequent flyer program elite status level.

When creating a mileage run most flyers choose the maximum amount of miles for the lowest cost per-mile.

An example of this would be a United Airlines frequent flyer with 1K status, which is achieved at 100,000 qualifying miles, earning 95,000 miles at the end of the year. To not lose 1K status a frequent flyer seeking to maintain their status would fly 5,000 miles to maintain their 1K status rather than dropping down to United’s Premier Executive (1P) status, which is earned at 50,000 miles.

The drop in status may not seem significant to those who are not frequent flyers, but to those who fly often enough, status is important for gaining lounge access, skipping check in lines, accessing preferred seats and in being at the head of the line for upgrades.

Personally, I have not flown pure mileage runs, I have however flown some very unusual routes to increase my miles, such as flying from San Francisco to Los Angeles via New York for an extra 5,061 miles.

So Josh…hopefully that answers “What the heck is a mileage run” is.

Happy Flying!



  1. I live in northern Oakland County where it is 85 miles to Detroit Metro Airport or 35 miles to Flint Bishop Airport. I have business in Montreal 4 to 8 times a year. If I fly out of DTW to YUL it’s 1800.00USD. FNT to YUL via DTW (same 1800.00USD flight) then costs 800.00USD. I get 2 extra segments per trip, 1000 miles (Thanks Delta) and 1000.00USD cheaper ticket. FNT is a smaller better airport that’s closer to home for a plane ride that will spend more taxing around DTW runways than in the air. Pure Mileage Run! And it those extra segments that keep me in Silver which helps on the longer flights. BTW, I am glad everything has worked out OK with the TSA.

  2. Years ago a bunch of us were flying frequently to LAX from PBI. Delta’s frequent flyer program at the time allowed us to fly through Orlando on a First Class Upgrade using miles. The miles collected on that routing gave us a profit over the miles required to get the upgrade – they in essence paid us to upgrade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *