Reader Mail : What Is The Difference Between A Mileage Run & Segment Run

This week’s reader mail comes from someone just starting to navigate their way through airline frequent flyer programs.   Gerry from DFW asks “I have started to travel frequently for work which has lead me to start reading FlyerTalk. I see many references to mileage an segment runs, what is the difference?

Gerry … first off welcome to the wonderful world of frequent flyer programs. You cannot find a better resource for information related to flying and frequent flyer programs than FlyerTalk.

Now to answer your question, there is significant difference between a mileage run and a segment run. These ‘runs’ have the same end goal with a different way of achieving them. The end goal is usually to achieve or maintain elite level status, or move up a status level, within an airline frequent flyer program.   Some flyers make mileage runs simply to rack up more miles.

A mileage run is when a traveller purchases a ticket for the sole purpose of gaining miles.  Generally a mileage run is based on achieving the maximum amount of miles with the lowest cost-per-mile ratio.

An example of this would be flying DFW-LAX-HKG-SIN-SFO-ORD-DFW for a fare of  US$571.77 to achieve 21,177 comes to US¢2.7 per mile, this is an excellent fare for the miles achieved thus worthy of a mileage run.  If you find this routing for US$2,240.32 your cost-per-mile (CPM) jumps to US¢10.5 per mile which is not a good value for a mileage run.

A segment run is similar to a mileage run, but for those who generally meet their elite level status through segments.  For example when I was a US Airways Dividend Miles Platinum I achieved the status through flying in excess of 75,000 miles with US Airways and Star Alliance airlines (I have since moved my Star Alliance status to BMI’s Diamond Club program), while I made my status through miles I knew a number of flyers who travelled exclusively on short-haul commuter flights, day in and day out, for work. These flyers achieved their status through segments,  as 90 segments equals Platinum with US Airways.

For example, if at the end of the year these frequent flyers had flown 85 segments, they’d fly a few extra connecting segments to maintain their Platinum status.

I don’t know anyone who sets out to achieve status or move up their status through segments. Segment runs are hard both logistically and on your rear-end, as most segment runs involve regional flights.

Hope this explains the difference between a Mileage Run and a Segment Run.

Happy Flying!


  1. I used to fly ABE-DCA every other week, plus a few longer flights via PIT, all on US. I had a choice of direct or connect in PHL.

    In the last quarter of the year I often had 70K miles and 75 segments. I usually then switched to connections both ways to get 2K miles and 4 segments. Seven or eight trips in the quarter put me over the top for Platinum in segs, but not miles.

    Of course, I wonder why I did it, as Chairmans when flying Dash-8 doesn’t mean much.

  2. Steve

    Flying the Dash-8 isn’t that bad, considering that my home airport is only serviced by US Express Dash-8s. Five flights per day to PHL.

    Happy Flying!


  3. Hey.
    How do I tell if it’s worth it to pay delta 75 change fee to gain extra segment on my one way flight instead of going direct. I’m close to 30 segments for year but not sure if I should take another trip or just pay the 75 and get the extra segment

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