chitownscorner

Where Chitown's travels and smart tips intersect.

What is a Mileage Run?

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A mileage run is a trip taken in part on an airline or airline alliance, such as Star Alliance, for the purpose of earning or maintaining elite status. I tend to earn my United elite status by taking long trips to international locations like Dubai, Sydney, Japan, Europe, and Hawaii. To start, let’s distinguish between Elite Qualifying Miles(EQMs), and Redeemable miles(RDMs).

Elite Qualifying Miles(EQMs) should be thought of as status miles which are counted towards earning elite status, but they can not be used for award travel. They may be earned from flights, but they may also be earned as bonuses for purchasing high cost airline tickets in full fare coach or Business and First class tickets. For example, United tickets bought in full fare coach(Y or B class fares), Business, and First class all earn a 50 percent EQM bonus for each mile that is flown: 1.5 times the actual miles flown. A 10,000 mile trip would earn a total of 15,000 EQMs with this bonus( 1.5 x 10,000 = 15,000 EQMs). EQMs may also be earned with certain activity like using United’s Mileage Plus Visa credit card for united.com ticket purchases. This will be covered in a later post. Redeemable Miles(RDMs) are the miles that are actually earned and posted into an account. from flight activity and may be redeemed to book award travel. A person flying Los Angeles to Frankfurt on United in discounted coach class would earn around 12,000 Redeemable Miles. If the person holds United’s Premier Executive or 1K status, a 100 percent redeemable miles bonus will also be earned, so the LAX-FRA trip would earn 24,000 RDMs and 12,000 EQMs. This shows why it is worthwhile to acquire elite status with an airline alliance.

For example, a frequent traveler may have earned 89,000 EQMs in United’s Mileage plus program, and they need 100,000 to reach 1K status. The person decides to take a quick 3 day trip to London and buys a San Francisco to London ticket discounted coach fare which will earn over 12,000 EQMs and end the year with 101,000 EQMs.. The purpose of the trip is to earn 1K status, and the benefit is also seeing London for a few days. What is even more advantageous is for frequent flyers to book travel during promotions when Double Elite Qualifying Miles(DEQM) are offered. This type of promotion results in a traveler earning twice the number of EQMs by complying with the terms and conditions of the offer. In our SFO-LHR example, the person would earn 24,000 EQMs during a DEQM offer. United Airlines offered DEQM promotions during 2008 & 2009.

There are more hard core examples of mileage running. A few years ago, oil was priced much lower and the dollar was not as debased and weak as it is now. FlyerTalk members often favorite destination for a mileage run would be Singapore.  From the West coast, a SIN run would earn 17,000 or even 20,000 or more EQMs from Chicago or the East coast depending upon the routing. There are stories of FlyerTalk members whom would fly to Singapore, arrive at 11:30 pm, go to the transit hotel for 6 hours, and get back on the 7:00 am flight to fly back to the United States all for earning their elite status and RDMs. I hope this provides insight as to the thinking behind Mileage runs. Happy travels!

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Written by chitownflyer

July 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

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