The last two articles I wrote on mileage running barely scratch the surface of it all (see LEG 1 & LEG 2). The “points game” and loyalty programs are a hobby of mine, but I am by no means an expert. I will continue share what I know:
My name is Mal and I am a mileage junkie.
There are a number of reasons why people get into the points game and I have mine. I think the first real introduction to this world was using a website called Flyertalk. Once I got started on the site, seeing what points could get me, well, I was hooked. Reading other people’s reports of First Class seats, lounges, terminals, or benefits that came with elite status, it was all just too much, I had to do it.
At the time, I lived in Australia. Chasing points is not as lucrative there as it is in the US. There are limited options for domestic travel (what I was doing the most), but I earned what I could. When I first started, I decided I was going to be using my points towards “aspirational” rewards. The high-end ones that most only dream of seeing.
Of course, everyone has a different idea of what is rewarding to them, but for me the epitome of that ideal would have been a First Class International flight. There was one I had my eye on: Qantas A380 First Class.
But the real change came for me after coming back from a round the world trip. I had achieved Star Gold Status and I status matched over to Virgin Australia’s updated Velocity Program. I was given gold status and it was all easy going from there.
The first trip I had, I got access to the Virgin Australia lounge before my flight, which was an oasis. I could get a drink, a coffee or a snack and relax in peace and quiet. I received priority check in, boarding and security. It was all too much for me and there was no going back at this point.
When a promotion for double points came out, I did my first couple of mileage runs to keep my rewards coming. Then I moved to the USA & just kept it up. I could use my Velocity status with Delta and Virgin America, getting benefits with both airlines. I have now almost finished my re-qualification to Velocity Gold for another year & the thing is. It only took me two weekend runs to get my re-qualification & now I just want more. But where do I draw the line?
The mileage runs in the US were very different to the ones I had previously done back in Australia. They were not as comfortable as you think with numerous flights in a day, tight connections (50 mins reduced to less than 15 in Minneapolis… in winter…), long days, early flights and lots of cramped seats. Thankfully I always had those Delta lounges for an escape, but that’s not always possible. There were times when I just wanted it to be all over & other times when I loved every second of it. But this is the life I choose and for me, it is worth it.
Now my total outlook on flights and flying has changed. Not only do I look at price, but I look at the points earning, the route, facilities — so many other factors. A mileage run flight might take me hours to book and work out. A simple trip between two cities is NEVER that simple.
Points are definitely lucrative, if you know where to look (and there are plenty of blogs out there to help) and are willing to make a few sacrifices. I have a few rewards in mind, lots of points to burn, the possibilities are endless. But I do see Qantas First class in my future… and the ends do justify the means.
I will be concluding this series with one last LEG coming soon.
|This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. |
Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.