Browsing Tag: Mileage Runs

Time to earn some miles on Delta. Image by Mal Muir.

Time to earn some miles on Delta. Image by Mal Muir.

In the first three parts (LEG 1 & LEG 2 and LEG 3) of my mileage run series I talked about what a mileage run is, why you would go on a mileage run and I also spoke about why I got into the mileage game.  What hasn’t been talked about yet is what it is like to actually go on a mileage run.

Mileage runs can be fun, they can be interesting, but one thing that is certain is that you will spend a lot of time in those airline seats.

I have already completed two mileage runs earlier this year;  one to Dallas (DFW) and another to Newark (EWR).  Even though both of the mileage runs were on Delta, one gave me quite a lot more points, as the Newark run was in First Class (thanks to a cheap K Up fare, but that is a story for another day).

The two different mileage runs I did.  To Dallas (in Red) and to Newark (in black)

The two different mileage runs I did. To Dallas (in Red) and to Newark (in black)

The Dallas run had me away from Seattle for just 1 night, with three flights each day going from Seattle to Salt Lake City to Minneapolis to Dallas on day one.  Day two had me flying Dallas to Memphis to Minneapolis to Seattle.  The Dallas run had me visiting three new airports (MEM, DFW & SLC), flying two new aircraft types (CRJ-900 and MD-90) but there were some very tight connections:  45-60 minutes at each airport.

I booked my tickets with the minimum time legally allowed, which probably was not so smart!  It made for some interesting times that weekend with me having to run from Gate F7 to C17 in Minneapolis (MSP) to make my flight to Dallas. I made the flight with 5 minutes to spare and covered the distance between gates (roughly ½ to ¾ of a mile) in about 6 minutes.  Making the flight meant I could enjoy some BBQ in Dallas before a good night’s sleep.

The First Class seat may make mileage running a little bit more comfortable - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The First Class seat may make mileage running a little bit more comfortable – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The Newark run though was much longer.  More time between flights and I had to position down to San Francisco.  With Seattle to San Francisco on United and my run from SFO to Atlanta to Newark, returning back to San Fran via Minneapolis, this run was definitely a lot more comfortable.  However the killer was the five hour layover in San Francisco on the way home.  It did give me plenty of time to relax in lounges, explore the airports but there were two very sleepless nights.

The lack of sleep, the long waits in the terminals, getting back to Seattle close to midnight after leaving Newark almost 18 hours prior was a challenge, but still all worth it for me. I was lucky enough to get First Class seats on these flights and was being fed and watered on each leg, but it still was quite a bit of time spend inside an airline cabin.

A common site for mileage runners.  The back of the seat in front of you. Get used to it!

A common site for mileage runners. The back of the seat in front of you. Get used to it! – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

No matter what kind of run you do, you’re going to want to make sure you plan accordingly. You definitely don’t want to have a checked bag as then you can’t take a bump here or there to help out on the costs (none offered on my flights).  You need to stay hydrated and fed so snacks and plenty of water help (biscoffs from the lounges kept me going on the Dallas run).  The biggest thing is you need to stay entertained.

Staying hydrated and nourished on a flight means getting food however you can get it. A breakfast thanks to the Delta SkyClub

Staying hydrated and nourished on a flight means getting food however you can get it. A breakfast thanks to the Delta SkyClub

You can’t rely on airline provided entertainment, such as seat back TV or WiFi as most of the time it is not fitted or they might not work.  So a laptop/ipad with some videos is a good choice.  The things that I found worked perfectly were a good book/magazine, which never need charging.  Make sure to wear good comfy clothes as you’re going to spend long hours in them…  running shoes might help too!

Even though the mileage runs took two full weekends to complete, it gave me more than enough points to re-qualify for my status with Virgin Australia.  I earned more than I thought I would with the Dallas run and then earned more than half of my year’s worth of points on that one run to Newark.

Then I was able to do a mini mileage run during my recent trip to Australia (future stories coming soon), to get my four minimum segments and I am set for another 12 months.

I know putting this mileage run into words might make this sound, no so exciting, but try taking a look at my photos of this mileage run and telling me it was not a fun time!

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.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Yes I am a milage junkie, just a selection of my cards - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Yes I am a milage junkie, just a selection of my cards – Photo: Mal Muir.

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.

Qantas First Class Suite on its A380 - Photo: Qantas

Qantas First Class Suite on its A380 – Photo: Qantas

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?

Delta Sky Club Access (like this one in Seattle) is just one of the little perks given to Velocity Gold members - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Delta Sky Club Access (like this one in Seattle) is just one of the little perks given to Velocity Gold members – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

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.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos