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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nicon Andritsakis

Mileage Runs

Any of y'all who have been following me for any span of time know that I fly. I fly a LOT. If you take a look at my routings, sometimes (more often than not, actually), you'd think they make no sense. Well, there is a method to my madness, and I'm not the only one that does this.

What is a Mileage Run?

A mileage run. to put it succinctly is flying around to rack up the award miles or points (depending on your airline), or to achieve or keep Elite Status with said airline. Some airlines are easier to accrue this than others, but the result is the same. Usually, you'll see the road warriors on the elite hunt get their mileage runs in toward the end of the year.

A lot of travelers tend to rack up the status and miles by using their favorite airline's credit card, I don't do that. Back when I was one of the unfortunate few to reach Delta Air Lines' Diamond Medallion/360 level, I had the American Express Delta Skymiles Reserve Card that was paid for by my employer at the time. When COVID hit and everything got locked down, I lost that position and went to work for Delta instead. While there I signed up for the Reserve Card again only to get one of the few cards that were made out of the actual skin of a retired Boeing 747. As soon as I got the card I canceled the account. Once I left Delta I sold the card itself on eBay. I hate racking up status by doing nothing. To me, as weird as it sounds, it feels cheap and unearned. I'd rather do it the old-fashioned way, by putting my butt in the seat on the plane and fly those miles. So once I was released from my bondage at Delta, my new employer let me rack up the miles with a ton of work travel on Alaska Airlines and the rest of the Oneworld Alliance.

One thing you should know about me though, I've been a status chaser since 2003, back when I traveled frequently with America West Airlines from my then-home of Phoenix, AZ. Then it was with Frontier Airlines (before they became an Ultra-Low Cost Carrier), and then Continental Airlines (oh how I miss that amazing airline). From 2007 until 2010, I managed to hit the Platinum Elite level every year. That status transferred over to United with that merger, and I let it lapse as I refused to set foot on United back then. The 2010's saw me flip flop between American Airlines and Delta. Then from 2018 up to the present day, I'm a diehard loyalist to Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan and MEA - Air Liban's Cedar Miles program.

Since I am a status chaser, and I prefer to do it by actually flying the miles, there have been some, interesting, routings. I'm going to share a few of them here, and you can judge for yourself if I'm insane for doing it, or if you'd do something like this, or if you have, what was your routing and why?

Trip 1: Alaska Airlines: Salt Lake City - Seattle - Fairbanks - Anchorage - Seattle- Denver - Seattle - Las Vegas June 2-3, 2020

I was in Salt Lake City visiting family and I didn't really have to be back home in Vegas for another 2 days. Alaska had just matched my Status with Delta and I decided to try them out revenue-wise (I had flown them before multiple times when I was dating an Alaska Flight Attendant, but as a non-rev).

Started my trip off at 8AM on June 2 with a VERY light load on the Horizon operated Embraer 175 (this was right after the Covid lockdowns were lifted), to Seattle where I had to make it to the South satellite for my onward flight to Fairbanks. Had a few hours to kill in the very nice Fairbanks airport before a quick jaunt down to Anchorage to catch my overnight red-eye to Seattle, then after a small delay, out to Denver and back to Seattle before finally making it home in Vegas.

Total time: 48 hours 12 minutes Mileage: 8,395 Elite Qualifying Miles Flown, 7 segments, allowing me to retain my new status as MVP Gold.

Trip 2: Alaska Airlines: 17 segments in 4 days November 6 -10, 2022

This was on the tail end of covering Cayman Airways' inaugural flight from Grand Cayman to Los Angeles and I just wanted to escape being home for a few more days. I had a pile of unused tickets with Alaska and I was MVP Gold status again and aimed for the MVP Gold 75k tier.

A few special things about this trip, it was my first time to Hawaii on Alaska, so from LAX I made my way to SFO and then across the Pacific, and I got to spend a decent amount of time in the Admirals Club in Honolulu waiting for the red-eye to Seattle. Arriving in Seattle real early, I had just enough time to run from the C gates up to the North satellite for my flight on Alaska's famous milk run, AS65, heading Northbound from Seattle to Anchorage with stops in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Juneau. Always wanted to do this, and along with the next flight, the red-eye from Anchorage to Phoenix, I knocked a third bucket list flight off. From Phoenix it was a quick trip back to Seattle and on to a long roundtrip to Atlanta, and coming back to Seattle to catch a round-trip to Walla Walla, just to say goodbye to AlaskaHorizon's Dash-8 propjet before they were retired. I got my workouts and steps in on this trip for sure, and came back to SLC completely worn out.

Total time: 105 hours 20 minutes Mileage: 20, 629 Elite Qualifying Miles Flown, 15 segments, achieving Alaska's MVP Gold 75k Status.

Now these totals dont include miles I flew on other trips that got me closer to my objective, but goes without saying.

So you decide. If you're a status chaser or mileage junkie. If you want to fly all that or just rack up the miles on your credit card. No two travelers are alike. But make sure you know what you're doing and how to rack up said miles on your preferred carrier, as a lot of airlines are looking for way to devalue and water down their loyalty programs (just look at Delta and how it's taken it's once award winning Skymiles and devalued the miles to the point where they are worthless except for those travelers that are solely on International travel in Business Class, or are higher up Diamond and 360 members. Forget about being a Million Miler or anything less than a Diamond, you won't even be able to get into their overcrowded Skyclubs. Other airlines seem to have kept decent levels of loyalty, I've heard good things about jetBlue's TrueBlue and with United's MileagePlus program.

Then of course, was my most favorite trip of all...

Continental Airlines July 2007: Salt Lake-City-Houston/Intercontinental-Omaha-Newark-Caracas, Venezuela-Houston/Intercontinental-Tokyo/Narita-Newark-London/Gatwick-Newark-Houston/Intercontinental-Salt Lake City in 4 days. Racked up 29,403 miles with Continental's OnePass program, crossing both oceans. Now THAT was an amazing program, and so easy to use with every tier level. That is one airline that is sorely missed.

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