Last night I was on the phone with a friend trying to plan mileage runs, and I spoke five words I never thought I’d say — “I give up on status.” Let me ‘splain.
About a week ago I wrote a post about how I was trying to decide between going for 150K miles with American, which qualifies me for their maximum “Elite Rewards,” or going for Alaska MVP Gold 75K, which gets me higher upgrade priority with Alaska and 50K bonus miles. Assuming I plan on requalifying for Executive Platinum with American and MVP Gold with Alaska, the marginal flying to reach those higher thresholds is totally justifiable and almost a no brainer. For flying 50,000 extra miles on American I’d earn a total of 170,000 redeemable miles factoring in the Elite Rewards, while for flying an additional 40,000 miles on Alaska I’d earn an additional 130,000 miles. How could I possibly turn either of those down?!
So I said “fine, I’ll do them both.” I crunched the numbers and realized that meant I’d have to fly roughly another 150,000 miles this year on revenue flights, given that a vast majority of my travel the first half of the year was on award flights. I started looking at mileage runs, and found some fares between Los Angeles and Beijing via Chicago on American for about $700, and even less when I applied one of the 10% off codes from American’s promotion earlier this week. Not only is that a great fare, but I can do two of those in a week, so can knock out over 35,000 miles in a week and use my American systemwide upgrades to upgrade to business class.
But then I thought to myself that that’s four longhaul flights back to back in angled business class seats with no wifi, so I’m losing quite a bit of “productivity” by doing that. Then I turned my focus to mileage runs that would encompass the 777-300ER, not just for the fully flat beds, but for the wifi. Okay, I could pay an extra $200 roundtrip and give up some miles to fly the 777-300ER to Sao Paulo. That premium is worth it to me in theory, but at that point is it really a “mileage run” anymore when you’re paying over six cents per mile?
At that point I got frustrated and just asked myself why I even bother going for status. I have roughly four million miles and points across programs (nothing compared to others, and sadly quite a few of them are Hilton HHonors points), and they’re constantly devaluing. So why on earth would I sit myself down on a plane with an angled flat business class seat for almost a week straight so I can start to get close to my mileage goal, when I could be redeeming millions of miles for Singapore Suites and similarly awesome products.
Heck, and even if I didn’t have miles, US Airways is almost always selling miles for 1.88 cents each, and for 90,000 miles you can travel from the US to Asia via Europe with a stopover there. So why would I mileage run to earn miles, when I can for $1,700 outright purchase a business class trip to Asia and even stop in Europe enroute if I wanted to?
It just seems silly. When I started mileage running it made sense on so many levels. I could mileage run at a cost that was 50% lower than it is now, and on top of that the airlines had crazy promotions. When I first started mileage running about eight years ago, there was an offer for 5,000 bonus elite qualifying and redeemable miles per segment flown. For the next several years we saw a double elite qualifying miles promotion almost every year, plus promotions for bonus redeemable miles.
And on top of that I was a cent per mile “purist.” It was all about the almighty cent per mile. I would’ve flown a regional jet from Miami to Shanghai if it meant my cent per mile ratio was 0.01 lower. And on top of all that, I was about 15 and there wasn’t much productivity I was giving up by mileage running (unless you consider posting on FlyerTalk to be “productive”).
But just as quickly as I was about to write off status, I remember where status is almost a necessity — for domestic flying. I have to do a fair bit of domestic travel, and I think that’s really where the value of status shines, between upgrades, priority security lines, priority boarding, priority rebooking, etc. I’d hate to give all that up. And with Alaska it’s even better, since they let you cancel revenue tickets for free and have a generous same day change policy, which is extremely useful for my shorthaul travel.
Anyway, my buddy beaubo always makes the case against status, and I’ve always just written his argument off a bit (not him, but the argument). But for the first time ever I think he may be on to something…
Just some random ramblings… anyone else ever feel this way?