In a post yesterday I mentioned that I was on a one-night trip to Seattle as part of a quasi-mileage run, and in the comments section there were a few questions that were generally asking why I would do a mileage run and/or why would I go to a city for just a night. Now I fully understand that within the world at large something like a mileage run or one-night trip is uncommon and sounds insane. However, within the miles and points community they are much more common, so it was a little interesting that my own mileage runs would come across as crazy or questionable to some of our own. Is it because I am a mom with a family at home that makes it crazier than if I were a single person (especially a single male)? Or, is it the concept all together that is simply wacky? It made me think about why I do it, and why it may not be crazy as it sounds.

What is a Mileage Run:

First, a mileage run is a trip taken primarily for the miles it earns. The elite qualifying miles are often the sought after prize, though the redeemable miles are also important. True mileage runners often book multi-segment trips and frequently try to do a “same day turn” and go right back home without leaving the airport. For example, a mileage run might be from Newark to Houston to Seattle to Dulles to Newark all in one day. If the fare permitted, some might try to also route that trip through San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, etc. to maximize the miles earned as much as possible. These trips are booked when fares are low, and the destination doesn’t matter nearly as much as the CPM (cents per mile) that the ticket costs. Anything under 5 cents per mile is pretty decent for a mileage run, and folks really start getting excited as the price gets closer to 3 cents per mile or less. I don’t (yet) consider myself a true mileage runner as the destination still very much matters, and not leaving the airport to experience the city sounds a tad depressing. I would rather have a somewhat higher CPM cost, but get to go somewhere I am interested in.

Why I (kind of) Mileage Run:

Some people like to race cars, some like to shoot guns, some like to scrapbook, some like to run…I like to fly. First and foremost I do this because I like to fly, and I like the process of being transported to a different place. You get on a plane in one city and a few hours later you are somewhere completely different. It is magical, amazing, and almost unbelievable, yet it is real and I can’t resist. Travel is my number one hobby, and I don’t need to spend a week in a new place to appreciate it.

I’m lucky that my hobby has other payoffs as well. One reason I am doing these semi-mileage runs is to try to reach United 1K status this year. I don’t know yet if that will be a reality, but I at least want to retain my Platinum status as the benefits are well worth it to my family. We benefit immensely from 8 free E+ seats at booking, 75% bonus on redeemable miles, free award booking changes, no close-in award booking fees, free same day changes, two annual regional upgrades, and a decent shot at occasional complimentary first class upgrades. If I do reach 1K I will get 4 regional upgrades and 6 global upgrades (some of which I will use domestically as if they were regionals), a 100% bonus on redeemable miles, and a very decent shot at some complimentary upgrades. I won’t know until later in the year when my travel is more certain if that is a realistic goal or not, but for now I am acting as if it is. This is my hobby and not only are the benefits great, but it is kind of a fun game as well.

I also mileage run because I like spending a little time in different cities. I often do these short trips on my own, and as a result I can move very quickly and do a large number of things without having to worry about pleasing anyone else. Some people understandably need time to adjust to a new place, a new time zone, get their bearings etc. I don’t need that when it is just me – I am fine just diving right in and going with the flow (until I get too exhausted and only care about sleep). In the last several months I have done very brief trips to San Francisco, Maui, Zurich, DC, and now Seattle and am so grateful to be able to take in some of the flavor of those cities.

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I love to hear what people talk about in different places (the Seahawks playoff run and the potential return of a basketball team was all the rage in Seattle), taste what they eat, see what they wear, experience how they get around, etc. I happily live in a North Houston suburb near extended family, but my heart needs more than just the comfortable Texas suburban lifestyle where you drive everywhere, regularly eat via a drive-thru, and barely actually see anyone in your daily life as you are all segregated in your own vehicles going directly to and from work, school, etc. Mileage runs like the one I just did to Seattle let me happily have a life in a great community for my daughter, while still getting doses of other ways of living. This sounds so silly, but I loved that in Seattle I looked normal wearing tall leather boots over jeans whereas in my hometown I am often asked if I am going to ride horses or if I am in the Texas A&M Corp of Cadets if I wear boots in that manner because it looks “unusual” (and no, most people in Texas do not ride horses).  Don’t get me wrong, I love my home, but there are things about other places that make me feel at home in a different way as well.

I am also lucky enough to have friends scattered in different cities around the country, so this is a great way to get a chance to connect with them face to face. In fact, just last night I had a delicious sushi dinner with Scott from Hack My Trip, his fiancé, and another guy that I have met via the MegaDos and some work he does with BoardingArea. It was like any other normal dinner with friends, only I had to fly on a plane to do it.

I also really want to continually become a better resource for traveling families by experiencing different hotels and different cities. The only way to do that is to travel. Being able to describe a hotel location, the atmosphere of a hotel, how walk-able the area is, how many families are there, how safe it feels, etc. can only be done if I have actually been there. I’ll never be able to go everywhere, but the more I travel, the more I know and can share.

Is it Crazy?

Those are some of the reasons why these short trips/mileage runs make sense to me. Is it still a bit crazy? Sure. Often I would like to have an extra night in a location, but when you start to be gone for several days, not only do the expenses really start adding up, but the impact on the family at home also grows exponentially. Even though there are real and tangible rewards of mileage runs, this is not an inexpensive hobby. It does not make economic sense for everyone to mileage run. Also, not everyone has the luxury of having someone at home to pick up your responsibilities while you are gone.

However, if you have the ability to do it from time to time, and you enjoy it, then I don’t think it is crazy at all. Heck, The Layover with Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel seems to be a whole TV show devoted to making the most of a short amount of time in the city. If it is on TV it must not be crazy, right?! Though they should really do that show with a kid in tow…just saying. ;)

A final example of why I don’t think it is crazy happened this morning while I was snuggled in a robe and blankets sitting in my room looking out at Seattle. I got to sit in the quiet and read the paper while drinking coffee in bed – an absolute parent luxury. I got a text from my husband that said, “Dog puked on stairs. Hysterica C (that means toddler has gone temporarily crazy). Server crash. Hope you are having a fantastic morning.” He didn’t mean it at all in a bad or sarcastic way, but just wanted to keep me in the loop. While I feel bad I wasn’t there to help, I was also ever so grateful for a moment of my own tranquility that I would not get at home very often simply due to the realities of family life. I get to return refreshed and ready to rock and roll with child meltdowns, dog messes, job emergencies etc. In fact, I get to almost look forward to them.

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So no, I don’t think these short trips are crazy. In fact, I think they help keep me sane. Which of course may mean that I am crazy. Do you take true or pseudo-mileage runs? Why do you do it? Or, why do you not do it?

Posted by Mommy Points | 54 Comments

54 Responses to “Mileage Runs are (Not) Crazy”

  1. i love Mileage runs and I agree, they’re not crazy at all!!

  2. dhammer53 says:

    MP, you can do a Run to Brooklyn for BRT 14 (Brooklyn Reality Tour). It will be the first or 2nd week in June… on a Saturday.

    As a matter of fact, since I’m mentioning it on your blog, you can sponsor it with give-aways. In return, I promise to send you a box of toys for Little C!

    Suggested best route to AUS/JFK…

    AUS/IAH/SFO/NRT/SIN/LHR/JFK.

  3. Audrey says:

    I love flying and traveling too! I also have a kindergartner but having relocated to China while my husband is working crazy hours with no extended family help, I think you’re very lucky to be able to do what you love. And no, it’s not crazy and I completely agree with you on the part whereby it gives you time for yourself and then you are ready to go back to the chaos again. Call it a little break but just a flight away. :)

  4. SEABras says:

    In my opinion most people do something others consider “crazy”. Some of my friends still got out and have 12+ drinks at 28 years old. That’s crazy to me. I spend as much time as I can in new cities, airports and aircraft. They think I’m nuts. I think as long as Mileage Running fulfills a goal/joy in life and doesn’t affect your priorities/family/finances too much it’s great :)

  5. Don’t you just love Seattle? We flew there to catch a cruise to Alaska, and I loved the city. So clean and people are so polite!

  6. jason says:

    are you staying at Olive 8?

  7. Carl says:

    To each their own. I suppose i can see doing it if it gets you to the next status level or there is some sort of mistake fare that makes it somewhat economical versus the time factor.

    If i was to do it, i would try to actually enjoy where i am going for a day or two, unless it was a quick turn in the same time zone.

  8. Ko says:

    Glad you are enjoying Seattle. Despite the weather, it’s one of the best places to live. I met Scott over the summer at the Museum of Flight and gave him some Boeing swag. Keep up the good work on your blog. Been a pleasure to read.

  9. arthur says:

    Hah, completely agree. Did a mileage run, not the best CPM, but got me to DL PM and was an enjoyable micro-vacation.

    Wrote a blog post for Travel Channel on my adventure.

    http://blog.travelchannel.com/the-traveling-type/2013/01/07/flying-to-stockholm-for-dinner-am-i-crazy/

    P.S. I work there, but we didn’t meet when you were in the office, but I work closely with the folks you did meet.

  10. ohme says:

    No, mileage runs are not crazy when credit card referrals are paying for them.

  11. Vicente says:

    Vacation Run is the right term, I enjoy them as well when I spend a night or two before turning around. I did one mileage run to Maui where I never left airports and sky clubs and that was to as fun.

  12. Peggy says:

    I’m in total agreement with your reasoning, and I too love flying and the magic of being in another city within a couple hours. I recall your asking your readers if you should do the mileage run to SFO and got a resounding yes from everyone, including me. I’m a bit late to the party because I’m doing my first mileage run next month. At first I was just going to go to L.A. for the Academy Awards, then decided to spice things up by going by way of DEN, SFO (having lunch with my daughter), then arriving LA by 5pm. I’m super excited. Got a free hotel night there, then home to PHX in the morning. My only question to you is, are you forgetting about your decision that a trip per month is ideal for you?

  13. Vicente says:

    Oops meant NOT as fun. But at least I got some peace and quiet to catch up on reading.

  14. Scottrick says:

    Mileage runs are my alone time. Megan has learned that I need them or I go crazy.

    I’m a bit surprised you stayed for a night. I am usually in and out. On my upcoming trip to Bangkok, it was Megan who convinced me not to sleep 5 hours in the lounge and come back the next day, so I’ll end up visiting a few sights.

  15. Glenn (The Military Frequent Flyer) says:

    Crazy is relative. I willing jump out of perfectly good airplanes. In comparison a mileage run is pretty sane!

  16. rahul says:

    My wife thinks I’m crazy when I do a mileage run, but when she gets the perks of my 1k status, free upgrades and our ability to redeem these miles for first class tickets, she’s a happy camper. It’s a good trade off, I fly the miles so when we travel we can in style.

  17. Cecilia says:

    Great post! I agree, it’s a little crazy. But if you really think about it, a lot of hobbies can seem crazy for people who are not involved in that activity.
    I have done a couple of mileage runs, but I only do them if I’m a few points short of premium status.

    Being based in Europe, I would have to say that my craziest mileage run was to Seattle from Frankfurt. I travelled 10000 miles round trip, and spent 26 hours in Seattle.

    Another time was to Madrid from Copenhagen in one day. The turn around in Madrid was 40 minutes and it was the same crew back as on the way there. Felt kinda stupid when getting back onto the aircraft after having spent barely half an hour at the airport waiting for my ride back home.

  18. Matt says:

    I’m also doing a mileage run via Seattle tomorrow(SAN-SEA-JFK-SEA-SAN.) Great city!

  19. Diana says:

    Being home with a sick toddler this week has me dreaming about flying off somewhere by myself.
    Glad you had a great time here, and yay for boots with jeans:)

  20. Bleep says:

    Can you share your UA mileage runs from AUS and IAH? I find that IAH is not mileage run friendly on most forums as it is often used as a mid point for East/West coasters from say SFO or EWR on United. I’d be interested in doing this, but it is hard to find high mileage/low rate routes from IAH or AUS.

  21. chemist661 says:

    Back when I was healthy (prior to 10/2011), I did a couple of true mileage “runs” (where I turned around w/o overnite stays). One was in 2003 (or so) where I had 92K UA miles (100K status for 1K at the time) and it was late in the year. I booked for $200 RT LAX-JFK nonstop and I did a straight turnaround. I got the funniest looks when someone asked me “didn’t you just get off the plane?”. I answered YES and that I will get 1K status. I got 10 SWU’s that year that ended up being good on almost any fare plus lots of other benefits. Well worth $200 cost in my book.

  22. chemist661 says:

    I also did alot of weekend trips to alot of interesting places. Back about 2002-2004, there were alot of sub $500 LAX-SIN fares and I flew to SIN quite a few times for 2-3 days. On one of my trips, I spend 24 hrs in HNL, 2 days in Tokyo, 3 days in Hong Kong plus 2 days in Singapore. All this for under $600. (there was an extra $100 charge for the 2nd stopover). Well worth it!!!

    I got to see alot of places and have no regrets. Now that I have advanced stages of cancer, I am very glad I got to see alot of places while I was single. (I got married for my first time in 2006 when I was 48). With my large “stash” of miles, I took my wife all over the place. Multiple trips to Europe in Business Class, Hawaii & lots of trips upgraded within the lower 48. (I was top tier on American before I got dignosed with cancer in October 2011).

    BOTTOM LINE: NO REGRETS on doing mileage runs and/or many, many short trips all over the place because one never knows when one’s health will change things like it did in Oct 2011 with me.

  23. Anita says:

    I have no opinion about mileage runs, but as a mom of three I’m a big advocate of mom (and dad!) taking quick solo trips to rejuvenate. The wonder and joy of parenting can get lost in the relentlessness. Taking a break helps everyone.

    For the record, my kids are grade school age and I’d give up my entire mileage balance to spend another day with each of them as toddlers. Take lots of photos and videos!!!

  24. Cindy says:

    I am new to all this but am definitely interested in mileage runs. I work from home (or technically from anywhere!) so this could be ideal for me. Challenge is that I live in the Rochester, NY market. Any suggestions or resources to direct me to so I can figure out the best way to research the feasibility of this?

  25. TS says:

    Let’s not give Houston itself a bad rap–no one in the city would bat an eye or comment about the Corps for wearing boots! If you’re up in mostly-rural Montgomery County, that’s a different story. But that’s, like, an hour away. Let’s not call that Houston.

    I wonder how many people will read this and think we’re all completely devoid of fashion sense (or common sense) down here.

  26. Deb says:

    HI MP,
    I have never done a MR and would love a MP post on what it really means, how you know how many miles you need in a year, etc…The real nuts and bolts summarized.
    Thanks

  27. kestie says:

    As a working mom of a cranky teen (“Gee Mom, I know you worked until 8 pm but what do you mean you didn’t wash my favorite jeans last night?!”), I think you are on to something. I occasionally do a MR to get away and visit my best friends in Providence or Denver for one night. We grab dinner when I get there, talk until we can’t stay awake, grab breakfast and then I fly home. Yes, I spend probably as much time in the air, but I also love to fly and it represents a real break for me. My goal is to fly cheaply, build miles and capture some me-time with the women that I love, but am often too tired/busy to call at night or on the weekends. That being said, with the advent of credit cards giving so many benefits, and my inability from a time/money vantage point to attain beyond a “gold” level, I do this more for the quality of life and to have some fun. Life is short. Follow your boarding pass.

  28. “I like to fly. First and foremost I do this because I like to fly, and I like the process of being transported to a different place. You get on a plane in one city and a few hours later you are somewhere completely different. It is magical, amazing, and almost unbelievable, yet it is real and I can’t resist.”

    This.

  29. sick of Texas says:

    You are not CRAZY. You are bored beyond belief with the whole Houston Suburbs. The weather sucks, drive time to anything interesting is 3+ hours, there are no real recreational opportunities close by. And the women wear UGGS with Adias shorts (true fashion statement). Can’t even start on how much litter there is everywhere. I know you like living by your family, but get the hell out of Texas and live some where “Civilized”

  30. Nick says:

    MR’s are not crazy, but in the end usually not worth it, unless they are in the 5K mile range a year total you are basically just handing the airlines money so that you can hand the airlines more money. If you have an excuse like a weekend in Hawaii, or a blog, then they are somewhat more justified, I guess.

    Having said that there are some great fares to Istanbul and I didn’t use any of my SWU’s last year.

  31. Pamela T says:

    Girl after my own heart. In my earliest working days, aka before the hub and spoke era, I used to plan my business trips around where my college friends had landed jobs or graduate schools. I would extend my trips over weekends. Saw a lot of the country, visited all 50 states, and kept up with all my friends. This was all before cell phones and texting. Enjoy your life. Get in all the travel you can. Now I am into adventure and discovery all around the world.

  32. more important things says:

    I think the point here is what is the priorities of each individual. I’m very grateful for all of the free travel that I get because of credit card signups, but I don’t feel the need to go out of my way (or spent all kinds of additional money) to do mattress runs or mileage runs. I don’t need the upgrades ( I’ll take them, but I don’t NEED them) Additional money goes to 401k, Roth Iras, 529. I don’t want to be working the rest of my life. I want to retire at 60. Not everyone needs room service breakfast. Perkins works for me. Not everyone needs a suite- I’m on vacation, I only spend about an hour in the room (outside of sleeping).

  33. Jamie says:

    MP I love the idea of a quick trip for some time alone and with friends to recharge batteries. Now that my kids are beyond babies I think I should go for it.
    Since you are doing this a bit speculatively, i.e. not sure you’ll get to 1K, it makes even more sense that the trips are multipurpose. Fun, work, and miles. Sounds good to me!

  34. Jimmy says:

    I don’t think your doing MR I think your taking mini vacations.It’s just sounds better.

  35. mommypoints says:

    Jamison, at least I’m not the only one!
    Dan, I so want to go to that…sadly I am already booked the first and second weekend in June. I will make it some time though, I promise.
    Audrey, you are so correct that it requires support at home to pull off, and I am lucky to be in that position.
    SeaBras, I have some of those friends too, just add a couple years to 28. ;) I think you are right – most of us have a little bit of crazy in our own ways. The trick is to keep it in check. ;)
    FreeTravelGuys, I do love Seattle. Considered grad school up there briefly. The lighting in the winter would mess with my head a bit I think, but I love visiting.
    Jason, I did stay there. Expect a full report soon. I thought it was great.
    Carl, I also prefer getting a chance to stay for a bit.
    Ko, I love the Museum of Flight. Didn’t visit it on this trip, but did on OWMD about a year ago. Will try to include some pictures when I do the Seattle write-up as it is worth a visit.
    Arthur, love the post! I hope if I am up there again we get a chance to meet.
    Vincente, love the term vacation run! That sums it up quite nicely.
    Peggy, SFO was the first. ;) Your trip sounds very fun! You have a good memory about the “one trip a month” thing. ;) I have actually been doing pretty well with one trip a month for the past several months as it is a very good balance for me….but that balance is going to temporarily be out of whack as we stockpiled the first quarter of the year. After that things go back to a more normal level for a while. Hopefully we we haven’t overdone it too much!
    Scottrick, Megan sounds like the brains behind the operation. ;) I want time where i go – even if it is just an afternoon and evening. Otherwise I would have missed a good dinner! Ha ha.
    Glenn, love it!
    Rahul, sounds like a great arrangement.
    Cecillia, that sounds like a real mileage run!
    Matt, have fun!
    Diana, I hear ya on that. They are super cute when they don’t feel good and want to snuggle, but it is so much work. Hope your kiddo feels better soon! I agree about boots and jeans. ;)
    Bleep, I usually post when I find a fare I am excited about…or at least tweet it. @Mommy_Points I also recommend just following the MR thread on Flyertalk. IAH is not the hotbed of mileage runs, so my CPM is higher than someone living on the coasts.
    Chemist, so true. You never know when life will throw you a curve ball of some sort that changes things completely. So glad to see you still out and about some though. Hope to see you at another meet-up/seminar soon!
    Anita, very good advice. I think we are about to upgrade to a better video camera to capture more of her right now. It is a very magical time…though a break for a night to appreciate the magic is needed after not having a full night sleep in months, getting peed on, dealing with tantrums, etc. Ha ha. Toddlers are great though.
    Cindy, I recommend following the Mileage Run thread on Flyertalk. I am far from a true mileage runner, but if you follow that thread and @airfarewatchdog and @theflightdeal you will be off to a good start.
    TS, downtown Houston would certainly be different, that’s why I said suburb. ;) I don’t want to knock Houston – I grew up in this area and then chose to return here as an adult. However, there are some things about other areas that also feel like home, too. That said, Go Texans!
    Deb, I feel silly doing that as I am not a hard core mileage runner, but I can give it a shot. I say go to Hack My Trip for the real nuts and bolts as it is serious business for him. I can do the intro course though. ;)
    Kestie, love the last line and I think short trips to connect with friends are perfect.
    Heather, ;)
    Sick of Texas, ha ha. I agree with some of what you say for sure, but there are things I love about the Houston area, too. I loved my time in NYC and Austin, but family trumps location for now. (If we did move I think Colorado would win) I will just do trips to get doses of other lifestyles and then return to my suburban lifestyle…though I won’t wear Uggs with shorts. At least the cost of living here is extremely low so we can afford trips to other places.

  36. Andrew says:

    At LAX now. LAX-SFO-HNL
    Come home Sunday HNL-LAX
    Always nice for a weekend in Oahu, but did as this trip will put me at 35,028 miles on UAL in my Statis Match. Was matched to 1K from Delta Diamond. Requirements were 35,000 PQM’s in 90 days to retain it. I forgot code shares didn’t count (with United Flight #’s but on US Airways I would of flown about 42K in the 90 days) I wanted to go direct but had to same day change for free) to stop in SFO just to make it buy 28 miles,
    Mind you Sunday the 13th (when I return) was the very last day to qualify. I booked this run/trip about a week ago for $396 – $110 UAL Travel Certificate left over from a volunteered bump on an oversold flight).
    I love mileage runs. I am obsessed with status. I love staying in hotels and love being on the road. Don’t love the “institution” of flying. Very “public” the security, the first time flyers, the babies crying, etc… As a 29yo male who trades the stock markets this is ideal for me. I’m going to get engaged this year and she doesn’t like me being away 4-8 nights a month ( no not all Mileage Runs) but she loves the perks of my 1K status.
    With my regular travel and with 1 mileage run a month on UAL I will easily hit 1K.
    I live in Newport Beach and am 5 minutes from SNA, 25 LGB, 45 LAX, 50 ONT, 60 Burbank, 70 SAN, 80 Palm Springs.
    Needless to say I have a ton of options, and its very easy to find mileage runs for 5,000 + miles for under $350 regularly. Just completed SNA-EWR-BOS-IAH-SNA 1/8/13 – 1/9/13 for $251 for 5577 PQM’s + 5577 miles (100% 1K Bonus) that’s an Amazing Deal.
    Sorry for the long post.
    Next runs will be long weekends to Asia/Europe

  37. mommypoints says:

    Nick, I agree that you have to enjoy doing it or the economics of it likely don’t play out in your favor.
    Pamela, gotta love getting the most out of something you have to do anyway. Enjoy your adventures around the world!
    More important things, I think everything you mentioned is also important. Keeping a balance is key, and you are right that MRs aren’t for everyone. Traveling for free on credit card sign-ups is just as amazing!
    Jamie, I wouldn’t have done it in the baby stage either. But with a 3 y/o it is much easier. Let me know if you pull the trigger, I would love to hear how it goes!
    Jimmy, I think you are right. ;)
    Andrew, love it! Enjoy Oahu!

  38. Michael says:

    I do feel there is a doublestandard by some when it comes to you since you are a mom with a young child, but that is EVEN MORE REASON to do the runs, as I’m sure you are refreshed, invigorated and excited to resume MOM LIFE when you return.

    The real reason that mileague running and mattress hopping are NOT crazy is that FIRST look in your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse’s eye when they are upgraded with you, go in the lounge with you, and travel like someone make BIG $$$ — all because of you and your mileage running efforts, he said as an AA EXPLAT and HYATT DIAMOND…

  39. MrChu says:

    MP, very well written and appropriate read for non-travel inclined folks! I passed it on to my wife who has always been questioning my motive behind these trips! although she enjoys the upgrades and free travel during family trips.

    This will help her understand the thinking behind all that travel.

    Kudos to you for keeping it so simple to understand!

  40. DrewBird says:

    Wait – Texans don’t ride horses to work? ;)

  41. Liz says:

    I’m interested in mileage runs, but am not sure how to dip my toes in the water as it were. Any beginners resources you’d recommend? Where do you find your runs generally (even if not beginner friendly)? And, I am based in the UK for half of the year, so do you have any idea where I could find UK/EU-based runs? (Especially like the one @Cecelia did. That sounds perfect lol.)

    And, I’ve got an unrelated question for you- I primarily fly United, and am ready for another churn. Besides the usual Chase Sapphire/Freedom/Ink and direct United cards, are there any others that would be good for picking up UA miles?

  42. Cogswell says:

    Wow, this has become quite a passionate discussion! I guess it depends on whether you enjoy the travelling part or the actual destination. A 36-hour door-to-door trip in order to be able to spend just 12 hours awake in some new place doesn’t really count as a getaway for me. So it really is just to get miles, and for that you are probably spending $400 or 500 (or much more). I think people generally greatly underestimate the cost. Once you include getting to/from the airports on each end, parking, taxis, massively overpriced hotel food, dinner out, flight, hotel room, etc. it really adds up (nevermind being away from your family and potentially have to take vacation days from work)

    Sure, you eventually get the perks for status, but you’ve spent a significant amount of time and money getting there – do the actual math, you’ll be surprised. Then the catch is that, in order to enjoy the perks, you generally have to spend even more money. For the most part the perks are add-ons or upgrades.

    Just be careful – I think the perks of having status are often overvalued, and many people first convince themselves that they want it, and then afterwards try to rationalize the excessive spending needed to get there. Anyway, to each his or her own!

  43. cabin in the woods says:

    I think you are going about things all wrong. You love the kiddo but she seems to damper some fun that could be had (not eating in amazing NYC restaurants). Why don’t you take a few family vacations- staying at a VRBO. Example 1. at a beautiful cabin in Dillon Colorado in the winter. C and family can make snow angels and built snow forts. Come in from the cold to a nice fire, drink some hot chocolate, roast marshmellows. When kiddo needs to sleep, you and hubby aren’t held hostage in a room. You could even bake cookies. Example 2. Beach vacation . Now let’s move on to the adult time. Take a few vacations alone with Hubby. Go to the Washington DC or New York places- eat good food, get drunk, be romantic, be sponteneous. Go to the theatre. Go see art, baseball, or a concert . Laugh in the rain. Take long walks and remember why you fell in love in the first place. Sounds like you need this more than mileage runs.

  44. Sam G says:

    What a timely post as I am sitting in the ORD admirals club on a mileage run to Tucson. Of course I don’t think they’re crazy, but what do I know? Haha I love how my friends and family say they wish they could get the upgrades and travel for free (award travel) like I do, but in the same breath call me crazy for doing mileage runs. They don’t seem to understand you have to put the work in the get the benefits.

  45. Rachael says:

    Post Request – could you write about the upgrading process? How will status matter if you’re on mileage tickets? Doesn’t that automatically put you at the bottom of the priority list anyway? I’d be curious to get your take…

  46. mrydoc says:

    I made 1k last year for the first time and definitely have the same bug you do. My trajectory to higher status is about a year ahead of yours, and I absolutely love reading your blog. I spent at least a thousand dollars extra to attain 1k (extra flights + premier accelerator). For me, the best part of having status has been being at the top of the list for upgrades, flight rebooking, award flights and navigating through the airport. The added award availability in the premium cabin is a huge plus as well. I have already used my GPU’s for international upgrades (confirmed), so I feel I’m getting my money’s worth from the time and money I spent last year to obtain 1K status.

    I agree with what Cogswell says above, however. You have to be very careful when assessing costs and value. I would add one additional caution. Your blog is one of the best ones out there precisely because you approach things from the perspective of an average person. I often point friends and colleagues to your blog as it is the most readable for someone new to the game. Once you become a high tier elite, your problems and interests may change (mine certainly did). I used to be perfectly happy with the economy plus not so long ago, but now if I don’t score an upgrade to first class, I’m not as happy sitting there. I was a little saddened to read that mommy points is doing mileage runs, like so many other bloggers out there. The niche of family travel needs a strong champion and I hope you continue to be it. That said, enjoy the perks!

  47. mommypoints says:

    Michael, I think you are right – I also love the look when someone else gets to benefit from my status!
    MrChu, hope it helps!
    DrewBird, well only on Tuesdays.
    Liz, those really are the main ways. The transfer rate from SPG is bad. You could start building with other star alliance partners (for example US Airways) to use on United, if that helps.
    Cogswell, the costs do add up. If you are doing it just for the miles it often doesn’t make sense. If you are doing it as a mini-trip then the equation shifts some.
    Cabin in the woods, we actually do have some family trips as you describe planned, but we do also take her to some more adult destinations as well. In part because there isn’t always someone to leave her with, and because we all like being together. As a parent you do give up some things like nice dinners in NYC, but I also got to see her face when she met Santa, so it is just different. Husband has limited days though and we don’t like to leave her with grandparents more than necessary. That said, we have an adult Europe trip next month and we are very much looking forward to it. ;)
    Sam, the benefits certainly don’t appear overnight!
    Rachael, if you are specifically talking about United then you are at the bottom of your status on award tickets – if and only if you have a United cobranded credit card. Otherwise you are SOL. However, if you are 1K and on an award ticket you are still ahead of all Plats, Golds, and Silvers for upgrades.
    mrydoc, I hear what you are saying. It is a balance for sure to keep most of what I do or write about attainable for most people. That certainly is the goal and the heart of what the blog is about. Perhaps I should call these mini-trips and not mileage runs. ;) However, replacing my full time job with a blog about a year ago immediately skewed my own reality a bit. So, family travel will always remain the focus, and hopefully stuff like this will just enhance it for some and not take away from the other things I write about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  48. It’s only crazy if you’ve never done one before. :) I resolve to mileage run more in 2013.

  49. MCP says:

    From the standpoint of a blogger, I agree that a mileage run is necessary because it’s much more credible to have first hand information about hotels,flights, cities etc. I have benefited from many of these trip reviews and I find them interesting. More power to you!!

    However, mileage runs for status, upgrades etc – Not for me. I am comfortable in the middle of the plane, back of the plane, whatever, just so long as I get to my destination (although many will disagree). And although a suite upgrades would be nice, I can live with a regular, nice, clean room with a view if possible, while I try to get out and experience the world of travel. The only “upgrades” I am interested in is free WI-FI and free breakfast. Otherwise, I’m good.

  50. Great discussion! I’m a hotel geek the way you are a plane one, so my splurge is satisfied with regional hotel stays most of the time. That being said, I totally get it!

  51. Diana W says:

    If you’re ever interested in having guest blogger trip reports, let me know. We’re heading to Asia soon with our toddler. 8 flights and 12 hotel nights with an 18month old = excited but terrified mommy =)

  52. Planet earth says:

    Why was my comment censored?

    My comment:
    How do mileage runners reconcile greenhouse gas emissions from jet aircraft?

    • mommypoints says:

      Planet Earth, I ll let it through, but it was censored because it is really just there to link to your site – and not so much on the topic at hand (ie spam). Who knew the earth had a website? ;)

  53. […] Mommy Points wrote a fun post in defense of mileage runs last week. While this is a mileage spend and not a mileage run, I’ll return refreshed and with my spark back, hopefully with fun stories to tell. So you tell me, how nuts is it, really? […]

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