A Day in the Life of a Mileage Run

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

I posted earlier about how I explained the concept of a mileage run to a three year old….when talking to her I left out details like cents per mile, elite qualifying miles, etc. but she understood the payoff of why you do it.  You do it to get to a certain threshold of flying in a calendar year that will (hopefully) pay out in real benefits.  In her mind, we did it so we can get “seats that turn into beds” when we go to Paris next year.  Essentially, that is true since I need the global system-wide upgrades I will earn as a United 1k to upgrade our trip.

I’ve done a few “vacation runs” where I take a quick vacation to somewhere because of a low fare, but I have never flown somewhere and not even left the airport on a true mileage run until today.  In truth, it was originally booked as a vacation run to Boston for a night.  The price was low, the miles earned were exactly what I needed to hit 100,000 on the year with United, and I really wanted to see a little bit of Boston.  But, then life got busy and an unnecessary night away home didn’t sound like a great idea.  So, I did a free “Same Day Change” and moved my next day return to the same day as my outbound, thus creating my first true mileage run.

I’m also now looking at a three hour delay, but that just comes with the territory.  I’m not at all a huge fan of mileage runs as a routine way of life, but I think it was the right call in my case this time as falling a couple thousand miles short of 1k would just be silly.  Even sillier than flying around in a circle all day…

For those interested in real numbers, the ticket cost $197 for a Houston – Boston – Houston turn.  I could have done more creative routing to up the number of miles earned, but I just needed the 3,000 miles that come with the direct route, so that is what I went for.  Came to about 6.5 cents per mile, which is a bit high for a mileage run, but is pretty good for an easy flight out of Houston on United.

If you think mileage running for status sounds terrible, you have a very valid point.  However, it is also not all that bad.  Here is what it looked like today.

  • Up before the sun.  Kid hears me getting ready and wakes up crying that I’m leaving…even though I am coming back later today.  Logic doesn’t help at 5:30AM.
  • Running late because of trying to make the kid feel better.  Now running more late because I somehow missed the turn into the parking garage.
  • Sun is up.  Kind of pretty, but when did the sun starting coming up at 6AM?


  • Thank goodness for PreCheck – made it to the gate just as boarding starts.
  • DIRECTV!  United may not have many planes with WiFi, but I get hours of un-interupted junk TV time!  That never never happens at home.  Bonus points since Juno was on!


  • Amazing views.  I may not get to really experience Boston today, but I can’t wait for a real trip in the future.



  • When in Boston, eat a lobster roll…even if it is at the airport.  Mileage runs aren’t exactly good for a healthy lifestyle…


  • TSA moment of silence to honor Gerardo Hernandez who was shot and killed exactly a week ago at LAX.  I just happened to be walking by the screening area in Boston at the appointed time and was stopped in my tracks by the silence.
  • Shop for a toy in the airport.  Especially with a delayed flight, I better not even consider coming home empty handed.


  • United Club time.  This is the first United Club I have ever been to that has a help yourself soda can area!  Again, mileage running is not good for a healthy lifestyle.  There is a really nice staff in the Boston Terminal C United Club   Plus, the complimentary beers on tap are still ones you might want to drink (Sam Adams and Heineken).  In Houston I think it is Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft.


  • Yay, the upgrade for the flight home cleared – I guess everyone else has switched off that flight because of the pretty long delay!
  • Starting talking miles and points with a man on the shuttle between terminals and while he was a United elite who loved redeeming miles for him and his wife to travel internationally in first or business class, he hadn’t heard of the February 1st devaluation.  Hopefully I helped him squeeze a little more value out of the existing award chart before it’s too late!
  • Still waiting for the flight home as I write this, but hopefully it will not be further delayed and will be totally uneventful so that I’ll be back with my family soon, which for tonight absolutely wins over a night out in Boston.


If you have ever wondered what a mileage run looks like these days, now you are all caught up.  If you haven’t done one, you are likely smarter than me.  If you do them all the time, well, I hope you don’t have a three year old at home who is crying missing you.  I also hope you bring home lots of books and toys.

Have a great Friday night – I hope you spend it doing something more productive than flying in circles!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. 500 mile minimums are this mileage runners best friend. Got to love the LAX-CLD 15 minute flight (plus CLD has probably the best airport staff of any airport I’ve been to!)

  2. Enough of the apologies already. This is not only totally reasonable, it’s not even a mileage run. Mileage running is taking a series of low cost flights to accumulate more miles.
    This is a Status Run, netting you 1K. It would not be silly to miss 1K by such a small amount, it would be utterly foolish. Perhaps bad enough to get your blog shut down by the Travel Hackers Guild. 😉

    Yes, it’s sad that your daughter has to miss you for a few hours. But that’s really a small price for each of you to pay for those flat “beds” to Paris and back.
    Good for you for doing this. I just wish I could have joined you for a lobster roll. I used to live in Boston, and I know how really yummy they can be.

  3. Hope you make 1K, but be prepared to be sorely disappointed on the usefulness of the Global Premiere Upgrades (like I was).

    They are only eligible on MUCH more expensive fares than what automatically pop up on United’s site. The normal $700 fare to Europe is NOT eligible for the GPU usage. You’re going to have to pay for the nonrestricted economy rate, which is usually about double, to get the “free” upgrade. It’s a crock. They are absolutely not “free” global upgrades.

  4. Dang Mommy! I’m 15 minutes from Logan and could have met u for a drink. It was a slow day. Oh well, maybe next time!

  5. Love Boston!!!! Lived in New England for many years and it is my favorite place in the US. Go Red Sox!!!! 🙂

    Changing subjects, you mentioned TSA PreCheck and I am struggling to understand what is going on in my boarding passes. I have Global Entry and have always been TSA PreCheck approved until 3 weeks ago when I flew 3 round trips and the PreCheck does not appear in my boarding pass anymore. Any idea what may have happened?

  6. trajan, indeed! I rarely benefit from the 500 mile minimum, but it sure is nice!
    Calvin, indeed! It was really pretty good, but it sure wasn’t cheap. 😉
    Stephen, totally agree. Can’t wait to do a real trip.
    Robert, would have loved for you to join for a lobster roll! I don’t mean to sound apologetic for doing a MR, I just want to be clear that even I think mileage running is a bit insane…even if it does make sense in some situations.
    Been There Done That, oh I know. But, if you value your miles between 1.5 – 2 cents, it is still a better value than redeeming them for the same flight to Europe. Would be nice if UA treated SWUs more like AA does!
    Mike, vacation runs are awesome! Speaking of beachy, we have a vacation run to St. Thomas!
    Whiskarina, that would have been awesome! Had my flight not been delayed I would have had less than an hour so I didn’t hollar, but should have when I found out about the delay. Next time!
    Michelle, that is so weird. I asked in both Boston United Clubs today and both told me that Heineken and Sam Adams were on the free list. Maybe it was free beer today? 😉
    Santastico, there was Red Sox stuff all over the airport! With PreCheck your name needs to match exactly what is in GOES, so maybe that is it? Did it get deleted from your frequent flyer profile? Did you switch airlines? If it is neither of those things I don’t know what to say!

  7. Supposed to take the 2.5 yr old boy and the wife to fly to Boston this morning for a weekend vacation, but the wife got sick and had to cancel the trip last minute. Fortunately, cancellation costs only $5 per person and nothing else. Guess which FF program I used to book the tickets? Something I learned from Mommy Points blog =)

  8. Like you, I’m not a mileage runner. I think that if you don’t fly enough to earn the status then you don’t fly enough to need it, either.

    That said, obviously if I’m ever in a situation where I’m two or three thousand short of re-qualifying then that’s a no brainer — like you did and like I’ve done only once before (I had already re-qualified, but wanted the over-and-above AA Elite Rewards). But there are people on Twitter that seem to ONLY fly for the sake of qualifying. That’s pretty stupid in my book. If every (or every other) trip you take is to take advantage of a deal in order to qualify, then what exactly are you qualifying for?

  9. Wow, I’m living in the Bizarro-version of your world. I am doing a mileage run from Boston to Texas (DFW), for top status on AA not UA, and am enjoying tex-mex food at the Centurion Lounge (oh, and I’m deathly allergic to lobster). And finally, my name is Juno, which is not a name typically mentioned in blog posts. I do hope the upgrade for my flight home clears, though, like yours did!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *