How to Explain a Mileage Run to a Three Year Old

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Explaining things to three year olds is really pretty fun.  They are beautifully (mostly) innocent, literal, and inquisitive, so you have to be pretty clear when you explain things.  Usually I am trying to explain simple things like why you can leave your body on Earth when you go to Heaven, why daddy buys donuts even if they aren’t healthy, and why you have to be nice to someone even if they are mean and you don’t like them.  However, yesterday I had to explain something much more complicated…what is a mileage run.

I think we do a pretty good job of preparing our daughter for when we will be out of town, where we are going, what we are doing there, who will take care of her while we are gone, etc.  However, I waited until the day before today’s mileage run to tell her about it, partly because I wasn’t really going anywhere, and partly because I was dreading it myself.  Since I was going to be gone by the time she woke up, I had to tell her I would be gone, so I tried to explain where I was going, when I wasn’t really going anywhere at all.

Me:  Tomorrow when you wake up, mama’s going to be flying on a airplane.

C:  Why, where are you going?

Me:  Well, I’m not really going anywhere.  I’m flying because if you fly a certain amount in a year then the airline gives you…

C:  (Interrupting me mid-sentence) A TOY!

Me:  That would be really cool, but they don’t really give you a toy for flying a certain amount, but they do give you things like better seats on the airplane.

C:  (Said with a sly smile) Ohhhhh, the ones that turn into beds.

Me:  Yes, like the ones we are going to fly in to Paris!

C:  Since the seat is a bed on the way to Paris, does that mean I can bring a stuffy to sleep with?  Yes.

Mission accomplished!  I successfully explained a mileage run to a three year old and she got it.

Of course, I’m omitting the part where she ended up waking up way too early this morning crying because mommy was leaving.  The fact that I was coming back later today was of no comfort at 5:30AM, so I almost missed my flight stalling trying to calm her down.  I think this is my first (and hopefully last) true mileage run where the whole point of the flight is to earn elite qualifying miles to hit 1k with United.  This flying in circle stuff may marginally make sense in theory to my three year old, but it still barely makes sense to me. 

Now about that toy….



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  1. I saw your twitter post about Centurion lounge and must have been there a few mins after you posted it. Afterwards, I remembered seeing someone snapping pics of food and thinking how odd. Funny if that was you. Fries were awesome, I agree.

    Hit the lounge yesterday too and it was extremely crowded. They must have read your tweet. 🙂

    • bluecat, I’m sure I always look odd doing weird things like that. I was there Tuesday afternoon, so if you were there then it might have been me! Sorry I didn’t get to meet you in person.

  2. Well, this week I had to explain to my wife why I was not taking a direct flight home but rather getting a connection even if both flights had the same price 🙂 Worst part was that the flight was on Delta 🙁

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