Saturday, February 23, 2013

First Mileage Run of the Year

Even though I broke up with United and don't fly them anymore for business or with my family, I've still made it a goal to make Million Miler. Why? Well, I'm still relatively young and I figured if I'm this close (at around 800,000 lifetime miles), getting lifetime Premier Gold status is definitely something that I still want to do. Who knows, maybe one of these days United will stop sucking and we'll fly with them again. Until means a I'm doing a whole lot more mileage running, by myself.

Without the 4 trips to Hawaii we routinely fly with them each year, that's almost 25,000 more miles that I need to make up in order to keep my status. When I originally decided to go for Million Miler a while back, I decided to go all out- just a few years of 1K (100,000 miles per year) and I'd be there. Last year I fell a little bit short and settled for Platinum (75,000 miles) after running for about 50,000 of those miles. I made a couple of trips to New York, one to Orlando, Kansas City, Portland, Albuquerque, Manila, Des Moines...all for no other reason than to earn miles, gain status, and get closer to becoming a Million Miler. This year, if I'm going to still meet my goal, I'll be doubling that.

It's an ambitious task, and let's just say until now, I haven't quite been on top of it. I've been busy skiing, traveling on other airlines, and imagine this...flying to places where I actually want to go! Until yesterday I was yet to complete, book, or even really look for a mileage run in 2013. Anyway, enough's time to get back to work!

A while ago I wrote a how-to and blogged about the method I use to go about searching for and booking mileage runs. It can be a time consuming process and the hardest part is often finding where I want to go. Luckily this time, twitter made it easy!

New York it is!...and LGA too. I haven't been there yet. My trips last year were all to JFK and EWR. With a lot of the guesswork taken out of the equation, I turned to one of my favorite tools to start looking for dates. When I normally do transcontinental mileage runs from the West Coast, I like to enter specific airports to try and force a red-eye on the eastbound so I can do a same day turn thus minimizing time away from home and eliminating the added expense of having to get a hotel room. For a typical run like this I would enter "SFO,LAX" in the advanced routing code section to force a stop on there (and an extra 500 mile segment from SMF), then a space followed by "IAD,CLE,ORD". This will ensure 2 layovers/3 segments, and give me pretty good chance of getting a eastbound red-eye flight long enough to sleep on (for example SFO-CLE or LAX-IAD). On the way back I always like to throw IAH in mix, because if you look on a map, Houston is not really on the way to or from anywhere...more miles. This time I didn't bother with any of that and just entered "UA UA UA" simply meaning "give me 3 United segments". I thought it would be fun to  let the computer decide where I was going to go. It came up with a ton of availability over the next few months and a whole world of possibilities (some of which I never thought of) of how to get between Sacramento and New York. The fare was about $240 after taxes for the additional segments with some routes yielding as many as 7800 miles (counting 500-mile minimums). At around $.03 per mile, that is a great deal!
Telling ITA that I want 3 segments on United
I reserved one that I liked (through IAH,CLE,ORD and LAX) for mid-May. I wanted to play around with the schedules a bit more for the others and I figured I'd come back later in the evening and lock down more. Next thing you know, I got busy doing something else and within a matter of hours, the same G-class fares I had looked at jumped about $60. The moral of the story is, if you ever see something you like, book it immediately (or tell United you want to book it later over the phone- and yes that trick still works) and ask questions later! Either way, you always have 24 hours to cancel any purchases should you change your mind. I should have known better. Oh well, I guess the good news is that I have at least have mileage run booked for 2013. It's a start! Now all I need is about 12 more. Stay tuned...

For anyone still interested in the SMF-LGA (or also SJC-LGA) fares, they are still available but now starting at $298. Throw a couple of stops in there and it is still possible to come out at less than $.04 per mile; that's still a pretty good deal!


  1. If you actually have any time on the ground here in NYC, definitely let me know!

  2. I will! Same goes if you ever make it out here to SacTown! :)