Mileage Runs – essential or foolhardy ?

Anyone who has either travelled extensively or seen the film ‘Up In The Air’ will understand that when it comes to airline travel status is everything.

It is hard-won and essential. It is the difference between travel hell and travel heaven. Despite the airline management’s aim to blur that divide. Here I am looking towards April 7th with a not inconsiderable shortfall on British Airways to retain Gold Status. It’s that Gold Status that allows me the pick of any seat in the cabin I desire the minute I book the ticket – for example 1C my favourite domestic seat which I am sitting in now as I write this. That same status allows me to use the First Class Lounges and avoid the masses using the Galleries Lounge. And sometimes, and only sometimes, it’s that status which can catapult me one and on a few occasions two cabin classes.

But it’s also the status that means, when things go wrong I will be looked after. And that’s why I enjoy travel. Largely it is trouble free.

My most extreme mileage run, to date, was around 7 years ago. I slightly reduced travel schedule meant that I was facing the downgrade from Platinum to Gold on Continental. I dismissed this as being something I could hack.

Only doubts started to surface on the 21st of December (the frequent flyer program run on a calendar year). I lay on the sofa late one night in my downtown NYC apartment with my laptop propped open trying to find a way, anyway to close the gap.

I found it late that Friday night a Y Class, automatically upgradeable flight from EWR to SFO and H Class return. It would just take me over the edge. I booked it and both legs automatically went First Class.

I told no one. Next morning I left the apartment at 5am. Took off in 1A at 7am. Landed in SFO at 9.20am. Got off plane, bought a magazine. Got back on plane. Sat in same seat which was still warm from my own backside. Landed at EWR just after 6pm and was home by 7pm. I went out that night and dodged all questions as to why my phone had been switched off all day.

And was it worth it ?

Hell yeah ! First business flight of the year was a $270 return ticket from EWR to PHX with a redeye on the return. Upgrade to First Class both ways.

And it sealed my relationship with Continental. I ended up flying a million miles and even though I don’t fly them much at the moment I am Silver for life.

So going on past behaviour it looks like I will be going for Gold these next few months. Proof that the airlines were no fools when they dreamt up the schemes – take a bow American Airlines !

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