Mileage running is really not a sport for your average traveler. Doing a mileage run without “status” is an even more arduous task, since you have to put up with a host of crappy things in chasing your miles, that your “status” would help you to avoid:
- Terrible seats or no prior seat selection : Using a site like SeatGuru is amazing because you can figure out which seat has the most legroom and space. If you have “status”, then all the seat are available at your disposal (not the first class seats … obviously). Mileage running without advance seat selection is like going to a restaurant and eating whatever is put in front of you – it could be good, but more often than not, it is going to be terrible.
- No advance boarding : If you are taking carry-on luggage, you normally have to pack it in the overhead compartments. For example,on a full segment from Santa Ana to Newark, the entire plane was packed and there was no space for carry-on luggage (thankfully I had found space at the front of the plane even though my seat was in the back)
- Paying for luggage : “Status” usually entails some free luggage. Without it, be prepared to pay at least $25 for your first bag and give up your second child to check in a second bag.
Mileage running also require having some patience for the best deal to come to you, it’s always possible to find the second best deal – or the best PPM on the current market. One tool I used from checking the travel forums is Farecompare (FC). You can either go to the destination maps, plug in your home airport and find the place that’s furthest from you for the cheapest price, or you can use this nifty tool that FC created (plug in your home airport like YYZ for Toronto). This makes it easy to sort the list of fares by PPM; if you don’t find a fare or carrier that suits your needs, just scroll down and find somewhere that sounds appetizing.
As for the map of this week’s mileage run – definitely criss-crossing the US.