Mileage runs were the hallmark of travel enthusiasts who found more to gain from unnecessary trips than not taking them. Elite status runs have the same principle but different result, taking unnecessary trips to retain or “level up” your status with an airline. While mileage running might be dead, status running is not.
Not Mileage Running, Status Running
In the old days (three years ago) top-tier elite status could be achieved for dedicated enthusiasts at under $2500 without mistake fares coming into play. How? Competitive long-haul markets competed for customer business (like China, Southeast Asia, and Hong Kong) with $500 fares in coach and full status and mileage earning for miles flown. I qualified several times this way with rough rides across the Pacific and desperate hopes for systemwide upgrades. For $2500 a returning elite flyer could net 100,000 EQMs (elite-qualifying miles), 200,000 RDMs (redeemable miles). For many, the elite status was more of a nice-to-have while the miles they earned (at the time that was enough for two business class tickets to Europe or almost enough for Asia) – it was just good economic sense for families like mine.
Those days are gone, and for the most part, they are not coming back.
However, while the mileage run might be dead, the status run is alive and well. Customers like myself may find themselves short on either dollars or miles (in my case a little of both) and need to make a run to ensure that status continues next year as well. That was the case for me, and I chose to fly to Hong Kong in Polaris business class from Philadelphia via Washington Dulles and San Francisco. I chose Business Class for two reasons. First, it earns faster reducing the number of trips of this sort I would need to make. Second, even though it’s not necessarily cheaper, it’s not (by comparison) much more expensive on a per status mile earned basis and allows me to ride in comfort. I’m not as young as I used to be and long-haul coach may make status not worth maintaining.
As a result of this run, I am on pace for premier-qualifying dollar requalification of 1K status though I may need to make a brief distance run to shore up the shortcomings of their 100,000-mile requirement. I am on the road a lot and often for expensive tickets as a result of work travel, they just aren’t long distance creating a deficit.
My trip report will be broken into a number of smaller posts. This might not be as extensive as Matthew or Lucky’s multi-country but there were quite a few posts that will be relevant for our readers.
- Status Running
- United’s Polaris Lounge San Francisco
- Polaris Business Class Service San Francisco to Hong Kong
- Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui – Suite
- Hyatt Regency Sha Tin – Suite
- Shenzhen Day Trip
- Too Much Traveling
- Singapore’s Bad Hong Kong lounge
- ANA Business Class Hong Kong Tokyo
- ANA Haneda Lounge Review
- ANA Business Class Tokyo-Haneda to Chicago O’Hare
Highlights of the Status Run
Let’s do this in picture form. Here are some images that highlight my trip and what you should expect coming from the trip report.
Status runs are getting old and while mileage runs always seemed to be fun and profitable, status runs feel less so. I know that Sriram from Travel Codex has long been a proponent of loyalty-free travel especially when it comes to hotels and politely admonishes me for my dedication. After this year, I am starting to see his point.
Do you still mileage run or status run? Why do you run or how do you aim for re-qualification if close but not quite re-qualified?