Depending on my personal and business trips during the course of a year, I sometimes must fly unnecessary flights simply to retain my status. Again, this year I must status run for United 1K.
Year to Date
Other frequent flyers crisscrossing the globe will laugh at my feeble numbers while some who struggle to achieve spend as leisure flyers may be jealous of my problem. My flights are expensive but short, usually, just 1,000 miles to and from Houston at a cost of $272 in net airfare costs each segment.
This leaves me with a unique problem and one I still don’t fully grasp. If United (and the others) have emphasized that cash spent on the carrier is key and that highly frequent flyers, but low spenders (regardless of whether the airline prices the flights cheaply) need not apply, then why do flyers like me who will exceed the requirement still need to fly the segments or miles?
Where I Will End
My current trend line has me ending the year with the following United stats:
- $15,651 PQDs
- 60 segments
- 59,079 PQMs
By flying I should really be United Mileage Plus Gold, but by spending, I should be a 1K. As such, I’m not content to lower myself several pegs down the upgrade list simply because I haven’t flown the distance.
There is a possibility I could end slightly higher than these forecasted stats, but I am unlikely to exceed my current run rate by more than 25% leaving me short of 100,000 miles by about 30,000.
What Is A Good Status Run?
The idea of a status run is to complete your trip to qualify or re-qualify for the least amount of money and effort possible. In the past, flights from North America to Asia have been the best way to do this. In the days where I was an American Airlines Executive Platinum and my upgrades (eVIPs) still cleared, I would fly mostly to Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Bangkok in coach and clear to a premium cabin for just a few hundred dollars.
Asia still makes the most sense but instead of two exhausting runs to Asia and a quick return back, I now focus on finding a trip that earns just enough (miles, dollars or both) in a premium cabin with premium cabin bonuses and a slightly longer turn so that I don’t hate my life when I return to work.
Only United ticketed flights (tickets that start with 016) work for this purpose but in the past, I have targeted codeshare joint venture routes with ANA or Polaris because of the enhanced experience. Matthew remains impressed by United’s shoulder-crushing 8-across business class 777-200s; I am not.
Is It Worth It?
Domestic upgrades are important to me. Added space gives me room to work, provides me some semblance of a meal from time to time when my schedule is tight though lately, they have been slipping in this department. I tend to save my RPUs because I tend to clear domestically and in the cases where I do not, they usually aren’t mission critical for me.
Elevated mileage earning adds to my value but for me, the most important aspect of United 1K status is the flexibility it gives me to move flights (American has made this really difficult), re-route as necessary, but most importantly, getting moved to the front of the line for service is valuable to me. While I don’t really want to spend any money that I don’t have to (I have some vouchers to offset the charges) nor take a trip I don’t need to, it still makes more sense to run than to sink two tiers down.
This year, more than any other, I don’t really have the time to status run. Further, I don’t need to run for both PQDs and PQMs, rather just one of the two and that makes it feel like less value for money for me. I’m not happy about it, but I am rather certain I will need to run again and based on the number of miles required, I will likely return to Asia.
What about you? Do you have to status run to maintain your airline elite status? Any sweet spot routes for United given my current situation? What about hotel status?