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TPG Twitter follower Audrey wants to reach the next level of elite status: “What’s the best way to find one-day fares to get those last few miles for the next status tier?” As November draws to a close and time winds down to qualify for 2014 elite status, Audrey asks a question on many of our minds. Although I don’t usually construct complicated mileage runs with cheap fares since I travel enough to qualify for elite status with my usual travel habits and then leverage that through status matches and challenges on other airlines, I do use several tools to find the lowest airfares without having to check airline by airline, and I’m hoping TPG readers will contribute their own ideas and resources. Here are the ones I use.
1. Farecompare. This site allows you to filter flight searches by city, price, alliance and cost per mile. Most mileage runners want 3 cents per elite mile, but that’s been pretty hard to get these days. Every person has a different calculator for elite status and the value of having status to a frequent flyer largely depends on how often the benefits are used. Unfortunately, many people will do anything to attain status, but barely get any use out of it.
2. Flyertalk Mileage Run forum can help you identify many mistake fares and overall good economy and business/first fares as well. I usually get in on amazing mistake fares a couple times a year. You need to act very quickly when you see these fares, especially since most airlines allow risk free 24 hour cancellations. 3. Many mileage professionals (myself included) leverage ITA software, which is the backbone of many online travel agencies and airline websites. ITA has the ability to find and price fares on almost every single airline and it displays the data in a user-friendly way. The thing to note is that you cannot purchase airfare directly from ITA – you then use an online booking site like Expedia or individual airline sites, which should replicate what you find and be able to ticket.
4. Travelocity Flexible Date Search. This allows you to search for the absolute lowest fares at any given time, so it often pays out.
For more on elite status and mileage runs, check out these posts: The Basics and Why People Mileage Run, Using ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights, How Much is Elite Status Worth?, Comparing Top Tier Status, Comparing Mid-Tier Status, Comparing Low Level Status, How to Get Elite Miles Without Flying, Understanding Elite Status Bump Thresholds, The Lowdown on Soft Landings, How to Cope with Losing Elite Status.