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What’s the Best Way to Find One-Day Fares to Qualify For the Next Level of Elite Status?

by on November 17, 2013 · 6 comments

in Elite Status, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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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.

FareCompare is a great tool for finding the lowest airfares.

FareCompare is a great tool for finding the lowest airfares.

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.

Travelocity can be clunky, but you can still find good deals.

Travelocity can be clunky, but you can still find good deals.

4. Travelocity Flexible Date Search. This allows you to search for the absolute lowest fares at any given time, so it often pays out.

5. Check out Airfarewatchdog.com and follow them on Twitter for breaking deals. They routinely post very good fares, so it’s a good idea to follow them.

For more on elite status and mileage runs, check out these posts:  The Basics and Why People Mileage RunUsing ITA Matrix to Find Cheap FlightsHow Much is Elite Status Worth?Comparing Top Tier StatusComparing Mid-Tier StatusComparing Low Level StatusHow to Get Elite Miles Without FlyingUnderstanding Elite Status Bump ThresholdsThe Lowdown on Soft LandingsHow to Cope with Losing Elite Status.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • kamancali

    great to the point summary with hyperkinks! I’m looking for WAS-AMS yet need 12k MQMs for delta gold by Dec31, so will be using all of the above!

  • James

    I fly Business or Full-fare economy. Does that mean I would need to fly 67,000 miles on AA in one calendar year to earn Executive Platinum?

  • TravelingWellForLess

    @James,

    If you’re buying Business or Full-fare economy on American, then you’d want to qualify for EXP based on points and not miles.

    Business and full-fare Y earn 1.5 points per mile. So if you’re flight is 5,000 miles then you’d earn 7,500 points.

    If you do fly 67k miles with American in Business or full-fare Y, you’d earn 100,500 points so you’d qualify as EXP.

    But again, you want to focus on points vs miles when paying for Business or full-fare Y.

    Here’s a link to American’s Elite qualification requirements http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/eliteStatus/qualification-requirements.jsp

  • Alon

    Q: Can i just buy a ticket, buy the premier qualify miles offered (United) and later cancel the ticket?

  • Jake from MSP

    Not sure when you last checked farecompare, but their flyertalk tool has been gone for over a year

  • Wes

    Try subscribing to an airlines RSS feed of flight deals. For example United publishes updates to their specials several times a day. You just scroll to the city you are flying out of and follow the link. https://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/deals/rss/default.aspx

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