The Real Benefits of Mileage Runs

Apr 4, 2011

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I just completed my third European weekend long mileage run (taking a trip for the sake of miles) within the last four weeks and instead of being totally exhausted, I’m actually feeling refreshed and looking forward to my last run – Stockholm again this coming weekend. When evaluating the benefits of a mileage run, most experienced frequent flyers will calculate the CPM – cost per mile – by taking the price of the ticket and dividing it by the amount of elite qualifying miles you will earn. Good mileage runs are usually under 4 cents per elite qualifying mile. So yes, my Copenhagen trip was an amazing deal by these standards considering I earned nearly 8,000 elite miles and 17,700+ regular miles for $150 – a solid 1.8 CPM. However, I’ve found that there are many additional benefits to these trips that make them worthwhile for me. While I understand the need for a CPM rate so we can see which deals actually make sense in a noise-filled environment, I firmly believe there are other considerations you should take into account when deciding to travel on a good deal.

One of the main benefits of travel in general is the ability to meet new, interesting people. This past weekend’s trip was particularly good because I had the opportunity to meet a number of blog readers and fellow travel enthusiasts. While it is a potentially awkward situation to actually meet people who know you solely through how you present yourself in HTML, it was great because the love of travel has a unique ability to pull people together. And while travel is a great unifier, there’s something even more special about meeting fellow points and miles enthusiasts. I think it’s the fact that we all “get” what is so complicated to most people and we understand that sharing points knowledge and a passion for travel is the key to our mutual success. The generosity of people in the mileage world, whether through knowledge or other means, continues to blow me away. I remember when I first joined Flyertalk in 2005, US Airways was running a 50 Cent Flights promotion to celebrate the launch of their credit card. The trips were transferable so someone who won a Paris trip and couldn’t go gave me theirs. No money in return or favors asked – they simply gave me their code so I could book it for myself. I get email tips every day from people who only want others to take advantage of good deals and an incredibly generous blog reader recently offered me their free nomination to Royal Ambassador status with Intercontinental Hotels (which I will be writing about more in another post).

In addition to the pure miles and points knowledge gained from building your network of travel junkie friends, I personally love quick trips to new cities to take in the vibe and do some serious people watching. As a foodie, being able to experience new ingredients and cooking styles increasingly fascinates me and is becoming an even greater incentive to travel more (not that I need any more encouragement!)

To wrap up this post before the throes of jet-lag really set in, I’m not trying to brag about what a great deal I got or how many friends I have. The point I want to get across is that you should think about more than just cents per mile the next time you see a good deal on travel, or even a mistake fare. Try to think about the benefit of doing something that breaks up your daily routine and may allow you to meet new lifelong friends. Can you really put a price-tag on becoming a better traveler, building your network and earning a boatload of miles while you do it?

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