You are beginning to understand the value of frequent flyer miles and are ready to take the next step which is attaining elite status with either an airline, hotel or both. This post will talk about airline elite status. Credit card signups are a great way to get free travel but along with free travel, you might want to get some status.
Status can get you many perks. Keep in mind that most airlines have three levels of elite status with the top level having the most perks. If you are a bottom level elite you will still have some perks but not the majority of them. For some it is worth it to try to get more miles under your belt to get all the perks particularly if you fly frequently.
Some of the more common perks are
* free checked bag
* free same day changes
*being able to pre-select preferred seats
*waived award fees
*mileage earning bonuses where you can increase your miles by a multiplier. These miles do not count toward status but do count as award miles toward free flights.
*a dedicated customer service line for elites only. This comes in handy when there are delays due to weather. Airlines want to keep their elites and want to keep them happy and they tend to get better help earlier than the general public.
*Upgrades to Business or First Class. Each airline has different rules and you need to know what the rules are for your airline.
There are more perks depending on the airline. Go to your airline’s website to see the complete list. Another resource is to go to Hack My Trip where Scott has created a side by side comparison of the three levels of airline status like this one:
Now that you know the perks of status, you are probably wondering how to get more miles to attain the status- simply it is your butt in a seat. That’s it pure and simple. But wait a minute, there’s more. In order to get your butt in a seat you can do a mileage run which is all about finding the cheapest flights that give you the most miles. It is a trip designed solely to earn miles or points. You may be flying so much over a weekend, or whenever you choose to fly, that you never leave the airport.
To do this, many in the frequent flyer community use the ITA matrix. This travel search tool is very similar to what the airlines, Orbitz, Travelocity and other travel search engines use. The only thing you can’t do is book tickets on this site. There are many tutorials out there that teach you the finer points of using this site. I went to one seminar where we were shown how to go from Point A to Point B using this site and what the ticket would cost. Then we added in another stop and the price didn’t change, or changed minimally, but the miles did – we got more and that’s the object.
Scott at Hack My Trip has this basic tutorial which many find very helpful. He also has this tutorial for more advance searches. Another Scott at Mile Value has this tutorial. This post on the Flyer Talk forum has these instructions for using ITA. Finally Glenn at the Military Frequent Flyer has these instructions. As you can see there are lots of resources to help you but you must look for them.
Some feel that they can do this in weekends by flying cross country. Others feel that they want to do it in a shorter time span and they will fly from the east coast to Asia or Australia. You do whatever works for you in the time period that you have as well as following the cheapest fares.
Look for more posts to come on tools for mileage running.
Now, I’m wondering if you have ever done a mileage run or known of someone who has? I’d love to hear of your experience.