I genuinely enjoy hunting mileage runs our readers. (There’s an adage that booking travel can be more fun than actually taking the trips.) Honestly, I get excited when I post mileage runs! Even if I don’t take the trip, I know others will — and love living vicariously through them. 🙂
We’re getting to the time of year when many people seek last-minute mileage runs to keep, upgrade, or earn airline elite status.
Complicating matters for some was Delta Air Lines making wholesale changes to its Medallion program — and then making more updates a few weeks later. (Delta’s handed all of us SkyMiles members a dizzying end of 2023, right?)
What’s a “Good” Mileage Run?
This is so subjective. I’m sure it’ll spark debate on social media, the Comments section, and meet-up groups. 🙂
We focus on Delta runs 99.9% of the time (other airlines and alliances — stick with me for a few minutes. We can discuss your needs, too.). Given that Million Milers suddenly got a huge jolt next year, MQM runs are suddenly back in the game for many.
Preface: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
Airlines know there are people thirsty for status right about now. Plus, the fall and winter holiday travel season is just a few weeks away. (We have four weeks and change until Thanksgiving, my friend.)
Spoiler alert: this happens every year.
Complicating matters is that airline ticket prices are outpacing inflation. Combine all three of those and it makes things a little more difficult for us to find outstanding deals — though we occasionally find them.
We use a couple of metrics when determining whether a mileage run (or status run) is worth publishing. One is “CPM” or “Cost Per Mile.” It’s really “Cost Per Medallion Qualification Mile” when talking about Delta.
This is a formula of total cost ÷ MQM earned.
During most of the year, we usually don’t get out of bed for any Main Cabin/coach runs much higher than five cents per mile (5 CPM). We usually cap First Class runs at around 8 CPM.
Through the rest of this year, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for:
- Main Cabin: 6-ish CPM and lower
- First Class: 12 CPM and lower
If you’re unfamiliar with how Delta partner MQD trips work, please read this primer first.
Starting next year, Delta is reducing the MQD earnings on its partner trips. (Booo!)
We generally like trips yielding at least 3X MQD for our investments. For example, a trip costing $1,000 but earning $3,000 MQD starts giving us butterflies.
But that’s during the first 9-ish months of the year.
For the rest of 2023, we’ll look out for trips in the 2.5X and higher range. (Given that Delta and Amex are willing to spot certain cardholders up to $10,000 MQD — starting next February — MQD runs will be especially advantageous next year, too!)
”Can Eye of the Flyer Create a Mileage Run for Me?”
I wish I had the time! In addition to writing and managing the blog, I work a couple of other jobs.
But you’re in luck.
There is actually a Mileage Run Department at a company called point.me who will create a mileage run for you.
Yes. People do this for a living.
Delta, American, United, whatever. They’re fluent in each and happy to help you. They’ll tailor a trip based on your needs, dates, home airport, etc. They also help with schedule changes, hotel bookings, and all that other stuff. They’re also versed in loyalty programs that might help knock down your costs.
Plus, I just publish whatever I can find on publicly available sites. Our friends at point.me are mileage run magicians. One of my all-time favorite quotes on this blog comes from point.me’s Miles Jackson. He once told us that “point.me can create crazy routes that are ‘legal’ with the airlines, but won’t ever be displayed on an online travel agency’s booking engine.”
point.me can dig in and find some pretty decent stuff. For example, a reader emailed me Friday and was elated with the mileage run (turned into a mini-vacation!) that point.me found him. The MQD earnings, destination, and experience were all very good.
“How Do I Know When You Publish Mileage Runs?”
There are several ways to learn when we post mileage runs.
- Join our mailing list
- Follow us on Twitter or X (or whatever)
- Follow us on Facebook
- Add our feed to your RSS reader
If you see a mileage run you like, book it ASAP. Inventory can be limited. Plus, airlines read the blog. (Trust me.) They sometimes kill deals minutes after we post them. Don’t dawdle.
It’s that time of the year: mileage run for status! Keep in mind prices usually climb because of the holidays. There are also people chasing status. We’ll post what we can — but remember that the MQM and MQD returns might not be fantastic, though that’s standard for Q4.
Don’t wait for us to find a unicorn mileage run from your home airport. Get in touch with point.me if you need something specific!
Eye of the Flyer earns a nominal commission for qualified referrals to point.me.
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