Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Tom, my friend and fellow travel enthusiast. I met Tom last year when he was visiting Berlin for the weekend. Tom doesn’t live in Germany, or even on the European continent. He lives on the east coast of the United States and hops on planes with the same ease as some people hop on the bus. Tom, my friends, is a mileage runner.
What on earth is a mileage runner? Let’s start from the beginning. A mileage run is typically an inexpensive trip that rewards the flyer a great amount of miles. A mileage runner is a
crazy motivated person who flies for the purpose of accruing airline miles which lead to higher frequent flyer status and tons of awesome perks. Airline perks include free upgrades (paying for an economy seat but flying business or first), access to swanky lounges across the globe, and not having to pay baggage fees!
Don’t get it twisted, although maintaining his elite airline status is a huge motivator, it’s not the only reason he flies. Tom is a travel junkie. His passion for travel and fascination with airplanes led Tom to study aerospace engineering in undergrad. For his MBA capstone project (the equivalent to a thesis in the business world) he presented a low-cost airline, called TomJet, that provided flights between North America, Asia and Australia via the Pacific. Tom first starting abusing air miles in 1985, when his grandmother put a United Mileage Plus card in his hand. “You alright, I learned it by watching you!” (5 points if you get that amazing 80′s reference.) His first flight was from Chicago to Honolulu, growing up he visited Hawaii often for amazing beach holidays.
Tom estimates that he has flown approximately 750,000 miles, to put that into perspective, it’s the equivalent of traveling around the world 30 times. On a recent mileage run he visited Singapore for a 4 days weekend! BANANAS! He flew 28 hours there, spent 36 hours on the ground, and 26 hours back. He got through the flights on 6 hour cycles of eating, boozing, movie watching and napping. Not a bad way to fly especially if you are in business. Mileage runners are known for arriving in airports and turning right back around. For Tom, it’s more about the experience and exploring new cities, even if it’s a short time. During his 36 hours in Singapore he saw the Botanical Garden, Harbor Front, and the top Mt. Farber. To ensure his muscle didn’t go into atrophy, he also hit the gym! (Seriously who does that?) At the end of his journey he saw an amazing city, ate great food and racked up 22,000 miles!
For aspiring mileage runners or people interested in cheap flights, Tom suggests:
- Signing up for a frequent flyer program. The miles add up eventually.
- Set up Fare Alerts on Orbitz for a couple of destinations you are considering. Watching for airfare can take weeks or months. Sites like Orbitz allow you to find a set of days with lower priced flights.
- Keep your eyes peeled for pricing errors. Occasionally airlines make mistakes and publish the wrong price for flights. Tom once found a flight from DC to San Diego listed for $137USD. It was suppose to be 1,370 USD. Score!
- Follow airlines on twitter and facebook. Airlines love to annouce very cheap tickets for limited times for loyal customers. Tom was able to find a flight from Maui for $200 roundtrip from Los Angeles.
- As a general rule if you have the flexibiltiy, look for flights departing and arriving on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, flights are usually cheaper those days
Thanks Tom for the great information and allowing me to share your story with my readers.
How many of you are signed up for a frequent flyer program? What perks have you enjoyed while traveling?
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