Does it make sense to do mileage runs to earn airline status in 2018? When we talk about mileage runs, we're talking about status and not racking up miles.
The main benefits of having airline status are:
1. Free checked bags
2. Priority boarding
3. Free upgrades when available
If you're someone that isn't loyal to one airline, then doing a mileage run doesn't make sense. You have to fly on one airline a lot to earn status.
If you're only one trip or flight away from getting airline status, then this post is for you.
Free checked bags
Depending on the airline you fly, the free checked bag benefit can add up, especially if you're a frequent flyer. My friends usually go skiing during the winter time, so saving on checked bags is valuable for them.
A free checked bag can range from $25-$100 in value each flight, depending on the airline.
The benefit of priority boarding is that you don't have to worry about running out of overhead bin space. There are also shorter wait times to board the plane.
Priority boarding is valuable to me because I usually bring a carry-on instead of checking-in a bag.
Free upgrades when available
Seat upgrades vary depending on the airport you're flying out of, the timing of the flight, and availability.
Certain airline routes also have rules where upgrades may not be available, always check with the airline to see if this applies to your route.
The day of the week you choose to fly also plays a big role. Mondays are usually packed, and the middle of the week tends to have more availability.
If you're based out of an airline hub, then you might have a less chance of getting upgraded. For example, SFO is a United hub with lots of people flying for business. Frequent fliers who take multiple trips a week most likely have the highest tier status available, and they will always have priority for free upgrades.
On the other hand, if you have Delta status at SFO, then there might be availability because it's not a Delta hub.
The optimal strategy for getting free upgrades is to fly during off-peak days of the week and to earn status at the airline that's not a hub at your airport.
Another strategy is to get an airline credit card, like the Delta Gold, that gives you the same perks as having airline status like a free checked bag and priority boarding.