Wired has a great article up on their website called We Love to Fly and It Shows: Inside the World of Mileage Running. They gave writer Dave Demerjian $500 to stretch into as many free miles as possible using the least amount of money. The results?
“I’ll leave Boston on a Tuesday at 6 a.m. and arrive in Las Vegas 13 hours later, making stops in Washington D.C., San Diego and San Francisco. After a six-hour layover in the City of Sin, I’ll board the midnight red-eye for Chicago, then fly back through Washington D.C. before finally arriving in Boston at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. [... M]y run will yield 6,356. And the whole thing costs just $275.80.”
Flying for the sake of generating frequent flier miles –I love it. But what’s the point? On one hand, it’s a way to generate free tickets and maintain “elite” status among the airlines, which often yields first-class options and upgrades. On the other hand, it’s a puzzle — a game. “Assembling a mileage run means deciphering complex fare rules and pulling together information from up to a dozen websites,” notes Demerjian. “It’s an achievement that tickles the same satisfying problem-solving centers of the brain as a Sudoku puzzle, and always ends in the deep-rooted human thrills of travel and flight.”
Even if you don’t want to be an airline hacker yourself, the article offers up plenty of tips on how you can hunt down the cheapest deals on flights using a myriad of online tools. Have a look.