Gadling’s guide to mileage running — Elite status and frequent flyer tiers page 2

You can also earn elite status by flying a certain number of segments. In another example, if you have frequent business between Minneapolis, MN and Saint Louis, MO, each flight on United Airlines earns you two segments: MSP-ORD and ORD-STL. After taking that flight a few weeks in a row, you’ll start to accumulate some serious segments. Usually these tiers are at multiples of 25 segments, but you’ll have to check with your favorite carrier for specifics.

As a result, if you look at your miles or segments balance near the end of the year and you’ve earned almost enough miles or so along the way, it may be worth it for you to schlep around and earn another 5k to bump you up to the next tier. Usually, your status lasts through at least the next calendar year; the platinum status that I’ve earned on NWA lasts until February of 2009.

Why not just take the money I spent on a mileage run to book the ticket that I would use miles to book later? Well, for a couple of reasons. To begin with, one of the few areas in which miles are advantageous to use is in the short term. Ticket prices usually drastically rise in the last two weeks prior to booking. Award tickets, however, usually don’t. So one can book a last second ticket out for the weekend on Thursday and still pay the 25k award fee.

Another reason is because the benefits go beyond simply miles. Elite status, first class upgrades, bump vouchers and airline debauch await anyone willing to go on a mileage run. Part of the whole beauty of mileage running is the logistical bonanza that comes with any booking. It’s part of the fun.

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