The Two Biggest Obstacles to a Great Mileage Run and Award Ticket Bookings

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A Guest Post by John @laptoptravel

The Two Biggest Obstacles to Mileage Run Deals and Award Space Bookings

In November of this past year, I wrote an article entitled “Why You Should Consider a Mileage Run Booked by a Professional.” In that article I put forth the various reasons why you should let a professional do the work for you; perhaps the greatest reason is that we (since I am a professional booker) keep working while you do not.

We have the tools, the experience, and the financial incentive to persevere when you simply are overwhelmed or otherwise unable to work diligently on finding that perfect Mileage Run (or award booking for other clients.)

But let us suppose you have committed to doing it yourself; you want to save the few dollars you might pay a professional travel booker and you feel confident you know what you are doing. Then let me continue, as Paul Harvey might say, with ‘the rest of the story.’

There are two huge obstacles to every Mileage Run. In my article I spoke of the first – Procrastination!

“Let’s just admit the fact; people are natural procrastinators. It is not that anyone plans to NOT get things done on time…it’s just that life gets in the way.  Every person has work, family and personal demands on their lives. Then sometimes unforeseen events simply take the best laid plans and throw everything into a kilter.”

Procrastination kills great Mileage Run deals by the fact that often a Mileage Run fare, an error fare, a mistake fare and even great award ticket space availability disappears shortly after discovered. Time simply runs against your interests and when these are posted everyone races to the well and takes from it until it is dry!

Houston IAH to Amsterdam AMS Aeromexico Mileage Run Fall 2016 laptoptravel

My Cheapest Mileage Run Deal in 2016

If I had procrastinated this past year I would have missed out on my amazing $169 roundtrip Houston to Amsterdam (via Mexico City) SkyTeam fare and I would have watched my $379 Seattle to Brussels (via JFK) trip disappear in a fleeting moment. [By the way, I am using Brussels as a springboard for deeper European vacationing.]

Seattle SEA - Brussels BRU Delta laptoptravel Mileage Run March 2017

$397 Delta Air Lines Roundtrip to Europe

What other great fares have you seen pass through your email, Twitter and fare alerts only later to say “I wish I had…” René could not have gotten his Million Miler flight on the Boeing 747 for the same timing and price if he had procrastinated from the just over $400 Delta fare from Chicago to Tokyo.

RenesPoints-Delta-Million-Miler-flight-3

René’s Million Miler Flight – Cool shot right?

I am here to tell you, yes you should have. Do not procrastinate! If you are buying airline tickets in the United States you have until midnight the day following your purchase to cancel your paid ticket in most circumstances; check the cancellation rules where you purchase your ticket. However this is a pretty safe rule in most instances. If you find that perfect award space, some airlines will allow their elite members to cancel and redeposit their miles used on a cancelled award booking  free of charge! For example, Delta provides this benefit to Platinum and Diamond Medallion members (but any cancellation must be done prior to 72 hours of scheduled departure.) This also applies to upgrades obtained by using miles. You can read the full terms here.

Taking advantage of the cancellation rules you should book an unbelievable deal when you find it; then once you have secured it start to look at the logistics of taking the trip. Look at re-positioning flights to the destination airport, if needed. I next begin looking at the destination if I am planning to stay any length of time. Look for lodging; maybe think outside of the box. Perhaps Airbnb is an option. I used them on my recent Mileage Run trip to Aruba and had a two bedroom house with security entrance right off a main access road close to beaches, restaurants and the airport for $55/night.

Also, if you cannot make the deal work then cancel it; no harm done. It at least is good exercise and practice when that perfect deal does comes along.

The second greatest obstacle to Mileage Runs (and great Award Space) is distraction. This sort of plays off procrastination in that you fail to purchase a fare (or book your award tickets) for the simple (and very common) perception that something even better will come along.

How do I deal with that? Take some practical advice from my own example I will share.  When I first discovered the $169 roundtrip Houston to Amsterdam fare deal it was not $169; nope it started at $279. Here was my strategy:

First, I thought $279 was a great deal for earning 12,984 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM’s), but could I do better? Perhaps. So I bought the $279 and then (instead of taking my own earlier posted advice to work out the logistics) I began to tweak the dates. I was able to find a $249 fare for similar dates. I booked it and cancelled the first. Next, I began to fiddle more with the flights and dates again and got the fare down to $229 and so what did I do? Of course I booked that one and cancelled the previous. I continued to work these dates out and eventually found the $169 great deal. Of course I booked that fare and cancelled the prior one.

A total of four booked tickets which eventually became the one Houston to Mexico City to Amsterdam (on Aeromexico’s B787 Dreamliner) and back for $169.

Distraction might make you think you can do better, or wait until that perfect deal comes along, but what I am recommending (and what I showed in my own personal example above) is to buy first; then look at the distractions. Maybe you found a great deal to Madrid, but you really wanted Barcelona. Madrid probably gets you 95% of the way to Barcelona; figure it out from there. Perhaps you wanted a beach resort in Bali but you found a fantastic deal to London; maybe you can re-adjust your bucket list. Often I travel to destinations I have not planned; I simply follow the deals. It is sort of making lemonade out of lemons, but in reality I am getting a great trip and earning elite miles in the process.

In our daily lives we have so many things competing for our attention; distractions in travel deals bombard us from all sides. Perhaps you see a $140 roundtrip fare to Phnom Penh but in reality you have no interest in going to Cambodia; simply delete the email, tailor your alerts and feeds or simply ignore those deals which you really do not want to do. Focus on the destinations which excite you!

After my advice, which is basically, avoid procrastination and distractions when searching for deals perhaps you want someone to do the heavy lifting for you. That is why you should follow a handful of fare alert sites or blogs if you still want to do it yourself. Deals are posted by Elite Mileage Runs and my own blog, laptoptravel; both are great places to follow. For quicker service, follow @RenesPoints and @laptoptravel on Twitter for immediate alerts! If you follow through our links and posts we typically provide an overview of the deal and some brief details to help you decide if it is right for you. Almost always we will provide direct booking links so purchasing of the deal is simply a few clicks.

Maybe some of you enjoy doing everything yourself and that is fine for a few. In comparison, though, I would say those who want to try and book their own Mileage Runs and award bookings (without help) are akin to folks who like representing themselves in court or performing their own root canals with a few crude tools. Sure it can be done; but I guarantee the time, pain and perhaps the cost, will overall be less with a professional performing the work.

Ancient Dentistry

If you decide to use a professional for helping you find that great (and elusive) award space for your aspirational trip or to help you nail down a 20-25K elite earnings mileage run then you can always turn to our good friend ADAM from Juicy Miles. Yes, I am on their team and with my 50+ years of experience traveling plus my own set of unique computer skills I find some amazing and creative Mileage Runs but there are more than thirty experts in all areas of travel and nuances of partnerships, alliances, tricks and techniques now on the Juicy Miles roster.

We work all hours of the day; often while you are sleeping. We are searching for amazing deals to reward you with cheap elite qualification miles to meet your targets. We do it for every airline; every program.  In fact, I have just begun to share my own tips and techniques in travel seminars (like the Chicago Seminars and upcoming this week at Frequent Traveler University sessions.)

Whatever you decide; if you want to perform your own work with just yourself have at it; follow the simple guidelines I have suggested and if you get overwhelmed or simply see it as a more productive use of your time and resources feel free to contact a professional booking service.

Regardless, the time is now to do something! We are seeing unbelievably cheap fares internationally and award space fills up quickly! A lot of seasoned travelers know to start early taking Mileage Runs and searching for award space.

Ask yourself; Does searching for Mileage Runs and Award Space wear you down mentally? Mahalo and Safe Travels…. John from laptoptravel

 

Why You Should Consider a Mileage Run Booked by a Professional

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016 A Guest Post by John @laptoptravel

costa-rica-mileage-run-laptoptravel

Click on Image to Enlarge

Let’s just admit the fact; we are all natural procrastinators. It is not that anyone plans to NOT get things done on time…it’s just that life gets in the way.  Every person has work, family and personal demands on their lives. Then sometimes unforeseen events simply take the best laid plans and throw everything into a kilter.

For all elites in the major airline programs there is an annual requirement to meet a specific segment or elite mileage qualification requirement to renew those statuses or to reach a new level. The end of each year, therefore, becomes a mad rush for many seeking to reach or renew an elite status with an airline (or any loyalty-based) program.

Every flyer should know that Mileage Runs are not dead!

A good start…you should read what I believe is the first article I ever wrote for RenesPoints blog more than a year ago:  Are Mileage Runs Still Worth It?

In fact, they are often cheaper than buying MQM’s from Delta, as René wrote a few weeks back:

“For the past four years Delta has, in November or December, offered the option for most elites to buy MQMs. While the prices have at times fluctuated depending on whom you are or how many points you had the max prices each year were:

$ 995 for 10,000 MQMs in 2012 or ~10 cent each

$1995 for 10,000 MQMs in 2013 or ~20 cents each

$2095 for 10,000 MQMs in 2014 or ~21 cents each

$2995 for 10,000 MQMs in 2015 or ~30 cents each
 
You can see a scary pattern going on here and one that I would think will continue this year, that is, 2016. While I have no confirmation that Delta will again sell MQMs, if they do, expect the price to go up yet again. How high can it really go and people still buy points I ask? My guess is this year will see a “modest” jump to $3095 for 10,000 MQMs (still a completely insane number).”

Mileage Runs are occasionally posted on the internet, and Elite Mileage Runs and my own blog laptoptravel are great places to follow. For quicker service, follow @EliteMileageRun as well as @laptoptravel on Twitter for immediate alerts!

costa-rica-mileage-run-laptoptravel

Crazy Cheap Mileage Run to Costa Rica

However, I find it necessary near the end of each year to post less of those as our team is working full-time finding Mileage Runs for clients and so we cannot ‘split the baby’ during these times.

As a professional mileage run and award travel booker (I currently work on staff at JuicyMiles) I always start off the new year by reaching out to our previous year’s clients reminding them to get started early with their status goals.  Personally, I do take my own advice.  In fact I renewed my Delta Diamond Medallion status in June of this year and now am able to ‘cherry pick’ the best deals out there and just earn extra Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM’s) for rollover.  By the middle of December this year I will be almost ready to rollover enough MQM’s for Diamond status in 2018 (good through February 2019.)

To my point of this post; perhaps you should consider using the services (and resources) of a Mileage Run service like Juicy Miles. The advantages are we have the experience, resources and commitment to find the best deals most efficiently.

We work all hours of the day, often while you are sleeping…. we are searching for amazing deals to reward you with cheap elite qualification miles to meet your targets. We do it for every airline; every program.  In fact, I have just begun to share my own tips and techniques in travel seminars (like the Chicago Seminars, and hopefully soon Frequent Traveler University sessions.)

Here is an example of my own personal commitment to your needs:

This past week, our internet service became unstable and practically useless as a result of continued rains.  It seems that squirrels had spent some of their time during the warmer, dryer summer days nibbling on Century Links’s transmission wires.  After a few days of prolonged rain the water seeped into these lines and rendered the system worthless.

Sure I spent a few extra hours at Starbucks and other sites for Wi-Fi service to continue working for clients and their Mileage Run requests. Over the weekend, however that became an impossible solution. With more than fifteen requests in my hand I relocated to a Doubletree (by Hilton) with premium internet service to handle my clients’ needs.

It was not all wonderful, though. In the middle of the first night (around 2am) we were evacuated from the hotel due to a false fire alarm and had to walk down ten flights of stairs…and I still kept working on client Mileage Runs upon my return to the room after the ‘all clear’ was sounded.

doubletree-laptoptravel-juicy-miles-mileage-run-weekend-evacuation

Relocated to Doubletree (and Got Evacuated) to Work on Clients” Mileage Run Requests

It is that type of dedication and relentless effort that you get when you hire Juicy Miles. That is just one benefit.  You get people who specialize in the special nuances of finding amazing deals, understand the fare classes, partner rules, upgrade potentials as well as award ticket options to make your next booking the best possible experience for you with the minimal amount of input and time.

year-end-mileage-runs-juicy-miles-laptoptravel-twitter

Recently I tweeted out the above

This is actually three tickets that cost a total of about $390 (plus a use of SkyMiles to re-position twice.)  The payoff is more than 32,000 MQM’s, that’s less than 1.2 Cents Per Mile (CPM.) Now this is a rare exception, so it is no promise of future results, but it illustrates the point; Professionals do perform better, on average, in finding you the best Mileage Run deals.

When it comes to award ticket bookings; well each one is a story within itself as well as a formidable job in most cases. Having someone who knows the rules and inner-workings between mileage programs and partners are priceless resources when you want to take that aspirational trip, to take that special someone…to take the family!

So two things to do now:

First, take an inventory of where you currently are in your airline program(s) and contact a Juicy Miles professional today to help you meet your goals. My suggestion? Do not delay! Do it today as the window of time (and opportunities) dwindles ever so quickly as the holiday travel season is upon us! Secondly, make a commitment to start out the New Year by getting a mileage run booker working for you when there is no time-crunch like you might be facing today!

If you like the idea of letting a professional do the work for you…try  JuicyMiles  and see what they can do for you. There’s no risk; you give them the parameters- the time frames, the airports and if they do not find anything that works there is no fee to you!

Thank you for reading the blog and I hope to see you at a seminar, or reader meet-up (Coming Soon) or always in the sky in the near future!  — John (@laptoptravel)

 

PS – Don’t forget about the AMAZING 70k SkyMiles plus 10K MQMs Delta AMEX card offer ending soon!