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Rookie Wednesday – Overview & Mileage runs

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

The topic of this week’s post: The Mileage Run!

Q) What is a Mileage Run?
A) A Mileage Run, often referred to as MR here and on other places, is at it’s core flying somewhere for no other reason to collect either miles and or elite qualifying miles (called EQM’s on other airlines, MQM’s with Delta for Medallion qualifying miles).

Q) Why would anyone take an MR?
A) Since Elite status is a topic for another post, maybe next week, for now understand one of the main reasons for booking and flying a MR is to make it to some Elite level (called Medallion level with Delta).

Q) Are there other reasons for a MR?
A) You bet. Let’s say, for whatever reason, you have a voucher, often called an ETV or electronic travel voucher, from the airline. These tend to expire if not used in 12 months. So, it may be worth just flying some place rather than see it go into the trash. Another reason may be that a fare is so good you will “earn” so many Skymiles, often referred to as RDM’s or redeemable miles, that it is worth the trip. Or, it may be a combination of all of these that you say need 5000 more miles to be able to have enough miles to redeem your points for a trip someplace.

Q) What is a good price for an MR?
A) Oh what a question. This ranks up there with what is a “point” or “mile” worth or what is your time worth or on and on and on. I hope you clearly see this is an objective and personal topic. For most, a GREAT price is under 2CPM (cents per mile). A good price is 2-4CPM, a just OK price is 5-6CPM. Over 6 CPM and you should have a reason to fly other than just collecting points. Also, if you live in a hub city, you may have to put up with a higher CPM that others. Or, as I said, say you need points, and book a vacation since you need the points anyway. I booked a visit to see my mom in Sweden and paid 8CPM, but I get to see my mom! But, I did also use a $400 ETV so it did bring it down to a real cost out of pocket of 6CPM 🙂

Q) How do I find a MR?
A) If it were simple, everyone would do it right? FlyerTalk has a great MR thread you can read. Naturally, read DeltaPoints as I will be SURE to post about good Delta MR deals. You can sign up for my text alert to find out about good MR deals. You just have to be aware.

Q) Gosh, I don’t know if I should book a deal. Should I call the airline to check it is right?
A) If you want to hear 100,000 frequent flyers collectively YELLING throughout the Internet at you, call the airlines. I hope you get me here. NEVER EVER CALL! Many times the deals you will see are mistakes or fat fingered fares. They will go away quickly. So, here is my advice. BOOK BOOK BOOK! Think later, BOOK NOW! You will have 24 hrs to cancel so just book and then once you have time to breathe see if what you have booked will work or not for you. When we are talking MR’s, maybe book two days back to back and get it done all at once if you can stand that much travel!

Q) Should I stick to inside the USA or should I try for international MR’s?
A) Boy is this another personal opinion one. But, I will take a stab at it and some of this will be my personal thoughts on the matter. If the price is good, including say cost to stay at a hotel or in some cases visa cost, why not go internationally (assuming you have a passport that is). I tend to go for domestic ones most of the time. Why? I can get 4 to 5,000 MQM’s per trip. Also, I like domestic, to be able to have wifi when in the air (international GoGo wifi is on the way). Another reason to stay domestic is time to get back home after a bump or whatever. You can see the many perks of staying domestic, but the choice is up to you.

Q) Should I book tight connections or max time between flights?
A) Well, this depends. Let’s say you find a good deal at an airport 2 hours from home. The same flight from your home airport cost 2x as much. It may be worth the risk to book tight and hope for the mighty schedule change to happen and get a free change to your home airport. Now, having said that, I love to have 2-3 hours between flights if I can. It gives me time for food, rest in the Skyclubs (Delta lounge) or time to get a quick or long massage. Keep in mind tight connections can hurt you if you are doing back to back MR days as a delay in one segment could ripple down the line.

Q) Should I book red-eyes or day flights?
A) To me this is a no brainier. If you can book a day run, even a LONG one, getting back to your own bed is better. Plus, this way you could say have a day off between flights on a 2 day run. But, don’t be afraid of overnight flights IF you can sleep on a plane. I can, I am OUT as soon as we push back and as soon as I feel the wheels retract into the airframe I lean back and am gone! Once again a personal call.

So these are the basics of a MR. Some other thoughts to share. I get questions about if I should have my wife or husband join me on a run? Unless your spouse has the frequent fly sickness like you and me, please, NO! Let them enjoy the 1st class trip you will earn from your run. Other bits to keep in mind that are so important are things like seats. To make the trip nice, plan your seats. Use sites like SeatGuru to find the best ones. Look to sites like CWSI.net to check how many MQM’s you will earn on a run/route (be sure you know your 3 letter airport codes). Also please use the Delta phone APP. If you are on a multi-day run, being able to check-in, even up in the air, is great, and you have your next boarding pass in your hand!

I hope this helps. Any other question? Ask away and I encourage readers to look at the comments as I am sure there will be some good ones. Lastly, please comment or e-mail me for other topics you would like me to cover on further rookie Wednesday posts! – René

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

13 Comments

  1. For some hotels, you can get credit for a stay by paying but don’t have to show up.

    Is there ever something like this for a MR? (Pay for a ticket, don’t actually fly, but get MQMs?)

  2. Good stuff Rene! I can certainly see how a MR is beneficial for some folks more than others. If only I could have my wife’s MQM’s from her frequent travels. then I would be more inclined to do a MR.

  3. Great post 🙂 What’s your preferred way to find those sneaky MR through Delta? I feel like I just “get lucky” punching in random cities without much method to my madness. I travel a fair amount for work and my work is fine with me tacking on personal side trips as long as they don’t interfere with the purpose of my trip. It often saves money on my fare staying over a Saturday night or flying into a different airport than I leave from. Win-win! I did this in May for a conference flying into YUL and out of YOW to spend a weekend in Montreal and experience ViaRail for super cheap. My fare was $250 lower…

  4. Good post Rene. I’m doing a MR from ATL-BKK next month (over 19K MQMs !!) for great fare. I will still lose PM (tears falling) but at least I will have GM (something better than nothing). I didnt travel for work as much this year and my personal travel didnt rack up enough MQMs to make an impact so Bangkok here I come.

  5. How do you get on an earlier connecting flight (same day or before) if the weather looks bad for a flight that when looking at flightaware history, cancels at the slightest whisper of high winds? ex-LGA on an RJ-135…

    • @John – Sometimes, if you are at a high medallion level, they will just switch you if you call. You can try for a same day confirm change for a fee. The best tip is get there early enough to make the sooner flight, then just check at the gate if you can switch to this flight. Most times if there is room they will put you on! – Rene

  6. Can you tell me if a GM would ever trump a DM getting an upgrade? for instance a much higher class of coach ticket? or do all DM clear before any GMs?

  7. Pingback: Rookie Wednesday – how to build a Delta mileage run - Delta Points

  8. Don in Atlanta Reply

    Great blog, Rene, thanks. How do we sign up to get an sms alerts from you about mileage runs?

  9. Pingback: Rookie Wednesday: A look back on what we have covered so far (and beyond)! - Delta Points

  10. Hola!

    I am 17k away from gold and I was hoping to take a mileage run from MSP and somehow get to PHX…I’ve been utilizing your points, following the threads on various sites, but I cannot seem to find a run that will net me enough points to get where I need!! Any pointers or ways I need to be approaching this differently?

    Would love the help!
    Josh

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