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I need about 8000 miles by the end of the year to retain my Elite status with Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles (and consequently my Star Alliance Gold level). In my mind, spending some money to do a mileage run is worth it because I make good use of lounges and the other benefits.

However, in trying to look for how I can go about finding a mileage run, I've run in to a few articles:

Some notes about the above articles:

  • A lot of the content is from the context of American airlines and may not be true for others
  • I have clicked around the mileage run forum on FlyerTalk

I'm wondering if there are any flight search engines that have something along the lines of a cents per mile counter?

In general, is there a dedicated tool (apart from forums and deal sites) for finding mileage run flights?

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    Best resource I know of for mileage runs is the FlyerTalk forum for your chosen program. As the rules for each program differs so much, you'll struggle to find any tools to do it, so your best bet is the people who know your program well
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 21:52
  • Also, most of those blog posts talk about US Frequent Flier schemes, which are changing (often introducing revenue components). Those changes won't apply to you, as you're a member of a non-US FF program which isn't (yet...) making any changes like that
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 22:40

1 Answer 1

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Mileage runs are absolutely still possible, it's just a lot more complicated than it used to be and there's no easy way to find them. For example, a simple "cents per mile" counter is useless these days, because almost all airlines have switched to awarding different amounts of miles for the same flight depending on the fare class, not to mention the byzantine complexity of different frequent flyer programs counting and awarding miles differently, bonuses for people who already have status, promotions etc etc, and the remaining deals are often found at the intersection of these. Following a specialist forum like FlyerTalk remains your best bet for finding good deals.

As an example, "Visit Japan" fares for any domestic JAL flight in Japan can be had for ¥10,000 a pop (actual value up to ¥45,000), which is great value in itself, and the cherry on top is that these award full miles on most oneworld frequent flyer programs -- but you can't even book Visit Japan fares online, so it's not even theoretically possible to construct an engine that can find this.

What would kill off mileage runs for good is switching to a simple "1 mile per $1 paid" scheme. As discussed in one of the articles you link to, airlines all over the world are increasingly moving in this direction; for example, for years now, Singapore Airlines has only awarded its highest status ("PPS") to people who spend at least S$25,000 in cold, hard cash per calendar year. As far as I know, while nobody has gone whole hog yet, I suspect it's just a matter of time until this happens, and a lot of hotel award programs already operate on this basis.

And a personal opinion: I fly enough that doing more of it purely for Internet airline points has always struck me as silly. There are easier ways to both optimize point collection, like choosing your credit cards carefully and maximizing usage, and to get the most out of the points you have collected. There are some absolute gold mines to be found in the award charts.

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    to be fair, there are elbows that justify mileage runs. Stop now, and you won't have lounge access next year. But fly 5000 status miles, and you will. Lounge access costs $600. For $500 you can fly those miles, so you're getting your lounge access or your trip (depending on how you look at it) free. I would never MR for redeemable miles, only for status miles to hit an elite level. (Although as it turns out I won't do it for that either.) Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 1:28
  • Southwest Airlines' loyalty program is almost as simple as "1 mile per dollar". Points earned on a flight are directly proportional to dollars spent, with the multiplier depending on fare class (of which there are only 3). Elite status can be earned either by number of points in a year, or number of flights. Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 17:33

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