23 September 2010

The Overall Approach

Since the first time I earned 100,000 miles and made 1k status, the annual goal is to maintain that status.  I kind of fell into the 1 million mile mark that way with about an even combination of work travel and personal travel.  As work travel declined, my strategy had to change.  Instead of frequent travel, I had to plan for maximizing earned flight miles during leisure travel.  Long flights over long weekends became integral to earning enough miles at an adequate pace. Out of San Francisco on United, it means only a few destination -- non-stop flights to London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, and continuing flights to Singapore.

I usually want to spend at least a little bit of time at the destination, so avoiding a lot of connecting flights is important to save time when on a long weekend trip.  Hence the preference for long flight segments.   I focused on long flights with good miles earned per dollar spent on fare.  So destination costs were compared when planning trips.  Traveling to Europe in winter can be cheaper for the 10,000 miles flown versus the longer flight to a warmer destination like Sydney for the same time period.  I also avoided taking codeshare carriers crossing the oceans since they don't count for United flown miles.  The only exceptions I made were where I needed to get somewhere that United did not fly (e.g., Gernamy to New York a couple of times).

Also, maintaing 1k status was extremely important for getting those all important upgrades while paying cheaper coach fares.  I don't get upgraded all the time, but I do manage to make it to business class most of the time (there have been exceptions lately, which makes the trip a little tougher).  But there is no doubt that riding in business class makes all this travel cumulatively less tedious and tiring.  It also give me a chance to catch up on a lot of movies.  The new, upgraded business class seats on many of the planes has made the flying a bit more comfortable -- so much so that it also adds to the considerations when planning trips.

Next:  shooting for 2.150 million in 2010. . . .

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