Friday, I wrote about achieving Star Alliance Silver and Gold through Aegean Airlines. To give an overview on how to work on that, I thought I would go over the different flights I took to earn Aegean Gold, which in turn gave me Star Alliance Gold status.
Running for Aegean Gold
I had taken a longer rip back in April, but because of a delay in miles posting from US Airways (still waiting for the resolution of those flights) I needed to hit another quick trip to make Aegean Gold before my European trips. I was under a very tight schedule and needed the flights to be on one of two days and needed to be gone for one day. My choices for flights were between flying United Airlines or US Airways. To figure out which airline to fly with, I went to the earning tables for Aegean Airlines.
Since I wanted to keep the trip quick, I knew that my best bet to earn the 1,500 miles I needed was to fly United Airlines. As you can see, their cheapest booking classes only earn 50% of the miles when credited to Aegean Airlines, but they have a minimum amount earning of 500 miles. This meant that I could stay within the Northeast if I flew United. I could fly US Airways to earn the 100% on actual miles, but that meant that I would have to fly at least down to Charlotte which would make for a longer day. With the 500 mile minimum on United Airlines, I could fly to Cleveland (only 200+ miles away) and still earn 500 miles.
So, I decided on United Airlines and then went to ITA Matrix to search for possible flight options. I used 500 mile airports around Cleveland as a destination and found Rochester – Boston (through Cleveland) for $220. I had a $200 voucher, so that was a wash.
When you make a mileage run such as this, if the airline lets you book a really tight connection – take the tight connection! If you have the time, you may be able to get a bump or a missed connection and get something out of it, or get a better routing. In the case of United, they also may rebook you in a higher fare class that gives you more miles or through a different airport which allows you to get more miles. Once you miss a flight at the fault of the airline, it basically puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to selecting flight options.
However, if you do not have the time to have a missed connection (like I did not have extra time for this trip), check to see where the plane is coming from that is on the other end of your tight connection. For example, I had less than 30 minutes to make my connection at my “destination” of Boston. With United, you can actually check right on their website to see where the planes are coming from. Since it was the same type of plane and same flight number as my flight to Boston, I was reasonably confident that my flight from Boston was on the same plane. So, if my arriving flight was late, so would my departing flight. It turned out I was right (as you can see using United’s tool below).
With my flight plan solidified, I was ready to go!
Now, with a quick mileage run like this, you really do not need to take that much with you. These flights are very quick and the planes are very small. As such, don’t plan on taking a laptop with you to get a lot of work done. In my case, I took my iPad with me to get some work done on that. That was the only thing I took. You get your drinks on the planes, grab a bite to eat at the airports, and that is pretty much it!
Small regional flights like the ones I took are really not the most comfortable to do mileage runs on! The funny part is that I flew as much that day as the flight attendants on those flights. I had only two flight crews for the four flights – I only had a strange look from one of them (the Boston flight when I got back on the plane 25 minutes after stepping off it!). Even though the planes are small, you can still get seats that will give you a reasonable amount of room for such a small plane. Also, if you pick a day that is not a heavy travel day, you have a good shot at getting a row to yourself. Overall, I did not find them to be bad planes!
Rochester – Cleveland – United Bombardier Q300
This is one tiny plane! The best seats are in row 1 (except for seat A). I was in 1C both times and was quite comfortable.
Cleveland – Boston – United Embraer RJ-145
I got the miles I needed (and then some) thanks to the 500 mile minimums for the flights. I was able to wrap up my run to Aegean Gold in one day with the 2,000 miles and had my account upgraded to Gold four days later (the miles posted after 3 days). Overall, it was a good day. It barely cost anything, gave me Star Alliance Gold, and I got work done! Not a bad mileage run!