My First Mileage Run

By Jonathan Spira on 6 January 2014
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Sunset during the author's LAX-JFK flight

Sunset during the author’s LAX-JFK flight

A mileage run, in more common parlance a trip whose sole purpose is to garner miles used for status in an airline’s frequent-flyer program, is, in certain circles, quite common.  Many frequent flyers seek out inexpensive tickets with routings that maximize the number of miles in a trip, and many strive to accomplish their flying all in one day, in order to minimize the amount of time consumed by the run.

Although, for 2013, I’ve flown approximately 110,000 actual miles, they’ve been on a variety of airlines given the nature of my job, which is, in part to review different airlines and aircraft .  I have attained and enjoyed Platinum status with Delta over the past few years and have been very satisfied with the benefits, which include unlimited domestic upgrades and excellent customer service.  All I needed to maintain Platinum status for 2014 was 18,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM), Delta’s term for the miles that qualify members for elite status.

As the year progressed, I found myself somewhat short of reaching the 75, 000-mile mark necessary to maintain my Platinum status.  Around the same time, I found an excellent airfare for transatlantic flights in business class (Delta only offers business class and coach seats, but its business-class cabins have fully lie-flat seats with direct-aisle access and are close to some airlines’ first-class offerings in many respects).  In addition, I decided to fly from Los Angeles to London (going from New York would just be too easy, and it wouldn’t get me the number of MQMs I needed, which, in this case, was 18,000).

My mileage run, however, was not just an overnight jaunt.  I allowed for a few days in Los Angeles prior to the trip and four days in London.

My journey started a week before Thanksgiving with a flight out to Los Angeles on American.  I chose American for two reasons: it would be one of my last flights on American’s soon-to-be-retired Boeing 767-200s and I needed the qualifying miles on American as well.  The flight out, on AA 1 in the second row of first class, was pleasant. We arrived at LAX 13 minutes early and I was soon en route to the Sofitel downtown.

After visiting with some friends and enjoying the great weather for a few days, it was time to jet over to England.

Delta doesn’t offer a non-stop flight from Los Angeles International Airport (its joint-venture partner, Virgin Atlantic, does, however) so my routing was LAX-JFK and JFK-LHR.    Both aircraft were Boeing 767-300ERs with the aforementioned fully lie-flat seats (I enjoyed seat 1A for both legs of the trip).

Delta’s BusinessElite cabin seats are configured 1-2-1. Each seat extends into a 79” lie-flat bed and is 21” wide and has a massage feature, which may be invigorating on long trips.  The bulkhead seats, incidentally, have a far larger foot space than those in other rows.

The first segment was fairly quick and comfortable and, despite arriving eight minutes late, there was enough time before the second flight to drop-in at the Virgin Clubhouse for a (very) quick meal.   The second segment, also on a 767-300ER, was equally pleasant and arrival was 47 minutes later than scheduled at London Heathrow’s Terminal 4, my first time there since British Airways had vacated it for its new home in Terminal 5.  (Starting in 2014, many of Delta’s flights will leave from Terminal 3 so its passengers can take advantage of the Virgin Clubhouse lounge operated by Virgin Atlantic, which Delta owns 49% of.)

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