International vs Domestic Mileage Running

Some say that mileage running is dead, and to that, I say that I don’t really know what I’m talking about since I’ve never done mileage running like people did it back in the day. But I have done a number of very short trips over the past couple of years where one of the primary considerations was the miles (both redeemable and elite qualifying) that I would earn.

But if you are going to go on a mileage run, should you do domestic trips or international trips? Here are some of the pros and cons of both.

Domestic mileage runs:
1) Flights are shorter. This means that you can potentially do multiple mileage runs in the same day.
2) If you qualify on segments, this is probably the way to go.
3) If you already have status, then you can potentially get free upgrades to make the mileage runs more comfortable.
4) You can likely do a same-day turn, so you don’t need to miss work if you go on the weekend.
5) Domestic planes are more likely to be equipped with wifi, so you can be productive in the air.
6) You don’t need to worry about visa/immigration issues.

International mileage runs:
1) Longer flights mean more miles earned. This means it can make more sense if you’re qualifying on miles rather than segments. You also can do fewer trips to get the same number of miles.
2) You probably aren’t going to get any free upgrades, although if you do upgrade (either via miles and copay or other instruments), the experience is significantly better than domestic flying.
3) If you have status, you can potentially get free lounge access.
4) International tickets often have fuel components in the ticket price, which means opportunities for fuel dumping.
5) You potentially have to deal with visa/immigration issues.
6) Saying that you spent your weekend in China is waaaaaay more bad ass than saying that you flew to Toledo three times this past weekend.

Personally, almost all of my mileage running has been to international locations. Since I generally qualify on miles, international destinations are better for me since it means that I can bust out 15k miles in a long weekend, I get to go somewhere awesome and eat interesting food, and I can potentially use a SWU to get upgraded (or even get an op-up).

5 thoughts on “International vs Domestic Mileage Running

    1. TB

      @Patricia not if you keep your body on “local time”.. I did a BAH MR last year with an immediate turn.

      The entire time I kept my phone, watch, etc. on Eastern time. I brought my own food to eat during normal time, and slept only when it was at night in the US. Tough, but definitely the way to go if you’re going long-haul with no time in country.

      Reply
  1. DJ

    i also like to MR to asia(hkg, tpe, nrt), being a taiwanese myself. this yr missed out on great BA J fare to europe. will watch for that, hopefully will have another one by end of yr. i have a Sep DFW-HKG on AA’s 77w J.

    Reply

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