Mileage runs, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is basically travel done for the sole purpose of earning miles or points in a frequent-flier program of a particular airline. There are two kinds of miles, or points, available to earn in most programs; one is mileage redeemable for reward travel or other benefits, and the other is mileage used to accumulate a certain “elite status” with a specific airline.

Most mileage runners wouldn’t be going on a run to earn miles to redeem for more rewards; that’s counterintuitive. However, the latter perk, earning miles towards an airline’s elite status program, is what most people suffer through in hopes of reaping larger rewards. This second kind of run-inducing mileage is typically referred to as butt-in-seat mileage; you almost always have to fly to be able to earn towards status.

So, why is it worth it to do mileage runs towards status?

There are some people who fly often enough, whether for business or pleasure, to naturally earn one elite status tier or another with an airline. However, most fliers don’t. Even if you fly often, you may be flying different airlines, only building a small amount of mileage in several programs, rather than accumulating it all into one program.

For those of us that earn enough to reach elite status, the benefits can make you fret that you’ll never lose it. Here are some of the general perks of elite status, though not all are available with every airline:

  • Complimentary upgrades
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security line
  • Preferred seating
  • Bonus award miles
  • Lounge access
  • Waived baggage fees
  • Increased baggage allowance
  • Waived cancellation or change fees
  • Waived ticketing fees
  • Priority baggage handling

These are some of the things that people take mileage runs for. Now, you may wonder, why would someone pay several hundred dollars to do a mileage run for the chance that they may get upgraded once or twice in the next year? The answer varies with each individual, but for the most part, the benefits, both tangible and intangible, are very lucrative to the frequent flier. If you only fly several times a year, you may not be able to realize the benefits above, but fly ten or more times and I am sure that you will!