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On the economics of Mileage runs - or why airline should sell qualification miles

On the economics of Mileage runs - or why airline should sell qualification miles

Old Dec 11, 10, 12:28 pm
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On the economics of Mileage runs - or why airline should sell qualification miles

So I'm fairly new, but I'm an economist. And I can't help but think that mileage runs are a waste. Not a waste to you when you do one, but a waste in total. You'd rather pay for your ticket and not fly. And the airline would rather take your money and sell the seat to someone else. So it seems that the airlines would be better off if they sold qualifications miles/segments. They'd be relatively expensive, but they'd be worth it.

It seems like the airfare involved on most runs is about 5-15 cents per qualification mile. Plus your time of being in the airport/on the plane. An hour for every 500 miles seems low, but not unreasonable. If an hour of your time is worth $25 (probably low for someone who flies enough to want to do a mileage run) that's another 5 cents per mile.

So who would pay 10 cents (20 cents? 30cents?) for a qualification mile (on whatever airline)?

Airlines could limit the amount you buy so that you can't directly buy status unless you travel enough - say you could only buy 10% of the threshold. Although they might not care - if you are willing to pay $2,500 for a status level seems like they would come out ahead. Either you fly enough to make it worth it, in which case you would have earned it anyway. Or you don't fly much so the status benefits you get aren't worth much.


(if this isn't the right place to post please move).
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Old Dec 11, 10, 12:43 pm
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Originally Posted by oshelef View Post
airlines would be better off if they sold qualifications miles/segments. They'd be relatively expensive, but they'd be worth it.
CO already does (as an add-on to an existing ticket), and I believe DL has ways to get MQM without flying as well. UA, through the co-branded Visa, also has ways to get some EQM without flying.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
CO already does (as an add-on to an existing ticket), and I believe DL has ways to get MQM without flying as well. UA, through the co-branded Visa, also has ways to get some EQM without flying.
True, but none of those are flat out sales. CO might be the closest, but I still see significant discussion of mileage runs. Are runs that much cheaper than the price they sell them?
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Old Dec 11, 10, 1:08 pm
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Originally Posted by oshelef View Post
Are runs that much cheaper than the price they sell them?
Almost always.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 2:10 pm
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You'd rather pay for your ticket and not fly.
Wrong-O.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 2:17 pm
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If I could buy them at say, no more than 5 cpm straight up I would in an instant, I generally pay 4 cpeqm/2cprdm but don't really get thrills out of these flights to nowhere even in F
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Old Dec 11, 10, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by violist View Post
Wrong-O.
Well, if you enjoy your flight, then there is no inefficiency. And if the airline sold qualification miles for cheap you'd still fly.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 2:37 pm
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
If I could buy them at say, no more than 5 cpm straight up I would in an instant, I generally pay 4 cpeqm/2cprdm but don't really get thrills out of these flights to nowhere even in F
I wonder how many mileage runs there really are...but you are filling an F seat for fairly little revenue... Now perhaps it's a seat they wouldn't be able to sell anyway, but still - the opportunity cost of the airline having you in the air filling that seat isn't tiny.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by oshelef View Post
You'd rather pay for your ticket and not fly.
Actually, I'd rather fly, then just give UA the money and not fly. Part of the MR experience is taking the flight. You never know who you will meet along the way. I've taken a few group MRs this year, and have made some amazing friends..
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Old Dec 11, 10, 5:24 pm
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Not on topic for Communitybuzz! so I'm going to move this off to Milesbuzz! for more discussion.

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Old Dec 11, 10, 5:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Jenbel View Post
Not on topic for Communitybuzz! so I'm going to move this off to Milesbuzz! for more discussion.
Thanks.
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Old Dec 11, 10, 6:45 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Almost always.
agreed
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Old Dec 11, 10, 7:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Mintman10 View Post
agreed
So does that mean no one buys the qualification miles? Or that if you can do a MR that is cheaper you do that, but if not, you buy them?
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Old Dec 11, 10, 7:56 pm
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Originally Posted by oshelef View Post
So does that mean no one buys the qualification miles? Or that if you can do a MR that is cheaper you do that, but if not, you buy them?
Even if UA sold the EQMs, I still think it's more fun to take the actual mileage run. Why pay for something that you can't take advantage of?
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Old Dec 11, 10, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by FriendlySkies View Post
Even if UA sold the EQMs, I still think it's more fun to take the actual mileage run. Why pay for something that you can't take advantage of?
Totally agree with you here FriendlySkies. I never really thought about it until I flew a mileage run and realized, hey, I like this flying around - checking out new airports (unless it's a turnaround ) and lounges - having time to sit with my headphones and read without feeling compelled to 'do' something. All of that while working towards status which, in all probablility, will definitely help make future flights more comfortable.
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