Great Mileage Run Fares for Segment-Based Elites Are Available

With the majority of airlines matching Southwest’s $49 fares in sub 500-mile markets, it has opened up a two-week window in December for segment-based elites to fly probably the cheapest mileage segment runs of the year for 2014 requalification.

The sale also includes January-February 2014 travel, but I’m sure that most people aren’t starting to plan runs in 2014 for 2015 status.

If you’re a United flier, there are fantastic opportunities to rack up six Premier Qualifying Segments for a mere $21.23/segment. Here’s one I found, for example:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

United segment run from Reno

Now I realize that I’m probably the only person based in Reno, but there are plenty of similar type of runs originating from LAX, SFO, LAS, etc. And I’m sure there are from more points throughout the country (at least those with generous routing rules), but I’ve only looked at the West Coast so far.

The fares typically allow travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays only, and are valid from December 4-19 or January 7-February 12.

If anyone has a specific origin they’d like me to check, just let me know and I’ll see if I can find a decent segment run on this fare (time permitting). [Update:] I’ve looked at MKE, ORD, BOS, DEN, MSY and PDX… check out the comments below.

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.


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  1. I’m a segment qualifier. If you found one from DEN I would very much appreciate it. I would be looking more to get a head start on next year as I’m set for this year.

    • @Tyler: For the sub 500-mile markets I’ve checked from DEN on United, all of the routing rules require nonstop travel for the $49 fares. So, I have yet to find a single day where you could get 6 segments completed (4 likely max doing something like DEN-PHX-DEN-PHX-DEN). That said, if you were willing to do multiple days, the $49 fares are out there to PHX, ABQ, OKC, SLC (what I’ve search so far). And Saturdays in January and February are yielding the most availability (for PHX, anyway).

    • @Alex: Oh, BOS is a toughie. Very few destinations on UA where I see the $49 fare. One is Buffalo, however, where you could rack up 4 segments in a day at $29.90/segment flying BOS-EWR-BUF-EWR-BOS. And I see plenty of dates/flights, so if you had the time, you could knock out 8 segments in two days.

  2. Need a trip DEN-SLC, in Jan. DL is matching WN at $49, but UA is at a whopping $133! Don’t understand why they aren’t matching.

    Also, what do you think of MSY-TPA – it’s via IAH for $118. Works out to 3.6c/RDM. That’s about the best I can find out of MSY with more than one segment. Thanks.

    • @Al: It looks like United loaded DEN-SLC at the $49 fare and I see various dates in January for $98 roundtrip… maybe the N-space isn’t available on the dates you’re looking at? Out of MSY, there’s also AUS and SAT (but not DFW) for a similarly priced run like the TPA one you found. Interestingly, those also allow a connection in DEN.

  3. Hi Darren.
    If you find anything originating on MKE/ORD that would be wonderful. I haven’t seen a decent MR from MKE in a while. Thanks in advance.

    • @Ankit: For segments, all of the MKE-originating fares on UA only seem to allow a single connection, so you could do MKE-ORD-MSP-ORD-MKE and knock out 4 segs in one day for $29.90/segment (I see single-day runs on 12/5, 12/10 and 12/11 at that rate). Out of ORD, it looks like UA has published the $49 one-way fares as valid roundtrip only with minimum stays, so I have yet to find a market where you could crank out several segments in a day unless you nested tickets, which isn’t “legal” per United’s contract of carriage.

    • @Ankit: P.S. There is an interesting fare MKE-BNA on United that allows connections in IAH, so on a mileage basis, it would come out to 2.99 cpPQM, which is darn good.

  4. @Darren, I see AUS & SAT at the $49 fare, however, I only see connections through IAH at that fare. Unless I can connect through DEN, TPA would yield more for the price, right?

    • @Al: Yep, correct. I have yet to find a MSY-DEN-AUS-DEN-MSY trip where both directions yield the $49 fare in December, but it is open on just the MSY-DEN-AUS portion on 12/16 for $49 (UA1121 to UA575).

    • @Theresa: Are you looking for segment runs out of PDX, or purely mileage runs? For segments on this $49 fare, I do see PDX-SEA-SFO-SMF (or -RNO) at this fare, though availability in December is tight/non-existent for same-day roundtrips to get 6 segments. If it’s purely mileage runs you’re looking for, let me know and I can perhaps make a new post.

  5. I am going to be 1200 miles short of gold this year and this would be great for a few miles. I can’t seem to find anything out of IAH. Anyone had any luck?

  6. @Guil: I can’t find a same-day run, or even 1-nighter, flying MKE-IAH-BNA roundtrip. Just a few one-ways for the return BNA-IAH-MKE portion on 1/7, 1/28 and 1/29.

  7. @Julie: Oh you’re so close! You have to make a run somewhere. 😉 I haven’t found a same-day one using this fare from IAH to get you the 1,200 miles yet, but there are plenty of ~$200ish roundtrips to get you there. If you don’t mind doing an IAH-MSY roundtrip twice on two different days (I see 12/7, 12/9, 12/12, 12/14, 12/16 and 12/17 available), you could get that for $98 r/t each.

  8. Just booked 2 rt on December 14 from IAH -MSY. Guess I better find a good book.

    Thanks, Darren for the help.

  9. Darren, how are you searching for these? Just on I’m looking for something out of CMH (or DAY or CVG)

    • @Alex: I’m using ITA’s Matrix Airfare Search in combination with Experflyer (to find the cities where the $49 fare exists). I’ll check some Ohio cities a bit later today.

  10. Just a heads up to some of those out there who are club members. Most of the trips I have been looking at you can split in to one ways for the same cost. If you do that you would get the extra $5. I know that isn’t much but $5 on a $49 fare is 10% back.

  11. @Jay: 6 segments out of LAX or BUR is a toughie on one itin, but you could easily do 4 for $29.90/seg. Tons of midweek LAX-SFO-RNO-SFO-LAX out there in December for same-day runs. Yesterday I saw LAX-SFO-SMF r/ts, but availability isn’t there right now when I checked.

  12. @Alex: Out of CMH, I see a CMH-IAD-CLT-IAD-CHM same-day itin open on 12/7, or several CMH-ORD-STL-ORD-CHM ones open on 12/7, 12/9, 12/10, and 12/14. And as with others here, I’m finding routing rules restricting the $49 fare out of CMH to only one connection, so you’d get 4 at $29.90ish/seg.

  13. @Tiara: For 7,000 miles, that’ll be more of a pure mileage run vs. a segment one that’s mainly the focus of this post. But I’ll be happy to check PHL/EWR trips and post something new if I see a great run. Also, I do remember a week or so ago I found a great one out of PHL… can’t remember where to or find my notes on it, but I’ll let you know if I come across it again.

  14. Darren,

    I am about 10 segments from Platinum, this could work out great. have tyou found anything from any of the WAS airports?


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