Change Planes. Connect time in Anchorage, AK (ANC) is 1 hr.

  • New York, NY (JFK) to Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) on Sat., Nov. 10, 2007
  • Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) to Seattle, WA (SEA) on Sat., Nov. 10, 2007
  • Seattle, WA (SEA) to Anchorage, AK (ANC) on Sat., Nov. 10, 2007
  • Anchorage, AK (ANC) to Seattle, WA (SEA) on Sun., Nov. 11, 2007
  • Seattle, WA (SEA) to Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) on Sun., Nov. 11, 2007
  • Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) to New York, NY (JFK) on Sun., Nov. 11, 2007

In the world of the mileage obsessed, there is the concept of a mileage run. This involves going to the airport and getting on a plane (or series of planes) and just flying somewhere, only to turn around and come straight back. There is no reason to take these trips, other than for a love of flying and for the collection of miles. And status. For the frequent flier, the idea of status is the icing on the cake, the benefit that makes all the effort worthwhile. It is completely irrational, and yet the number of people doing it is higher than you might think (which is to say more than just me). Sometimes it is driven by the fare, like a $1.78 fare to Watertown, NY from anywhere USAir flies. Sometimes it is driven by the destination or the aircraft flying the route (lots of folks spent a LOT of money to fly on the A380 initial flights SIN-SYD-SIN). In my case, it is the search for status.

All the airlines have levels of status, and the higher one is on the food chain, the better the service and, more importantly, the greater the chances for upgrades. So keeping that top tier of status is a worthy goal, especially if there is an expectation of further high volumes of travel where those benefits will come in handy. And the difference between the levels is notable. A platinum flier on a $68 fare from NYC to Orlando will get the upgrade above the gold on a $200 fare on the same plane – life isn’t fair sometimes. So when the end of the year rolls around, there are folks working on topping off their accounts, making sure that they have the miles they need for that last status bump.

And so it is that I find myself flying to Anchorage, Alaska for an hour this weekend. I won’t leave the airport (or any other of the airports I’ll be transiting for the 36 hours I’m on the road). I’ll eat a lot of airline food. I’ll desperately try to actually sleep a little on some of the planes. And I’m going to read. A lot. I’ll top off my account for platinum status for next year (and my co-worker flying with me will make his silver status with this trip). I’ll earn almost enough miles for a free ticket (20K+ miles!!). And I’m going to have a pretty good time along the way. Certainly the fact that I’m flying in first class on the IAH-SEA-ANC-SEA-IAH part of the trip doesn’t hurt the comfort factor of the trip.

And so now pretty much everyone out there thinks I’m crazy. Consider this, however. A 36 hour trip is a quick one, and I’m not leaving the country. It isn’t uncommon to read of 72 hour trips to Singapore or Bangkok, with only 10-20 hours on the ground. Maybe next year….

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.