Who says mileage running is dead? I did, but clearly I was wrong, because US Airways is offering a very lucrative status challenge that is definitely mileage-run worthy. Non-elite members pay a fee for 90 days of elite status. They can secure status past 90 days by completing a fraction of the typical requirements. There are three elite levels to choose from and the cost depends on which one you choose:
- Silver Preferred: $200
- Gold Preferred: $400
- Platinum Preferred: $600
After the 90 trial period, your level of elite status will be determined by the number of miles flown during the challenge:
- Silver Preferred: 7,500 miles or 10 segments
- Gold Preferred: 15,000 miles or 20 segments
- Platinum Preferred: 22,500 miles or 30 segments
- Chairman Preferred: 30,000 miles or 40 segments
Why is this challenge such a big deal? Because under its terms, members can earn status by flying one third of the miles/segments typically required. Additionally, members can sign up for the cheapest Silver Preferred level, pay just $200, and still qualify for top-tier Chairman Preferred status. Chairman Preferred members get two systemwide upgrades. Once the program integrates with American’s AAdvantage program, they’ll receive Executive Platinum privileges, which includes eight systemwide upgrades. Hit your status goal this year and you’re looking at 10 systemwide upgrades in 2015!
Now if you decide to go for status, I recommend you go for top-tier Chairman Preferred. I can’t do it because earlier this year US Airways arbitrarily granted me Silver Preferred status, rendering me ineligible for this promotion. That didn’t stop me from fantasizing about a cross-country mileage run and how to get it done cheaply.
One of my favorite tools is Kayak Explore, which has a very simple map interface that shows the lowest fares out of your designated airport. You can specify a price range, travel period, and region. Unfortunately you can’t filter results by airline, so finding low American and US Airways flights will take a bit more work.
I’ve found some decent round-trip fares to Providence, RI and Manchester, NH out of San Francisco. At $312, these flights will earn about 5,700 miles round-trip. Six of these flights would be more than enough to secure the 30,000 miles required for Chairman Preferred status. That brings the grand total for this mileage run to $1,872. Not bad, considering you’re getting upwards of 10 systemwide upgrades out of it, not to mention the bonus miles earned on paid flights, waived baggage fees, and a myriad of other benefits reserved for elites.
If you decide to go for this status challenge, a great way to off-set the cost is to redeem Arrival Plus Miles. If you can manage to complete your mileage runs for $2,000, you’ll need 190,000 Arrival Miles to cover the cost. That’s $95,000 in manufactured spending within 120 days (or $23,750 per month). This is certainly attainable and if you go the Simon Mall gift card/Bluebird route, you’re looking at $560.50 in gift card fees. Overall, your quest for US Airways Chairman Preferred status could cost as little as $760.50. That includes the $200 fee for the Silver Preferred trial.
Are you going to take advantage of the US Airways elite status challenge?