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Get Your Elite Status Before the New Year: Last-Minute Mileage Runs

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As the sun begins to set on 2023, time is running out to qualify for elite status before the clock strikes midnight and we welcome a new year.

The Last-Resort Strategy: Mileage Runs

Even the best of us make mistakes calculating elite mileage accruals; therefore, if you find yourself a few hundred dollars or a couple of flight segments off of your targeted status, you can employ the final, last-resort strategy known as a mileage run.

This guide will look at the cheapest North American mileage run options from major U.S. cities on some airlines with popular elite status programs. We'll give you the price and mileage accruals on each of these itineraries, which allow you to be home the same day you depart. We're also filtering out basic economy fares as those generally do not earn as much as standard economy tickets.

Last-Minute Flight Itineraries to Help You Earn Elite Status

Securing elite status for 2024 may be just in reach, so you may want to participate in a mileage run, aka booking a short-haul flight to earn extra miles. Here are a few example flight itineraries for Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines elite members. Note that the fares mentioned here are strictly examples and the prices were valid at the time of writing; if they are no longer available, use them as inspiration in your own search for last-minute flights.

Of course, if you don't live in these cities — or are trying to snag elite status with another airline — the above flights won't help. However, a fantastic functionality in Google Flights allows you to quickly identify the cheapest options from your home airport: the "Explore destinations" tool. Here's how it works:

  1. Go to Google Flights.
  2. Scroll down and select "Explore destinations."
  3. Enter your home airport.
  4. Click on the dates box, select "Specific dates," then set your departure and return dates to your desired travel dates.
  5. Click "Done."
  6. Review the map and adjust the maximum price using the slider. You can also filter for your preferred airline under the "Airlines" tab.

Once you select a city, review the flight results and make sure you fully understand what you're getting into. Same-day turns can be risky — especially with connections — and most cheap flights will book into basic economy unless you override that when you check out. Nevertheless, it may be worth it if one day's worth of travel can help you reach that next tier of elite status.

Valuable Elite Status and Last-Minute Strategies

For additional details on just how valuable elite status can be, check out our guides to elite status with the following airline programs:

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TPG is committed to helping you earn the status you want, ideally at a fraction of the "usual" price. We've published guides to last-minute elite status for major U.S. airlines. These guides are full of lesser-known ways to earn status quickly by traveling on partner airlines, spending on credit cards and other offers. So, if you're thinking about taking a vacation before the end of the year and want to earn elite status or are interested in other ways besides a mileage run to earn status, refer to these links:

  • Last-minute strategies for Alaska Mileage Plan elite status
  • Last-minute strategies for American AAdvantage elite status
  • Last-minute strategies for Delta Medallion elite status
  • Last-minute strategies for United Premier elite status

You'll notice that we haven't listed any American Airlines itineraries — this is because American members have an extra two months to earn status. When the airline launched Loyalty Points, American modified its elite qualifying year. Rather than using a Jan. 1-Dec. 31 earning window, American uses a March 1-Feb. 28 earning window.

That means AAdvantage members have until Feb. 29, 2024 (yes, it's a leap year), to earn status before their Loyalty Points balance resets to zero. Happy flying!

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