30,000 miles to nowhere: My 4 mile buffer and a contingency plan

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Background: Until recently, there was a one time opportunity to get top tier American Airlines AAdvantage elite status (Executive Platinum) by enrolling in and completing the US Airways Preferred Status Trial.  For fun, I decided to go for it and I know that many readers did too.  Now we just have to fly 30,000 miles on US Airways or American Airlines flights!  Follow along through this series of posts, or on Twitter search for hashtag #30Ktonowhere.  For additional background, please see:The last great mileage run.  See you in the air!

4 mile buffer

When I last posted my #30KtoNoWhere progress and plans I said that even with all of my past and future flights booked, I would be a bit over 4000 miles short of the 30K goal.  Since then I booked a quick mileage run to San Diego (I’ll be there this Thursday if any locals want to meet for happy hour. Let me know via the comments, below). 

If my calculations are correct, I have now booked flights that will result in 30,004 miles flown (after accounting for 500 mile minimums). That gives me only a 4 mile buffer. To calculate the miles, I used the Great Circle Mapper distance tool.  I put in 500 as the minimum number of miles earned and then entered in every single flight I’ve taken and have booked:

dtw-dca-gso-phl-dtw-dfw-las-phl-las-phx-dtw-clt-pbi-clt-dtw-phx-san-phx-dtw-dfw-las-phl-las-phl-las-phx-dtw

The result: 30,004 miles.

To see how well Great Circle Mapper tracks to preferred qualifying miles earned on US Airways, I then compared the flights I’ve already taken:

dtw-dca-gso-phl-dtw-dfw-las-phl-las-phx-dtw-clt-pbi-clt-dtw

Great Circle Mapper says that I should have earned 12,745 preferred miles from those flights.  I then looked at my US Airways account and found that I had earned 10,745 preferred qualifying miles in January and 2,000 preferred qualifying miles in December.  In other words, Great Circle Mapper was spot on.

Here’s the map showing all of the routes I plan to fly (many flights overlap, so it looks like less flying than it actually is):

30Ktonowhere_great_circle_mapper

Contingency Plan

A 4 mile buffer is awfully small.  What if the calculations go awry?  Or, what if a weather or mechanical issue causes a change to my itinerary?  My scheduled mileage runs finish on February 6th. I have until February 11th to complete the 30,000 miles for the Trial.  If I don’t earn the expected 30,000 miles by Feb 6, I’ll schedule the cheapest flight I can find to make up the difference.  Usually there are cheap flights between Detroit and Chicago on American Airlines, so that might be a good option.  I probably wouldn’t even have to pay for both directions. I could fly one-way as a paid flight and use 4500 Avios for the other direction.


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