The Mileage Run: Trying to Reach Elite Airline Status Before New Years

In December, a travel expert says hobbyists fly as much as possible before their credit card miles reset on Jan. 1.
6:43 | 12/19/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for The Mileage Run: Trying to Reach Elite Airline Status Before New Years
? It's the busiest time of the year to travel. Everyone's out in a mad holiday dash. So who would fly any more than they have to? Actually, a lot of people. And even our own correspondent in a mad run for mileage to get those coveted perks. Here's ABC's kendis Gibson. Reporter: I'm on a mission. I need to fly 14,000 miles before the end of this month. Please stay seated with your seat belt securely fastened. Reporter: And it won't be ea easy. Millions of other travelers will be taking to the skies this holiday season, one of the busiest travel times of the year. So why would I do something so crazy, you might ask. Because I need the miles. 14,145 to be exact. To reach the next level stat wuss my airline. So I'm planning what's called a mileage run, flying nonstop for hours, even days on end. At the end of the year people mileage run to get that elite status level because January 1 the clock resets. Reporter: Here at JFK I meet with Brian Kelly in the swanky virgin atlantic lounge. Now, Brian is an expert on scoring big travel rewards for small amounts of spending. There's two main types of mileage runs. The first is to accrue miles cheaply, redeemable miles that you can use for future flights. The second type of mileage run is with the focus of elite status. So taking flights, even if they're not cheap, but to get to that elite status level so you have all those benefits for the entire next year. People will fly all over the world just for status? Exactly. At the top tier airlines really pamper flyers. You know, upgrades, club access. It really makes travel a lot more enjoyable. Brian is one of a growing number of experts who employ all sorts of tricks of the trade to meet their unquenchable desires from racking up miles on credit cards to infiltrating high-level lounges for the perks. Traveling in style is what they do. But you don't have to be a professional to enjoy the perks of airline status. Who are we talking about, these people that do mileage runs? It's all types of travelers. You know, whether you're a news anchor or a consultant who spends their life on the road and getting those elite statuses can help, even if you're flying in economy but you've got delta elite status. You can enjoy this lounge right next to the person who paid $5,000 for their ticket. So status has its privileges. Status has its privileges. Exactly. Reporter: To get to that elite status I'm going to take six consecutive flights starting in New York City. I'll fly to Seattle, then on to Anchorage, Alaska, down to Phoenix, cross-country to Charlotte, overseas to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and back to new York City. All in 52 hours. And how do I go about doing like a really rad mileage run? Well, the first thing would be to take the price of the ticket and divide it by the amount of miles, redeemable miles that you're going to get. Now, real mileage runners back in the day getting three cents per mile for the flight was a good standard bearer. Reporter: By booking strategic flights my trip will run me $852 total, six sentence per mile. Not bad if you discount the lost sleep. What are some of the crazy things that people do? There are extremes. I know people who have flown from Los Angeles to Sydney, gotten off the plane, and flown Sydney to Los Angeles back because they needed a ton of miles and they only had one day to do it. Just arriving at JFK an hour before my flight. Only about 50 hours to go. The journey was intense. 40 hours to go. 19 hours into this trip. It's been a long marathon. I'm exhausted. But about to get off the plane. This is the fourth stop. Things at times got interesting. And took me to places I'd never normally go. Hi. Good morning. I'm going to Anchorage. Reporter: It's now 4:00. I've made it to the frozen tundra that is Anchorage, Alaska. It is really, really, really cold. From icy roads to white sandy beaches. 48 hours after leaving New York City and 24 hours after leaving Anchorage, I finally made it here to the fifth stop in this crazy mileage run. Sunny Puerto Rico. Not bad. Reporter: But unfortunately for me, it wasn't enough. With all the flying I've done in the last 48 hours, by my calculation I'm supposed to be executive platinum by now on American, but I just took a look, and I'm still 400 points short. I could cry right now. Was it worth it? I did all the calculation. I got to San Juan at the end. My last stop when I was supposed to have elite status. And I look online, and I didn't make it. You didn't make it? After all that. How did you mess up the snath did you miscalculate the amount of -- I miscalculated because I needed points and I miscalculated the points. A lot of airlines these days are reducing the amount of miles you earn based on the fare class you wk so, the cheap economy tickets are not earning as much. So they've caught on to mileage runners. Not good news for those who aren't jetsetting savants, who live for the smell of jet fuel. But still Brian says there are ways to save on your holiday travel this year. Tip number one, be flexible on your schedule. I would recommend use Google flights and search for the cheapest flights around you. It may make sense to drive to another airport. Be flexible. That's how you're going to get prices down. Reporter: Tip number two, consider using a low-cost carrier. There's a lot of low-cost carriers. And cheap ways to get across the atlantic. There's wow air which will go through Iceland. I just recently flew Norwegian arnlsz. Same thing domestically, check southwest. And remember the fare's jut one component of a ticket. With fees these days and airlines charging for carry-ones do the math and see what the total price will be to fly. And if all else fails, tip number three, use some frequent flyer miles. Last minute airlines release a ton of frequent flyer award availability even during the holidays. So don't assume you can't use your miles. You might find yourself enjoying the diamond medallion treatment at the cubic zirconia price. Zbll I'm hankering to go to London. I just redeemed 62,500 delta miles. Just now. Check out how much. For a business class seat this is how much cash out of pocket. That's a typo. No. $5.60. Look at that. To go to London. Business class. Last minute. Where it's probably a $4,000 or $5,000 ticket. $5.60. Cheers to that. And to your almost mileage run. Almost successful one. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm kendis Gibson. Finally, New York City. Reporter: And I'm going to sleep. Can't feel too bad for kendis. He made his elite status on his next flight out for ABC news. So now he can finally enjoy those well-earned perks.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"6:43","description":"In December, a travel expert says hobbyists fly as much as possible before their credit card miles reset on Jan. 1.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"35856915","title":"The Mileage Run: Trying to Reach Elite Airline Status Before New Years","url":"/Nightline/video/mileage-run-reach-elite-airline-status-years-35856915"}