My Craziest Mileage Run Yet

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So last summer I decided to fly back from Milan via Miami. And Dallas. And Sao Paulo.

It was perhaps my craziest status mileage run to date. American had flights from Milan to Sao Paulo, Brazil for ~$500 which would earn nearly 20,000 elite qualifying miles. I looked at it and moved on since the fares required a much longer minimum stay in Brazil than I was willing to commit. Then a day or two later I saw there were $650 fares from Sao Paulo to DC, which would earn ~13,000 eqms.

Hmmmm. My days of being happy doing straight turns without leaving the airport are over. It was alot of status miles at a good price, and a lot of trouble just for a mileage run. But if I used it as an excuse to take mini vacations at wish list destinations while earning miles towards status it would be worth it…

So I booked.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually it wasn’t bad at all. All my upgrades cleared but I’d forgotten how tiring killing time in the airport can be, even with lounge access!

Iberia business class review jfk-mad

I used 50,000 American miles to book a one-way flight on Iberia into Florence and had a great time wining and dining in Tuscany over the Labor Day weekend. Then I flew from Milan to Miami, enormously relieved when my systemwide upgrade cleared at the last minute.

Pitti Gallo e Cantina Enoteca three decades of chianti tasting Florence Italy

Fortunately was able to spend my 6 hour layover in the Miami Centurion Lounge (which felt long even with a free massage). And flew to Sao Paulo for a 12 hour layover before heading back to the US.

Because I had a carryon bag from my weekend in Tuscany and a laptop case, I was too encumbered to try to do a day tour and decided to try out the brand new gate-side Tryp hotel. The only trick was getting my boarding pass to go back through security since the American ticket counters don’t open until a few hours before the afternoon flight.

I was able to get the ticket office to print out a boarding pass and barely 45 minutes after clearing immigration I was going back through (which wound up being hard to explain) and checking into the Tryp.

Tryp Wyndham GRU Airport Hotel entrance

This round of upgrades had cleared in advance and I grabbed some sleep in the new business class seat to Dallas and connecting on to DC. A week and a half later I was headed back to Sao Paulo via Dallas, this time for a long weekend at Igauzu Falls.

Igauzu Falls blew my mind. I (wrongly) would never have made a special trip there believing it to be on par with Niagra Falls, but it was better. Way better.

Iguazu Falls Devils Throat western view

And then one night later it was back to Sao Paulo. A long layover in the one world lounge and stalking the not-quite-open American Airlines lounge.

sao paolo oneworld lounge

And then the flight back to New York. I had originally planned to return to Milan, but wound up meeting with a client in New York that day, discarding the rest of my ticket.

At the end of the trip I was alot closer to requaliying for Executive Platinum and finally visited Tuscany which had been at the top of my wish list for years. Also learned for future mileage runs I want to arrange my layovers better so I have more time to leave the airport or less time to kill. Despite working during layovers, I still felt like I was wasting half of my trip. Yet not sure I could do the alternative, still impressed by the folks who do straight turns to Asia in economy in pursuit of miles!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


  1. Jolly

    February 19, 2016 at 2:38 am

    That’s great. Debating doing an ORD-PEK-ORD run myself 🙂

  2. Angel

    February 19, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Did pretty much the same thing myself last year and doing it again this year (just flew CDG-JFK-DCA as the first leg of my CDG-EZE-MAD via DCA ticket). Fares ex Europe to South America are a bargain compared to ex US fares. I basically ticketed CDG-JFK-DCA-stop-DCA-MIA-EZE-stop-EZE-JFK-MAD for each $1,100 for our family of four and that include our Christmas flights to Buenos Aires which cost $1,700 by themselve!! We used the first segments to return from our Valentine’s weekend in Paris (Park Hyatt is overrated BTW) and will change the JFK-MAD to a later day closer to the end of the year by paying EUR 180 which is a very reasonable change fee. Just my $0.02 🙂
    PS: We used ThankYou points to offset about 60% of the cost of our tickets and I’m using SWUs to upgrade to J. Life is good!

  3. Danny

    February 19, 2016 at 9:44 am

    That is always a problem on what to do with your bags during the layover if you want to see the city.

  4. DaninMCI

    February 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    So I assume you have a visa for Brasil?

    Also what type aircraft did you have on the MXP-MIA flight? I’m on this route later this year and AA keeps changing (on paper) the aircraft.

    • Keri Anderson

      February 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      It was a 767, old business class. And yes to the visa, though they’re waiving the visa requirement for Americans this summer, June 1-September 18.

  5. Susan

    February 27, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Keri – I’m new to all fhis, but have been thinking about doing a mileage run. My only concern is a customs & immigration office not believing why I’m in a country for only an overnight stay. I immediately think of drug mules when I hear something like that. Are there are any tips for handling this, or am I just being paranoid?

    • Keri Anderson

      February 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm

      It’s not an unreasonable fear. I frequently get additional questions at customs and even had an Alaska state trooper ask me point blank. That said, I’ve never had a problem.

      Be very upfront about what you’re doing (a lot of immigration folks know about mileage running) and overshare rather than try to invent another reason. When asked why I’m there for such a short time, I start gushing about the great airfare price, my limited vacation time, and how much I love elite status and how close I am to requalifying. About halfway through my monologue they’re pretty eager to get rid of me.

  6. Maria Jose

    March 25, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I was happy to read your story. Good to know how others do this so I do not feel so foolish for what my husband gets me into. We have made 3 trips this year to Asia with a 2 1/2 hour turn around in coach. My husband and daughter do very well but too much for me. So I am spending a week in Barcelona with family and not looking forward to the next Miles Run and when my husband says this is going to be a tough one.
    Leaves from IAH Houston to Calgary to Sao Paulo, next day we leave from Sao Paulo to ANC Alaska then back to Sao Paulo then back to Calgery then down home to Houston. Total is 5 days and cost I am not sure.
    I think I will want to see the falls for sure. Nice picture, I am sure in person will be awsume. Thanks

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