Mileage Run vs. Ignorance. Ignorance Wins! I Heart Choice Plus Fares

I’d say I do this at least once every two years, maybe as frequently as once a year.  Be honest, after you’ve read my recap, have you ever done the same?

I had a mileage run scheduled for today.  I was running behind on re-qualification for American Airlines Executive Platinum status, the status I covet most.  So, I booked a quick same-day turnaround from IAD to LAX and back.  I was leaving around 10am, would be back at 10pm and would have wifi the whole day so plenty of time to catch up on work e-mail.

Oddly, neither of my upgrades had cleared the night before.  I haven’t missed an upgrade on American since some time in 2012, but IAD-LAX is probably the toughest route I have for upgrades.  Mild surprise but not a shock.

When I looked on Expert Flyer, there wasn’t any inventory on my outbound flight to use a SWU (systemwide upgrade), but American was still selling seats in First, a good sign!  However, my return flight did have inventory to redeem a SWU, and that inventory moved from 3 seats to 4, then finally 2 late in the day.  I wouldn’t normally burn a SWU for a flight like this, preferring to save them for overseas travel, like my recent flight from London Heathrow to JFK.

Mileage Run vs. Ignorance

Should I burn one for this?  I thought about it.  I asked a good friend his opinion.  I dwelled on it some more.  And, then I decided it was worth it and I called the Executive Platinum desk to apply the SWU.  I informed the agent that I could see some inventory for SWUs for my return flight that I’d like to book.  However, she couldn’t see the inventory.  Huh?

Then, she said the dreaded words.  No, Mr. Pizza.  I don’t see any inventory for your Thursday return.  I had booked my return flight for 2 days from now, the completely wrong day for a same-day mileage run!  It sounds weird to say, but I’ve never been so happy an upgrade didn’t clear in my life.  Why?  Because if it had, there’s a reasonable chance I might have boarded my flight to LAX having no idea I didn’t actually have a reservation to return that day.  Sure, maybe I would have noted it at the airport when I couldn’t get my second boarding pass but I barely noted that when checking in on the mobile app.  But, if I had boarded that flight, I would have been spending 25,000 miles to get myself a last-minute ticket home and not earning any status miles because I couldn’t change my ticket.  A double whammy!

This is where the second part of my thread title comes into play.  American Airlines came out with these new “Choice” fare bundles not too long ago.  While I’ve been critical of the opacity in the pricing, I’m a big proponent of these fares for both my business tickets and mileage runs.  I’ve saved my company thousands of dollars in change fees this year and this is also now the second time I’m moving this mileage run to a different date.  Disaster averted, though I did make next month just a bit busier for travel.

Now, be honest with me?  Have you ever made a mistake like this?  Don’t worry, I promise I won’t tell anyone.

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    1. aegt123, Oh, I could totally see doing that. Haven’t done that one yet. Maybe next year’s epic fail!

  1. I’ve paid UAL’s $200 change fee three times this summer. I’ve booked an outbound transcon flight that overlaps my return transcon flight from a previous trip …. I’ve booked wrong return dates … And last week I booked the wrong return WEEK, booking a Thursday return a week later than it should have been.

  2. Two times. First, arriving at YVR Sunday night after a weekend of skiing to find out that my return to YYZ was actually booked for Saturday night; at least I could blame Dad for that one as he’d booked the trip. Second time, checking in at WestJet counter in Toronto and they can’t find me. They search multiple flights on multiple days, still nothing. Finally get computer my going (this is 2004) and pull up booking…it’s with Air Canada.

    1. Ryan, at least the Air Canada one was solvable with a short walk. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who does this!

  3. Booked Thanksgiving tickets for the wrong week about seven years ago.. Didn’t realize it until a month later when the next-door neighbor offered me Avs tix for Nov. xx, and I said I’d be gone for Thanksgiving.. He asked if I was sure of my dates, and that’s when it hit me.. Luckily UA was nice and waived the change fees for a then GM.

        1. FriendlySkies, I started flying UA in earnest based on the recommendation of others precisely when the good old days stopped!

        1. legalalien, I can’t say I was intimately familiar with the experiences back then, but I tend to believe you. 🙂

          1. FriendlySkies, chuckle. An appropriate way to frame it up for a customer service business.

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