Double redeye — efficient or insane?

For those that haven’t caught on yet, I want to be one of the first 50 people to make it to 250,000 elite qualifying miles on United next year. That might just require me to get a bit more creative and efficient. One way to get more efficient is to do two mileage runs in a row. For example, fly from Tampa to Washington to San Francisco to Seattle to San Francisco to Washington (this flight is the redeye) to Tampa, and then doing the same thing over again. In other words, spending two nights in a row on a plane and knocking out about 16,000 elite qualifying miles in a weekend.

No doubt I’d be tired, but I think I can handle it. Actually, I’ve never done this before domestically, so it sounds like an adventure of sorts.

Thoughts? And please don’t tell me how painful your double redeye in international first class was, as you were pampered by friendly flight attendants, enjoyed caviar and Dom, and had a flat bed with a comfortable duvet and pillow to lounge in. 😉

Filed Under: Mileage Runs
  1. I vote insane. To be really efficient (that is, fastest to 250,000) you’ve got to do a lot more international flying. You’ve got way too much overhead on domestic MRs (actual flying time vs. time at the gate, taxiing, connections, etc) to have any chance at it. One SFO-SYD rt + connection over a weekend will best your back to back MR and that person will actually get some quality sleep. Learn to love the FD and plan out some international journeys.

  2. I’d say go for it. I’ve already booked BDL-ORD-LAX-ORD-STL-ORD-LAX-ORD-BDL, which includes 2 redeye flights, in January. This will be my first time as well 🙂


  3. Do it. You might not sleep on the first redeye, but you’ll be out like a light on the second. Oh, and don’t plan anything for the following day… you’ll need the rest.
    I did a double redeye back in 2006 on DL to requalify for PM: CLT-ATL-SEA-ATL-FLL-ATL-SEA-ATL-CLT. I did get upgraded on most segments, except for the first redeye, which probably goes toward why I didn’t sleep much.
    But you can do it… just know you’ll have to rest up afterward for a full day.

  4. Lucky, I was a domestic MRer until this past year. Believe me, knocking out those miles on an international flight (upgraded with SWUs) is a piece of cake compared to the domestic bag drag. I doubt SYD is as cheap as BKK is right now for a W fare.

  5. Hi Lucky-

    I did a LOT of this in 2009 and by the last transcon of the 4 you get really worn out. You start wanting to sleep in a bed and take a shower really badly by that point. You also get armrest sore if you do it in Y. To prevent this, use a pillow, blanket, or sweatshirt to pad the armrest starting with the FIRST leg! I actually vowed to STOP doing this to myself this year. Until September when the double RDMs from elite choice set in. Then you will probably find me on the plane doing quick turns for about 9 days in a row twice that month. I want to do more than 100K BIS in Sept.

  6. @Lucky — Living in SF, I find it fairly tolerable to fly double redeyes SFO-JFK-LAX-SFO over a weekend. However, I think TPA-IAD-SFO-SEA-SFO-IAD-TPA twice would be a bit too much for me.

    @HunterSFO — To reduce elbow soreness, fly in first class 🙂 (although I actually have the same problem after flying too much in domestic first)

    @Pat — International is definitely the way to go in my book, but since domestic is usually cheaper per EQM, it is a trade off between price and time/comfort.

  7. Not worth it… whether you do domestic MRs or Intl, the prize isn’t worth it for 250k EQM.

    Now if you wanted to start segment running in Cali…

  8. Catilyn brings up an interesting point. I’m curious as to how you pay for all of these “free” miles. From your posts, we know you’re a student and that you work, I believe, part time. So, someone else pays for your mileage runs? That’s good and all but hardly what one could consider free.

  9. @Flyer12 — vouchers from bumps/skykits/… ? 😉

    @Lucky — you’ve gotta be crazy. What are you trying to prove or gain? Do you think anyone has ever uttered the sentence “I wish I had taken more red-eyes” on their death bed? 😉

    @HunterSFO — re armrest sore — that’s what I used the pillows and blankets in Y for when they were available

  10. Lucky,

    Kudus to you on the plan. However, I think your posts would be much more informative if you could list the price you paid for the fare (unless publicising the fare would cause it to disappear). That would help many of us determine if MRs are worth it for us or not. Also, as other posters have mentioned, how do you get to buy so many tickets? Now while your finances are your own business, it would help to know!

  11. I’d say go for it.

    Did a RTW, with a friend, a year ago with 3 consecutive redeyes. And allthought I were out cold for 5h on the last flight, it wasn’t that bad afterwards. But it’s probably different from person to person. Flights were FRA-ICN-SFO-FRA. And the kicker is, it was all Y…

  12. I’ve done two 30 hour SIN turns this year and find that to be a rather easy MR for 20k, but the 30 hour break is what makes it tolerable. Two back on back red-eyes sound bad, but if you are able to route it with a good 5+ hour NS from the west to east coast, I don’t think it would be that bad if you have some ambien for those sectors. That will make it pretty easy since you will also get some sleep during the day and it will be like a normal day then.

  13. Wow, tough crowd! 😀

    @ andrewwm — Agree in general, but that’s going to cost me way, way more. I won’t be able to use vouchers for the most part (at least not domestic e-certs) and the cost per mile is still double or triple that of a well planned domestic mileage run. Furthermore, there’s always a better shot at bumps with more segments. My goal isn’t to be number one, but top 50, and I think I can achieve that with relative ease domestically.

    @ Caityln — The fare on such an itinerary is around $240 all-in. That’s before vouchers. How much will it cost me? That depends on how much United’s inventory management department feels like overselling….

    @ futureacnp — Ouch, LAX-ORD is even tougher. Kudos to you!

    @ Drew — Thanks. I figure the second redeye won’t be so tough, but the flights out west on the second trip will be filled with drifting in and out of consciousness.

    @ JOSH — This competition looks like fun, I can always use mileage, and I kind of want to get million miler soon on United (just a personal goal).

    @ Pat — No doubt you’re right, but I’m all about getting the lowest cost, even if it means painful flying. As much as I’d love to do BKK, it’s still quite a bit more than anything I could achieve domestically.

    @ HunterSFO — Thanks for the armrest advice. 100K in a month? WOW!

    @ Dan — And a 1K nomination. And also to get me closer to million miler. While I realize there won’t be any real benefits, it’s a personal goal.

    @ bmvaughn — Agree in general, but as stated above, I really want to knock out million miler ASAP (again, for no good reason, just a personal goal).

    @ Flyer12 — I pay for my own travel. I don’t get into exact numbers anymore about how much it costs me, but my mileage runs more than pay for themselves. Sorry for being vague, but there’s some things I’m better off not publishing.

    @ mudba — Classes on Mondays? Hah! I haven’t had one of those in years. Last time I had a class on a Monday or Friday was my first semester of college. Ever since I’ve been rocking the Tue/Wed/Thu schedule. Those days are hellish, but a four day (working) weekend makes it totally worth it with my travel schedule.

    @ Oliver — Nah, but I’d hate to be on my deathbed at 999,999 lifetime miles. I’d probably utter “but I should have gone for million miler.” 😀

    @ doubled — As stated above, there are some things I’m better off not publishing. The all-in fare on such an itinerary is about $240, but that’s before applying any sort of vouchers. And thanks to United overselling so much, I have quite a few of those. For $240 I can usually get a routing that’s 8,000 “butt-in-seat” miles, which nets me 16,000 redeemable miles before any other things I might get from the itinerary, the other benefits of status, or any promotions that may add to the attractiveness of the run.

    @ Olav — WOW!!!!!!

    @ bschaff1 — While I don’t usually do Ambien, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t need any meds by the time the second redeye comes along.

  14. Not crazy, I did 3 straight nights of (pretty much the longest possible) US midcon redeyes and then connecting directly onto a flight to the east coast and back this year, because of the way my timing worked out, not in a real bed for three nights running and really none the worse for wear. I’m older and less resilient, since a few years from being in my 20s…

  15. @Gene – Yes, but aren’t we all insane 😉

    @Lucky – You could try it once, and if you find it acceptable to do again, you’d reach MM faster… But maybe not something for every weekend 😉

    Some more info. It was as a non-rev, so no miles 🙁 (I know, should be banned from FT for life :-p) And it was accomplished in a little more than 40hours… Friday->Sunday. Flights were LH A346, UA B772 (Y+, but still Y) and LH B744. Funny thing, we landed in SFO before the flight left ICN… 😉

  16. Couple of month ago I did really wanting an AA EXP. I did planed 2 1/2 weeks noon stop MR, BUT each MR I have to stay overnight in a hotel so I can be freshen up for the next round.

    Well,I didn’t do it because I can’t handle sitting in Y.



  17. I’m doing my first truly “insane” MR this MLK weekend, and it includes a double redeye. Thankfully, it’s almost all in domestic F/p.s. C, and I have a buddy. I am VERY thankful that I have a pretty light schedule for Tuesday, and nothing in the evening!

    Not quite sure how/if I’ll survive. I feel like I could have easily done it when I was in college (given the hours I kept) but even just a few years out, it’s going to be quite a bit harder. :-p I’m thankful for one thing though – I can sleep anywhere, at any time. Especially on planes (I often don’t even remember takeoff).

    Go for it – happy adventuring!

  18. I think to be in the first 50 you’ll need to do some international runs.

    Oh, and my current trip includes sequences of 5, 0, 1, and 3 nights in a row up in the air. I’ve had worse!

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