Why Earning Frequent Flier Miles is About to Get a Lot More Expensive

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 takes off Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 takes off Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

(CNN) – It’s amazing what (literal) lengths some people will go to earn frequent flier miles. Take Ben Schlappig. Over his lifetime, he’s accrued about four million miles. Half of those, he estimates, were earned on “mile runs” — trips taken for the sole purpose of earning points.

Recently, he completed a dizzying, non-stop trip (London-New York-Los Angeles-Honolulu-Los Angeles-London-Miami-London-Los Angeles-London) that would set most people’s heads spinning. It took four days (three of which were spent almost completely on a plane), and he accrued 270,000 miles.

He admits that the journey was exhausting, but ultimately worth it.

“To put it into some kind of perspective, it’s enough miles for two first-class tickets between the U.S. and Asia,” he notes.

“If I would have paid cash for them, they would have each cost me over $20,000.”


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