Thanks for asking. It comes down to a cost/benefit analysis where the cost in terms of money and time is less than the benefits of status and award miles. Flying for miles is a great way to boost award mile balances and elite status miles. In essence, the purpose of the flight is the miles accumulated, not the distention. Often times, I don't even leave the airport on these trips. It is not an especially efficient use of time and can cost 3 to 7 cents per mile flown, but I feel it is worth while (some of my friends think I'm crazy).
|US Airways Jets at CLT|
The maximum price per mile to pay depends on the person and situation. The first consideration is if the trip is needed to reach a status goal. Status is incredibly valuable when flying, so spending a few hundred dollars to reach the next tier is very worthwhile because of better upgrade chances, shorter lines, waved fees, and a more pleasant experience overall. The next consideration is the value of the award miles earned. Each Puerto Rico trip netted 17,000 award miles and those are worth about 2c each, my flight paid for itself with the award miles earned. Not every trip works out that well, but it does help offset the expense (if you just need award miles, credit card sign up bonuses are a faster and cheaper solution).
|ANA 777's at NRT|
Another theory is to fly as far away as you can, Singapore and Sydney are good bets, and make a small vacation out of it. I doubt I would enjoy flying to Singapore to turn right around, but a day or two in town would be a fun way to stretch my legs. One long trip could save a few weekends of domestic hops. Again the goal is to acquire miles, the final destination is a secondary concern.