NOTE: Since the time of this article’s writing, Airmule has become available on routes between five additional airports in the U.S. & China: JFK, EWR, LGA, CTU & CAN. The longest available route for Airmule is now JFK – CAN, at 16,004 miles roundtrip, meaning it would require only 63 flights over the course of 24 months, rather than 77. And rather than flying 3.2x per month over that course, a traveler could instead fly only 2.6x per month and achieve the same goal.
Pretty explosive headline, isn’t it? Earning Million Miler status in less than 24 months is definitely doable, but tricky. Will it be easy? Definitely not. But would it be worth it? Absolutely.
This rare feat is a daunting task that typically requires decades of single-airline loyalty, hundreds of international and domestic flights, and tens of thousands of dollars, but what if there was a way to earn this coveted status at only a fraction of that cost?
Because unfortunately for most, the main roadblock in quickly reaching lifetime status is exactly that, cost. (Our attempts to manipulate time and lengthen a mile have proven unsuccessful. But stay tuned, we’ll update you once we do.) International flights (the quickest way to earn flyer miles) have been known to average about $1k per, and about 99% of the population simply don’t have the resources to fly the hundreds of times that it would take just to achieve such an elite level of flyer status.
So let’s take a deeper dive into the numbers and see how Airmule could help.
Earning The Miles
Airmule currently works with travelers flying on international routes between 6 select airports in the US and China: San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), San Jose International Airport (SJC), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). Routes need to depart from one of our select airports in the US and arrive at one of our select airports in China, or vice versa.
When flying direct, the Airmule route that earns the most miles is LAX to PVG, at 6,485 earned miles for a one way ticket or 12,970 roundtrip. However, many more-common non-direct routes first fly into San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Hong Kong (HKG), and surprisingly, Beijing (PEK). Meaning, a short layover every now and then could pay handsomely in the long run.
Additional miles earned flying from LAX to PVG, based on layover:
- SFO = 332 miles roundtrip
- SEA = 382 miles roundtrip
- PEK = 896 miles roundtrip
- HKG = 3,108 miles roundtrip
Assuming one were to only fly directly, it would take a traveler who started with 0 award miles roughly 77 roundtrip flights from LAX to PVG before they hit 1,000,000 miles, or roughly 3.2 flights per month over the course of 2 years.
Lets think about that for a second. Three to four flights per month, every month, for 24 months. Utterly exhausting, I’m sure. But achievable nonetheless. How so? Keep reading.
Arguably the most important question in this entire equation, “How much would this cost me?” The average 2-day flight price from LAX to PVG over the course of a year is about $763, according to our data. This would cost the traditional traveler who’s eying the 77 flight-mark more than $58k.
But not with Airmule.
Because, if one were to take dozens of 2-day trips with the sole intention of earning miles, we can safely assume they’d be flying with only a carry on, which means they’d have two free checked baggage slots on their departure trip, and two free on the return. If this hypothetical weekend mileage warrior were to fly each trip with Airmule and use all four of those available slots to courier Airmule shipments, they’d earn a total of $600 per flight ($150 per Airmule Travel Box. Each container requires one checked luggage slot).
Now let’s revisit that price. That $763 flight drops to $163, and that $58k you’d need now becomes a much more doable $12.5k.
It’s important to note that this method would require the airline you’re traveling with to award frequent flyer miles based on the distance traveled, rather than the cost of the ticket. And assuming you’re working a 9-5, you’d be giving up a fair amount of weekends and/or vacation time to lock this down. But once you do, no more mileage running and no more spending just to keep your status. It’ll be nothing but free first class upgrades, waived baggage fees, lounge access, priority boarding, priority check ins, etc. for the rest of your life.