Reader question: What is ‘minimum miles’?

In my last post I wrote about earning a minimum of 500 miles for flights taken. This prompted a question from a reader – what is this minimum miles you speak of? Well, here is the answer.

Airlines award miles for flights based on the miles flown. For flights that are very short – less than 500 miles, most airlines award at least 500 miles. This is known as minimum miles award. Different airlines have different rules as to when they would award these minimum miles. Some airlines give them to all passengers. Others use this as a way to reward their elite members and only award the minimum 500 miles to their elite status qualifiers. The rest get actual miles flown. This gets more complicated with partner flights. As I mentioned in my previous post, United airlines was awarding actual miles flown to all its passengers, including Elite status holders for flights flown on US Airways. This was appears to have been reversed. United still gives actual miles flown to non-elite members on all flights, including its own flights.

The 500 mile minimum, as you can imagine can add a lot of extra miles for folks flying short segments. If you fly five 200 mile segments, instead of 1,000 miles, you will get 2,500 miles with the 500 mile minimum earned.

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