We requalified as UA 1Ks for 2010 while flying between Sydney and Auckland on Air New Zealand during our recent trip Down Under. Those flights haven't been entered yet (mileage on partner airlines is often slow in posting - always keep your boarding passes) We're each sitting at around 105000 EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) for the year, i.e. we've flown 105000 miles on UA and two Star Alliance partners so far in 2009, along with 2440 miles on Qantas between Sydney and Cairns.
We'll add another 12308 EQMS within the next couple of weeks as we fly to and from our upcoming cruise YVR-ORD-LHR-ARN* May 31, returning June 17 LHR-ORD-YVR.
FlyerTalkers sometimes describe EQMs as BIS (Butt-in-Seat) miles, although you can also earn status-qualifying miles by using a United Visa card, for example.
Why do we do it? The direct result of earning "high status" on airlines such as UA is that we generally get treated by our airline the way we think everybody should ideally be treated. We're getting set to "endure" our first flight in Economy over the water in a couple of years or so, since our upgrade ORD-LHR hasn't cleared. Still, we'll be seated in Economy Plus in an exit row and do just fine, and there's still a small and doubtful chance our upgrade might clear. The vast majority of our flights are in Domestic First Class and foreign Business Class.
The answer to the larger question though is that we simply love to travel. Our favorite destination is always "the next one," especially someplace brand new that we haven't yet visited, a list that includes Russia, Estonia, Poland and Finland on our upcoming cruise.
We've already seen so many of the places Brian read about in Richard Halliburton's wonderful Book of Marvels for children. Halliburton, incidentally, was an amazing and complicated individual, hopefully more complicated than Kathy and Brian put together. He certainly could write, especially for young people in a non-condescending way that still works 70 years after he disappeared while sailing a junk across the Pacific in his last adventure.
As for us, we're not that adventurous; however, airlines and their fare wars provide an almost literal magic carpet for anybody who wants to invest the time and historically tiny amounts of money. It never ceases to amaze us that we can travel affordably almost anywhere in the world we decide to go.
Or, maybe we've just developed a craving for airline food.
"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
*Vancouver-Chicago O'Hare-London Heathrow-Stockholm