Today’s featured article comes from Carol Margolis, founder of smartwomentravelers.com.
Many of us frequent fliers are looking forward to the December release of the movie “Up in the Air” starring George Clooney. We can relate. We are online each week, monitoring our airmile statements, carefully calculating if we will make it to the airline’s status level. With a sense of frustration, we may realize that we are just a few flight miles short of reaching status, even though it feels like much of 2009 has been spent “up in the air.” Do we surrender and wait until next year to fly again, or do we look for one last reason to jump aboard a flight and reach the all-important mileage level? Many frequent fliers do the latter, knowing that the benefits for the next year can more than outweigh the cost of the additional flight.
To what extremes have you gone to in order to reach a mileage milestone level? Travelers have told their tales of flying to another continent and back in the same day to pick up extra miles. There are also travelers who say they do their best work in-flight, so they fly many long flights to get their work done while accumulating airmiles. I do agree with getting quality work done in-flight, but I haven’t bought an airline ticket for the sake of working in my office in the sky (yet!). I have, however, been known to do Christmas shopping in order to cross the finish line on reaching a particular mileage level with an airline.
I was two thousand miles short in the last weeks of a recent December with no planned travel until January. One morning, I woke up early, grabbed a big empty duffle bag, drove to the airport and flew from Orlando to Minneapolis. Any good shopper in the U.S. knows that the Mall of America, our largest indoor mall, is in Minneapolis. And lucky for me, it met the number of miles I needed to reach status.
I got all my Christmas shopping done in one jammed-packed day, placing all my purchases into mall lockers until it was time for me to head back to the airport. I had a very full duffel bag of gifts by the end of the day with great items for everyone on my list. I even had time for a nice glass a wine before boarding my flight back home.
The Mall of America has three great benefits: (1) The airport offers a train that goes to the Mall, so no need to go outside in the cold weather. (This is an easy way to get a bit of shopping done with a long layover when flying through Minneapolis.); (2) no sales tax in Minnesota on most clothing items saves big dollars; and (3) the mall has many name-brand nationwide stores, so it makes for easy returns in your hometown.
Not only did I achieve the status level I was reaching for, but I had a very enjoyable and stress-free day of shopping. I highly recommend this holiday shopping strategy to anyone, even those not striving for a mileage goal. There are great malls and shopping districts throughout the country (New York City, Chicago, Dallas and more) with many easily accessible from a city’s airport.
So while we await the release of George Clooney’s movie “Up in the Air”, start looking for great flight deals for your holiday shopping adventure. You will want to do this year after year!
Carol Margolis is a well-traveled businesswoman, wife and mom who has collected countless pearls of travel wisdom over many years. She shares these pearls of wisdom by offering free tools, resources and strategies to travelers at SmartWomenTravelers.com and at her blog PearlsofTravelWisdom.com. She talked travel on the television show Great Day Houston, is a popular radio show guest and has contributed to USAToday.com, LATimes.com and numerous travel sites.