Tomorrow afternoon I will be departing for a mileage run to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
For those of you who are unaware, a mileage run is a flight purchased (with cash and not miles or vouchers) for the primary purpose of earning elite status qualifying miles in order to maintain or achieve a frequent flyer status. The truest form of a mileage run is when the passenger does not even leave the airports. Mileage runs are purchased generally with simply the cost per elite status mile as the deciding factor. (The ideal factor is to get or maintain elite status in the most cost effective or most convenient way possible. This, of course, will vary with each person due to a variety of factors.)
My mileage run tomorrow is intended to maintain my Premier Platinum flyer status with United Airlines, and while in true mileage run fashion the itinerary does say “SFO to SFO,” I will be spending roughly five hours outside of the airport exploring the city. That’s because the way the flight plan worked out, there is a 7 hours 19 minutes connection time while in SJU at San Juan, Puerto Rico. That’s just enough time for me to grab a taxi for a 20 minute ride to the heart of Old San Juan, where I plan on spending about five hours exploring the streets, the oceanview, the shops, and of course the good eats.
The total cost of my mileage run comes out to $326.90 including taxes and fees, which is an AMAZING price for roundtrip to anywhere in the Caribbeans! If I’m doing the math properly and if the mileage calculator is up-to-date, I should earn 7,284 premier qualifying miles (not to be confused with award miles, which are used to redeem for flights) from this trip, putting my cost per premier mile at roughly 4.5 cents per mile. With my Platinum status bonus, I should be earning 18,208 award miles from the completion of the flight as well, which I value at roughly two cents per mile or $364.16 total. If you value award miles as cash like I do, this is more or less a free flight to Puerto Rico for me. (I believe there are still flights at this price or cheaper still available for SFO to SJU if anyone is interested.)
Now, with so few hours to spend in San Juan, where do I go?
I should add that this will be my first time in Puerto Rico. Fortunately being a U.S. territory, my AT&T serviced iPhone, which I use while in the states, will still work and not incur any roaming charges. I am counting on that to provide me with a data connection for Google Maps, among other things. I also have the maps of Old San Juan and San Juan downloaded for offline use in my Maplets app as a backup. I have also taken a quick study of the online map of San Juan, so that I have at least a visual orientation of the airport and where I want to go memorized.
As for the where I want to go… that is where most of my planning time for this run has gone towards.
First, the NYTimes has a wonderful Travel section which I read religiously each morning. It just so happened that back in February, they published an article titled 36 Hours in San Juan, Puerto Rico. That was enough to get my feet wet to give the idea that if I am going to focus on a single area, Old San Juan is going to be the target and that Caficultura will probably be on my menu.
There is also a new San Francisco based startup called Mosey that making its earnest dive into the social media industry by providing travelers and adventurers with the tools to create your own adventure list. Think of it like a travel Pinterest or if Foursquare lists were a separate website. Sadly the numbers of lists for San Juan, Puerto Rico only amounts to a whopping uno (1). But that’s okay, because I will be adding another list for them shortly. 😉 Let’s add El Jibarito from that list onto my list.
Yelp, my favorite peer-to-peer review website for restaurant reviews, also exists in San Juan! Yay! From a quick search, I can already tell that the Puncto De Vista will also be on my to do list. (I, like many others, will generally flock to try the restaurant with the most number of reviews yet still maintaining a 4 star or better average.)
Three restaurants/cafes within five hours? Easy. And from the sounds of it, there will be plenty of shops to browse around and walk off the food!
Now as long as none of the flights are delayed, and I have no problems with the taxis, this should be a wonderful day trip to Puerto Rico. 🙂 Photos of anything tasty will surely reach my Instagram. More details will come via a follow-up post from me next week. I will also see if I can find something to add for the next reader giveaway. 😉