Nightly News   |  December 02, 2012

‘Mile runners’ race to rack up airline miles

‘Tis the season for extreme flying – the point being to rack up frequent flier miles and secure elite flier status. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight from the high ticket costs and crowds at the airports, to the cramps seats and the fight for space in the overhead bins, flying can be a bit of a headache. but for an elite class of frequent flyers, the perks make traveling much more of a breeze. and as janet shanlian reports they'll go to great lengths to hang on to that top tier status.

>> for the average traveller it's a sky high rat race .

>> once you get started, it's kind of fun.

>> these are extreme frequent flyers on a mission to rack up miles before year's end. it's a lot like the film "up in the air."

>> miles are gold.

>> reporter: miles can be used to travel for free.

>> it makes travel a comit more comfortable, it's important to get those upgrades, it's important to have that status.

>> reporter: that's why howie is expected to spend days on a ticket he can buy. it's expected to take him halfway around the world for $655.

>> my first flight is from kansas to atlanta.

>> reporter: new york was left and then overseas to istanbul, an 18-hour trip. from turkey, a flight to paris.

>> i'm running on a little bit of adrenaline right now.

>> and then to salt lake city , another 12 hours in the air. we caught up with him just ahead of his last flight, salt lake to baltimore. in all rapaport traveled 14,000 miles, but with bonuses, he earned 30,000, qualifying him for delta's diamond level for another year.

>> we're trying to beat the system and 65 countries use these techniques.

>> there's seminars about how to fly cheap. like his hawaii trip was $152 roundtrip.

>> he loves the game, he loves the chase.

>> reporter: you've got to have time to take the trip and the energy to survive them.

>> i'm exhausted.

>> reporter: for those warriors crisscrossing the globe in a race to