It’s a new year, and the year-to-date balance in my American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer account has reset to zero. My goal for the year is to earn 50,000 elite qualifying miles (EQMs) so that I can keep my Platinum status for another year. It’s time to start looking for my next mileage run (MR).

The good news is that I will begin the year with a nice flight: my wife and I will visit Ireland on vacation. The trip to Dublin via Chicago will put approximately 9,300 EQMs into my account. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I will need to find 40,000 additional EQMs to keep my Platinum status. That will be quite a challenge.

I wrote last month about the reductions in airline service making it more difficult to find a good mileage run and used my two favorite mileage runs, Austin-Seattle and Austin-Portland, as an example. Sadly, things have gotten much worse since I wrote that piece.

I looked at AA.com today for a mileage run to Seattle on March 7; I did not need to spend the whole day in Seattle, as much as I enjoy that, I just wanted the miles. In December, I could do a mileage run to Seattle for $267; I hoped to find something similar or even less today. Was I in for a rude shock!

A Seattle MR on March 7 priced out at $370.40! That is not a good deal! I looked at March 14, one week later, and it got even worse: $529.40! That is a terrible deal! With my Platinum bonus I would be paying over 6 cents a mile for that trip!

The odd thing that jumps out at me is the huge increase, why does the March 14 ticket cost $159 more than the March 7 ticket?

Seattle is obviously not an option, so I looked at a trip to Portland on those two dates. March 7 priced out at $529.40, twice as much as I paid to fly there in October 2008! The air fare has doubled while the price of fuel has dropped in half!

I looked at a ticket for March 14, I found an itinerary that would get me from Austin to Los Angeles to Portland for $283, but there were no return flights that day. I’d have to stay overnight, fly back on the 15th, and the one-way fare coming back was $613, giving me a total cost of $942.00, and that does not include paying for a hotel for the night.

To put this into perspective, I flew to Portland and back in October for $218.00! The fare has tripled.

Given the idiosyncrasies of the price of airline tickets, these fares may be back to more affordable levels in the next week. If they are not, this will be a difficult year for me to do mileage runs