Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines all have elite status programs to reward loyal fliers. For every paid flight that a passenger travels, they accrue mileage based on the distance that is used to calculate a status level.
Alternatively, airlines will credit a passenger one segment for each flight that is flown. There are hundreds of flight routes across the United States that are short in travel distance. Fortunately, the legacy airlines all offer a minimum elite mileage flight credit for each segment.
Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines each have a 500 elite mileage minimum for a flight segment operated by them. This means all flight segments and itineraries eligible for elite qualifying miles will earn at least 500 miles elite qualifying miles.
For example, a one-way trip from Greenville (GSP) through Atlanta (ATL) to Orlando (MCU) would earn 1,000 MQMs. This is because even though Greenville (GSP) to Atlanta (ATL) is only 154 miles it would earn 500 MQMs for that segment. Additionally, Atlanta (ATL) to Orlando (MCO) is only 404 miles and also earns a minimum 500 MQMs.
Passengers who are flying on a ticket such as in first class or full fare economy earn an elite multiple on the minimum elite mileage credit. Using the same example but with a discounted first-class fare that earns a 1.5 multiple would result in 1,500 elite qualifying miles. Both Greenville (GSP) to Atlanta (ATL) and Atlanta (ATL) to Orlando (MCO) would each earn 750 elite qualifying miles by taking 1.5x the 500-mileage minimum.
The legacy carriers all belong to an airline alliance that allows passengers to earn elite qualifying mileage when flying on partner airlines. Depending on the specific earning chart the partner airline will determine the how many elite qualifying miles.
Some discounted economy tickets may earn a portion of the 500-mile minimum less than 1 such as 1/2. This can result in only 250 elite qualifying miles for a route like London (LHR) to Amsterdam (AMS).