Double miles. First class upgrades. Standby priority. Better call centers. Lounge access. There are many benefits to airline frequent flyer elite status.
The number of miles you need to fly to get elite status varies by airline but often 25,000 miles gets you the lowest level of status. The more you fly the higher your status level and the better your benefits can become.
Why you want to get to the next level of frequent flyer status: more miles and more perks
The difference in perks between different levels can be staggering. For example, on American and United if you fly 45,000 miles per year you get the same mileage bonus rate (25%) that you get if you fly 25,000 miles per year. So with the 25% bonus and flying 45,000 miles yearly you will earn 56,250 miles per year. But if you can get up to 50,000 miles per year your bonus goes to 100%. So flying 50,000 miles per year would change the number of miles you earn from 56,250 per year to 100,000 miles. By finding a way to fly 5,000 more miles you earn an extra 43,750 miles. (my calculations assume no other bonuses, etc.)
As another example, if on United you fly 95,000 miles you get the same benefits as if you fly 50,000 miles. But if you can fly 5,000 more miles and get to 100,000 miles you will get 6 international one-way upgrades per year, up to 8 other regional confirmed upgrades per year and lots of fees waived.
How to get to the next level of frequent flyer status: a mileage run
If it looks like you level of flying will get you close to status or the next level of status it might make sense for you to do a mileage run to get you to the next level of benefits.
A mileage run is an airline trip for the purpose of earning miles. You don't even have to leave the airport if you don't want to. The trick is to maximize the number of miles you earn for the lowest cost.
Lucky, from the One Mile at a Time blog, is one of the world's most prolific mileage runners. He just wrote a detailed post about how to find and book a mileage run. If you are thinking about a mileage run you should check out his post.