Guide to U.S. AAdvantage Lifetime Million Miler Status

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Many travel loyalty programs offer the opportunity to earn elite status for life. Normally, elite status should be earned on an annual basis, so it’s nice not to worry about re-qualifying for status anymore.

I’ve written in the past about Elite Lifetime Hotel status, including with Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt. Now, I take a look at the lifetime status levels offered by the major airlines in the United States.

I’ve written about Delta SkyMiles Lifetime Status and United MileagePlus Lifetime Status, so now let’s take a look at American AAdvantage Lifetime Status. If you ask me, American has the lowest elite lifetime program of the “big three” carriers in the United States.

How to get American AAdvantage Lifetime Status

The American AAdvantage Million Mile Program is weak. While Delta and United allow you to achieve Top Tier Elite Status for Life, American only allows you to achieve both entry level status levels with the Million Mile Program. I just don’t see the program as an incentive to stay with American Airlines for the long term.

Eligibility for American Lifetime Elite Status is based on the distance of flights to travel on American-marketed flights, plus base miles earned for traveling on flights marketed by eligible partners. This means that not all class of service bonuses, promotional miles, miles earned on credit cards, etc., count toward million mile status.

Only miles flown count toward US million mile status

Now let’s move on to the elite million US mile thresholds.

American AAdvantage Gold status for life (one million miles)

Those who earn one million miles with American Airlines receive AAdvantage Gold status for life, plus 35,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. Gold is American AAdvantage’s elite entry-level status.

American AAdvantage Platinum Lifetime Status (Two Million Miles)

Those who achieve two million mile status with American Airlines receive lifetime AAdvantage Platinum status, along with four system-wide upgrades, which can be used to upgrade any American Airlines flight. Platinum is the lower mid-level status of American AAdvantage.

Rewards for other US AAdvantage thresholds in millions of miles

While AAdvantage Platinum status is the highest Lifetime Elite status you can get, you receive four additional one-way system-wide upgrades for every additional million mile milestone you cross, without any limit.

Earn system-wide upgrades when you cross the million mile thresholds

American AAdvantage Lifetime Status FAQs

While the above covers the basics of the US Million Mile Program, let me answer some of the questions people may have about the program.

Can You Earn American Status For Life With Credit Card Spending?

These days, credit card spending does not in any way contribute to Americans’ million mile status. Yes, you can earn loyalty points with AAdvantage credit cards, but lifetime status is now only earned through “end-to-end” miles flown.

How can you check the progress of your US Million Mile Status?

You can check your progress towards Million Mile Status directly on the American Airlines website. Simply log into your AAdvantage account, navigate to the “Your Activity” section, and at the top right, you will see your Million Mile Balance listed.

What counts for US Million Mile Status?

Today, only flight distance on flights operated by the United States, plus base miles earned for traveling on flights marketed by qualifying partners, counts toward AAdvantage status in millions of miles.

Do millions of US miles expire?

Miles towards the million mile status will continue to accumulate for the life of your account. Unlike loyalty points, they are not reset every year.

Also, keep in mind that miles toward million mile status are completely separate from redeemable miles, as you cannot use million mile miles for anything. It is simply a count of the total number of miles you have flown over the years on qualifying flights.

What are the benefits of AAdvantage Gold & Platinum status?

AAdvantage Gold is American’s entry-level elite, and benefits include the following:

  • Free checked baggage
  • 40% mileage bonus
  • Main cabin Free additional seats 24 hours before departure
  • Automatically requested upgrades on flights 500 miles or less, and on flights over 500 miles, you must use upgrade stickers

AAdvantage Platinum is American’s next top elite level, and benefits include the following:

  • Two free checked bags
  • 60% mileage bonus
  • Main cabin Additional seats at time of booking
  • Oneworld Sapphire status, which includes lounge access on international routes
  • Automatically requested upgrades on flights 500 miles or less, and on flights over 500 miles, you must use upgrade stickers
Earn elite status for life with the Million Mile Program

The US Million Mile Program Isn’t Competitive

The US Million Mile Program is significantly less rewarding than Delta and United’s, so let me give you a bit of background first.

Until 2011, American counted all AAdvantage miles earned toward Million Mile Status. In other words, if you accumulate two million miles with credit cards, you will achieve AAdvantage Platinum status for life. Back then, it was hugely lucrative, especially since Platinum status was more valuable than it is now. An American loyalist could easily earn two million mile status with just a few years of loyalty.

Then the rules changed in 2011, and only “end-to-end” miles started counting towards lifetime status, so it became much more difficult to earn. The problem is, the rewards haven’t improved for those who have achieved lifetime status “the hard way”.

I’ve been saying for a long time that I think it’s time for the American to revisit his Million Mile program, because it’s far worse than what’s being offered by Delta and United:

  • Delta makes it much easier to earn miles towards a million miles, since all eligible Medallion miles (including those earned by credit card) count; Plus, Delta lets you earn up to Diamond status for life
  • United calculates miles toward million mile status in much the same way as American, except you can earn Global Services status for life, and you can even designate a companion for your status.

I get the challenge from the American point of view. The airline has some members with a grossly inflated million miles total, given that back then, all miles counted. There are certainly some 10 million miles there that haven’t really flown much in America.

What do I think the American should do? At the bare minimum:

  • Honor the million miller levels everyone has currently received
  • Add three million miles and four million miles lifetime Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status, calculated using the new system (based on how much you’ve stolen rather than how many miles you’ve accumulated)

I think this should be the absolute minimum. It would be really great if American offered Key Lifetime Concierge status or Lifetime Status to a companion (like United), but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Hope American revisits their million mile program

At the end of the line

American Airlines’ Million Mile Program offers elite status for life. You can earn AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status after exceeding one or two million lifetime miles, respectively. After that, you earn no more than four system-wide upgrades for each additional million miles you cross.

The US Million Mile Program is much weaker than that offered by Delta and United, and that’s not really something to consider when deciding whether or not to be loyal. I would like American to review their loyalty program and make it a little more competitive.

What do you think of American Airlines’ Million Mile Program? How would you like him to improve?

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