Hitting 3 Million Lifetime Miles On American Airlines

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past few days.  I had minor surgery on my elbow Wednesday, so I’m typing one-handed with my left hand (and I’m a righty).  Someone with more free time might have gotten a bunch of posts written ahead of time.  That would have been smart, but alas, that’s not what happened.

I’m away from home for the day which means I also can’t complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Randy Petersen until tomorrow when I have the big goofy plastic cover to protect my damaged wing.  Look for more on that soon….

I’m now well into my second decade of being interested in obsessing about miles and points.  Some choices made early on yielded positive results with certain programs, but it’s hard to say how that will help me with travel over the next decade.

I recently crested 3 million miles with American Airlines, which is at least a bit odd to say since I just recently broke the million miles flown barrier.  Ironically, I crossed 3MM on my way from DFW to my home airport of IAD. With a home base of IAD, I’ve had a very healthy diet of stopovers at DFW over the years.

Lifetime Miles

Up until a few years ago, any miles earned through the American Airlines AAdvantage program counted towards lifetime status.  Any.  Flight, credit card, surveys, shopping mall purchases, transfers.  And, since I was an avid American Airlines flier, I decided back in 2004-ish that my primary goal was to amass 2 million miles in the AAdvantage program as quickly as possible.  Since this portion of the program was an unwritten benefit at the time, I didn’t want to risk missing out.

2 million miles would earn me Lifetime Platinum, mid-tier status with American Airlines.  I already had a reasonable amount of flight miles and wasn’t focused on other lifetime statuses.  As the dust has settled, the folks who earned lifetime top-tier status with Continental Airlines ended up with the biggest windfall, getting 1K status from United Airlies after the airlines merged.

I know there were times I was irrational when I made decisions to push points from my Starwood Preferred Guest account to American Airlines.  But, hey, a goal’s a goal.

Having long passed 2 million, 3 million came a bit more slowly due in large part to the fact that American changed the rules a few years ago to count only flight miles.  Not the end of the world, as the reward at 3 million miles is less aspirational than 2 million, and debatably less than it used to be as my father tells stories of getting crystal in the mail from American Airlines when colleagues of his crossed 1 million miles.

The current reward is 4 systemwide upgrades (SWUs), which posted to my account almost instantly after my last flight posted.

Lifetime Miles

The SWUs are valid for a one-way upgrade on any AA-operated flight to the next class of service on almost any paid ticket.  Since they don’t expire until 2016, I’m sure to get some good value out go them.

As you can see by the totals in the first graphic, I amassed an additional half million miles before I hit he 3MM flight mile tier.  And, it’s taken 6 heavy years of flying to get me to 1 million miles flown.  Given that, it’s going to be quite a while before I have another million paid miles on American Airlines.

With less than 400,000 lifetime miles on United Airlines and a declining product there, the only other lifetime status in my future will be with hotels.

Well, I am almost 12 years into lifetime status with my lovely wife, Michelle.  Maybe I’ll just work on that!

Are you pursuing lifetime status with an airline or hotel?  How much further of you have to go?


    1. AL, 3 million has the same lifetime benefits as 2 million, lifetime Platinum. There’s no lifetime Executive Platinum, so just the 4 SWUs at 3MM (and subsequent MM achievements).

  1. Do you mind sharing how you amassed 3.6 million AA miles? You mention you accumulated 1 million from flying, but what about the rest? Has it been through cc churning? MS’ing? etc…

    1. Ron, I have no problem sharing how I got to 3.6. I wish I kept better track for exact numbers. I’ve got about 600K paid flight miles, most of which were as a Platinum or Executive Platinum, which means a 100% mileage bonus. So, that’s 1.2MM. I figure I transferred somewhere between half a million and a million from SPG. In retrospect, had I know lifetime status from all mileage sources would have stayed around as long as it did, I would have transferred less. I probably earned a few hundred thousand from car rentals. The rest (more than a million) are shopping portal and other bonuses, like flowers, surveys etc. That’s a testimony to how small bits of mileage add up.

  2. I am just shy of 1MM with UA, about 130K short so between now and December I am doing a massive run to get the points quickly. My flights are 90% not on UA, only a couple of cross-country domestics are on UA. Obviously, doing this while it’s still a mile program as opposed to a greedy cash program. Luckily I am not American citizen so the Lifetime *AG I receive will be used on all other *A airlines rather than the greedy UA. The devaluation of MP by UA would have to be the single most act of corporate greed I have ever witnessed. UA are nothing but bastards. I hope which ever bright-spark thought of this gets fired when they realise their customers are leaving in droves, headed at the front by me. Goodbye UA and good riddance, you bastards.

    1. Robbo, I think I’d feel the same as you if I was nearing 1MM miles on UA. I’d want to wrap up the 1MM, but I don’t think I’d be looking for lots of revenue flights on UA going forward unless you spend a bunch of cash on flights now. The * Gold status should be beneficial outside of the US. Good luck squaring it away!

      1. Thanks for the advice, always good to get this info from colleagues who are experts in this area. I am just so fed up with UA. I remained loyal to them for years, even when Ansett Airlines went under in Australia in 2001. We have not had a *A member since. The closest we get in NZ and SQ but nothing domestically and nothing between Australia and West Coast USA. I still remained loyal. 1990 I joined. Once I get the permanent *AG I’ll punt them forever except for domestic USA which is not a lot for me anyway fortunately. I can’t help but think though, they are deliberately running MP into the ground. The cost of MP must be a massive liability on their books.

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