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One million miles and counting

I’ve been a member of American Airlines’ AAdvantage frequent-flyer loyalty program for over ten years. Despite recent financial troubles with the airline, it’s easy to forget American Airlines was one of the last U.S. legacy carriers to declare bankruptcy proceedings.

What I’d like to share with this post is a few tips about “we love you” status. My experience has primarily been with American Airlines, and while there are differences between airlines’ frequent-flyer programs, there are similarities with respect to tier, minimum mileage, status duration, and perks.

Upon enrollment into the AAdvantage program, earning sufficient miles can get traveler into one of the following elite-status tiers on American Airlines (AA): gold, platinum, or executive platinum. To reach these tiers, one must have accumulated/flown within one calendar year 25-thousand, 50-thousand, or 100-thousand qualifying-miles, respectively. As AA is one of the founding members of the oneworld alliance, the three AA status-tiers also correspond, respectively, to ruby, sapphire, and emerald status on oneworld.

Cracking the million mark

I spent three years in AAdvantage’s executive-platinum tier. In my view, the best reward was the eight free one-way systemwide upgrades per year; a purchase of an economy-class fare was eligible for upgrade to the next fare-class. A real bonus for the upgrade was its “systemwide” nature. For example, if I flew AA Santiago to Dallas and AA Dallas to San Francisco on the same itinerary, I would call and request the upgrades. If I was upgraded to business-class on both flights, these counted as a single systemwide upgrade.

In the fourth-quarter of 2010, I surpassed one million miles flown on flights with AA and with oneworld alliance-partner airlines. I don’t have a credit card whose usage also collects miles. Apart from a couple of modest hotel and rental-car promotions, over 95 per cent of my miles total has been accumulated in the air. Going over one million miles on AA means I have “lifetime gold”, so long as the elite status program remains. A person attains “lifetime platinum” status when they reach a total two million miles flown. But sadly, there is no “lifetime executive-platinum” status. As of writing, I’ve got over 1.2 million miles.

AAdvantage status, Million Miler

In late-August 2011, American Airlines announced their Million Miler program to recognize flyers with grand totals with the airline and to describe the perks with the achievement. The Points Guy summarized the million-mile programs by the various airlines.

There are of course two additional and larger alliances: Star Alliance, whose members include United Airlines, Deutsche Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines, and Skyteam whose members include Delta Airlines, Air France, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. I’ve been collecting miles with Lufthansa with an eye to diversifying airline status programs and access to lounges.

With reduced travel, I managed to retain platinum status for 2011 and 2012. Platinum (AA) or equivalent sapphire (oneworld) status allows:

  • preferred check-in,
  • no baggage fees,
  • 1 or 2 pieces of free checked luggage (dependent upon partner airline),
  • preferred boarding,
  • entry into business lounge operated by a participating oneworld alliance partner (subject to capacity/restrictions).

During my RTW in 2012, the latter has played an important role in being able to use the lounges operated by other oneworld partner airlines. For example, I’m eligible to use American Airlines’ AAdmirals Lounge in Miami, Florida; Cathay Pacific’s lounge in Hong Kong; Qantas’ lounge in Sydney, Australia; the SLOW lounge (in partnership with British Airways) in Johannesburg, South Africa; and the British Airways lounge in London Heathrow.

SLOW lounge at JNB, Johannesburg, South Africa

SLOW lounge at JNB, Johannesburg, South Africa – 10 Oct 2012, Instagram

This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).

5 Responses to “One million miles and counting”

  1. Jen Kirk

    Wow, what a feat! Not too many in your club, thats awesome you’ve got that to brag about. I hope to hit half of that one day :)

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Thanks, Jen. I think that counts as “too much flying”. :) If you wish it, you’ll get it – but I also think it’s easy to forget just how much work travel can take! Hope to chat with you again soon!

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Adam. Thanks! The AAdvantage program has been good to me over the years. Still, I worry about the health of its parent AA, and quite frankly, I think their product, especially international economy, pales in comparison to their partner carriers in oneworld. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I said that they can’t wait to get rid of their “old” M80, B757, and B767 planes in their fleet. Thanks again for reading and for your comment!

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