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 (AA) was one of the last U.S. legacy carriers to declare bankruptcy proceedings.
What I’d like to share here is something about the “we love you” status. My experience has primarily been with AA, and while there are differences between airlines’ frequent-flyer programs, there are similarities with respect to tier, minimum mileage, status duration, and perks.
Upon enrolment into the AAdvantage program, earning sufficient miles can get traveller into one of the following elite-status tiers on AA: gold, platinum, or executive platinum. Reaching these tiers (in 2012) means an accumulation within one calendar year of 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.
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.
Program-to-date miles which includes mileage bonus and credit-card promotions are not the same and usually larger than the number shown for miles flown. At the end of 2015, these two numbers are 1.27 and 1.24 million miles, respectively.
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. This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-qK.