American Airlines used to count miles from all sources – credit cards, online shopping, everything – towards lifetime status. As a result there are plenty of people not just with 7 figure lifetime miles totals with AAdvantage, but 8 figure totals. In the fictional book Up in the Air Great West Airlines counted all miles towards lifetime status and Ryan Bingham was on a quest for 1 million miles. He was being tracked by the airline along his quest and they celebrated his achievement when he reached it.
In the film version, George Clooney’s Bingham was an American Airlines flyer and on a quest for 10 million miles. Here he describes that when you hit 10 million “lifetime executive status, you get to meet the chief pilot Maynard Finch, and they put your name on the side of a plane.”
Here’s Clooney actually crossing 10 million miles inflight, and being recognized by the airline.
In real life most customers don’t get any special fanfare on American Airlines when hitting 1 million, 2 million, or subsequent million mile thresholds. Some time later members get notified of their benefits.
- One Million Miles. Lifetime gold (“for the life of the program”) and 35,000 miles.
- Two Million Miles. Lifetime platinum and four systemwide upgrades
- Each subsequent million. Four more systemwide upgrades
Now that American has introduced a 75,000 mile elite tier and has made revenue-based ConciergeKey as the actual top elite tier, Platinum went from mid-tier to second from bottom. And now that upgrades are prioritized based on recent spent, mere lifetime elites no longer flying as much are at the bottom of the upgrade queue for their status level. So lifetime status with American is less of an achievement to celebrate than it once was.
American Airlines in Phoenix
Reportedly American is looking at ways to improve its million mile recognition in light of the challenge that so many members earned so many miles that counted towards lifetime status before the airline started counting only flight miles seven years ago.
Customers still get excited about it. One million miles is an achievement in its own right, even where benefits are less than what’s offered by Delta or United. Customers regularly take to social media to celebrate it.
@AmericanAir today, on flight 1260 from DFW to SFO, this girl becomes a member of your million mile club. My grandfather retired with you and I’ve stayed loyal. Let’s not let this big milestone go unnoticed. Let’s celebrate! There were good times before EQDs… #memories pic.twitter.com/F2VetCMiYQ
— adgrad (@adgrad) February 26, 2019
Sometimes American Airlines will recognize the milestone live. This usually comes when you’ve pestered their social media team about it in advance, are someone with a decent following to get their attention. However there are reports of it happening.
Thank you @AmericanAir for celebrating my 2M mile flight. The decorations, the reception, everything was so unexpected. The airline has been so generous! Looking forward to my next million miles.
— Ben Woo (@BenWoo_) February 1, 2018
While I didn’t receive any special recognition at one million, two million, or three million miles and don’t expect any when I hit four million, I wasn’t surprised either to see a passenger recognized on a Phoenix – London flight for crossing one million miles. The rapping crewmember here is awesome (so is the background dancer), and so simply is that the passenger was given a bottle of champagne at the end.
PHX to LHR is always a long flight, but AA 194 flight attendants were awesome. Especially this crew that recognized a couple sitting across from us that just hit 1M miles flying with @AmericanAir ! pic.twitter.com/FzGHcY9KyH
— Rick G. Garibay (@rickggaribay) July 18, 2019
However this came about, I love the American Airlines crew that did this. One million miles is a special achievement even if loyalty program recognition isn’t quite what Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air made it out to be.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)