American Airlines: Double Lifetime Elite Miles For Travel Through End Of Year

American Airlines is running a promotion to earn double miles towards lifetime elite status with flying through end of the year. This isn’t double redeemable miles, or double elite qualifying miles, this is just double credit towards earning 1 million, 2 million, or higher tiers of lifetime status.

The promotion is targeted, and requires registration under ‘promotions’ in your AAdvantage account. (HT: Loyalty Lobby) Register by August 24, book travel after registering and complete travel by December 31 and those flights will earn double million miler miles.

It’s striking that they’re excluding previously-booked travel (ironic they want to offer less lifetime loyalty recognition to those who were being loyal and buying tickets early). But they don’t want to give out double elite miles to business they’d have gotten anyway, which is strange in a way because it can’t possibly cost them that much – either in terms of incremental progress towards a higher level of elite status, or in terms of fulfillment of that status once achieved.

Why Would American Be Leaning On Lifetime Status To Encourage Business

One million milers earn lifetime Gold (and 30,000 miles), two million milers earn lifetime Platinum (and four confirmed upgrades), and each million mile level beyond earns four more confirmed upgrades.

This year American is already counting credit card spend towards lifetime elite status. Why could they now be counting flights double, for some customers? Here are some possibilities:

  • Lifetime status is something the most committed frequent flyers care most about. This group is also underrepresented on planes with business travel virtually non-existent. So it’s a way to get your most brand loyal customers back in the air with incremental leisure travel.

  • They may have found it’s helped drive credit card spend.

  • They view lifetime status as cheap, it’s the promise of benefits later for business today

  • They lack creativity, it’s easiest to lean on the promotion they’re already running

  • They’ve invested in the tech updates so it’s easy to do, and remember they just laid off about 30% of headquarters staff

American has made elite status easier to earn this year but since they’ve extended status for current elites there’s little incentive to earn the same elite level as before. Unlike Delta there’s no ‘roll over’ of elite miles from this year towards earning status next year. So for most current elites travel this year is ‘wasted’. But some can make progress towards lifetime status if targeted for this offer.

American’s Million Miler Status Has Been On The Decline

I’m rounding the bend towards 4 million miler status. That’ll just earn me additional confirmed international upgrades which have been increasingly difficult to use in recent years. And the million miler program has been substantially devalued under current leadership.

  • The top lifetime elite status is Platinum, but they’ve added a new level that’s higher (Platinum Pro) for 2 million milers to be behind (previously those Platinum Pro customers would have had the same Platinum status as 2 million milers).

  • After elite status, the tie breaker for upgrades is spending with the airline over the previous 12 months. So elites buying more and more expensive tickets now are prioritized over those who gave a lifetime of loyalty but are no longer as active. (American similarly devalued retired employee benefits.)

Adding more lifetime elites at higher levels of status as a result of promotions doesn’t bode well for the likelihood of American improving the program.

American Needs To Fix Its Lifetime Status Program

There’s been some discussion around updating the lifetime elite status program. Here’s how to fix it.

Delta offers up to lifetime Platinum status, and an annual gift for million milers. United offers up to lifetime Global Services, and extends the lifetime member’s current status to a spouse. American’s program is less generous than competitors.

American should add lifetime Platinum Pro at 3 million miles and 10 years of Platinum Pro status or higher and lifetime Executive Platinum at 4 million miles and 10 years of Executive Platinum or ConciergeKey status. This would allow American to introduce a competitive lifetime elite status program without flooding the ranks with customers who earned their lifetime miles in the past via credit card spend and other non-flight activity.

Don’t Chase Lifetime Elite Status

Given American’s devaluation of lifetime status, and devaluation of benefits at United (which promised that annual confirmed upgrades to lifetime elites would remain after the Continental merger but eliminated those anyway), I don’t see it as wise to chase lifetime status. When it comes that’s great, but don’t give your loyalty now trusting a program to deliver benefits later.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. @ Gary — I’m at 2.9 Million LTM and currently want to avoid 3 Million, as I don’t have an immediate use for the useless SWUs that I would earn. Therefore, this promotion would drive me to fly competitors more.

  2. Not sure where you think DL gives an annual gift to their million milers. Unless it’s granting you a year of silver status. Both myself and my wife get nothing for years of loyalty.

  3. Cool. I will send a email to my CEO right now, telling him AA is offering double lifetime elite miles and we need to start travelling again.

    Oh wait…

    I mean I get that the airlines have to try…but there is literally nothing that AA or any airline can do to get me traveling again. That’s entirely out of their hands.

  4. I have been ex plat for many years was a key member for 6 years accumulated over 6.5 million miles all I get is lifetime plat. What a joke AA is

  5. Seriously AA, try to produce safe planes. Or block seats. Or something. I’m driving to from LA to San Francisco Friday because tickets are super expensive, and I don’t want to buy 9 of them to have an adequate perimeter.

    And before I get some puff argument about how the skies are safe: look at the CDC protocol for safe distance requirements. (6 feet.) look at every complaint about AA for the last 3 years. (Packing more seats into economy footprint.) HEPA doesn’t mean you are in the vacuum of space; you still have a significant risk even if health authorities haven’t put their contract tracing results on Google for you to find. :p

    Agreed with the comment that this is beyond their control (though it was made worse with their greed over the last several years), so stop flailing.

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