Changes finally coming to American’s million miler program?

American has long been the most generous airline when it comes to “calculating” million miler status. While United only counts actual flown “butt in seat” miles on United flights towards million miler status, American counts all miles earned towards million miler status. In other words, if you spend a million dollars on an American Airlines Citi credit card, you would earn Gold status for life, while two million miles gets you Platinum status. It’s worth noting that United gives you Premier Executive (mid tier) status for life if you make million miler, but those are actual, flown miles, so it’s tougher to accomplish.

Anyway, there have long been rumors that American would be changing their program, given that it’s just so generous to offer million miler status with a million miles earned. Well, it appears there’s finally a “hint” of some changes coming. Per this FlyerTalk thread, the American Airlines mobile website now lists the following on the account activity page, which wasn’t there before:

AAdvantage miles earned through select mileage activity count toward Million MilerSM status.
The Million Miler program rewards AAdvantage members with additional benefits when specific mileage thresholds are achieved.
To learn more, read about the Million Miler program

Now, that doesn’t say anything about what will and what won’t count, but it’s a clear indication that changes will be coming.

It will be interesting to see how they change the program. Will all miles from flying count towards million miler, including elite bonuses and promotional miles? In other words, will credit card miles be excluded? Or will only actual “butt in seat” miles qualify, like at United? If that were the case, American would be pretty uncompetitive, given that they offer Gold (low tier) status at million miler, while United offers Premier Executive (mid tier) status.

The other question is to what extent this will be retroactive. Will miles earned through credit card spend in the past still count towards million miler, or will they retroactively change their policy for those that haven’t yet achieved the threshold?

There are lots of questions and not a lot of answers. It’s pretty clear something is changing, though…

Filed Under: American
  1. I’m at just over 900k lifetime with AA and this is giving me extreme gas and diarrhea thinking about missing out on lifetime Gold. Seriously, how cool would it be to have priority boarding, free checked bags, etc for the rest of the life of the program?

    If any changes to the credit card earning do occur, I hope it’s only for Starwood Amex transfers to AA, not for AA miles earned directly through their partner Citibank.

  2. So lucky, are you gonna MR for lifetime GOLD before they change the program? I bet you can get 1M (or 2M) in a couple weeks!

  3. DL awards mm status based on mqms (their EQPs). Gut says AA will go that way. (just speculation however)

  4. If you are a UA FF any you should credit *A flights to CO as they seem to count them as lifetime miles, unlike UA. But who knows what they will do when they combine the programs.

  5. Bummer, I was planning on transferring SPG point to AA in 2013 to get to 1M, but I guess I won’t be able to do this in time.

  6. Oy, I’m on pace to make 1MM in a few short years (with less than 30k lifetime BIS). I will be very disappointed if this fails to pan out.

  7. The assumption has always been that it would be butt-in-seat miles and SOME other miles but not ALL other miles which would continue to count, and that the delay in implementation has been (1) IT challenges nd (2) changes in leadership [3 presidnets in about 3 months last year].

    I admit I didn’t expect to see the change actually happen during AA’s 30th year celebrations.

    Will be interesting, I don’t expect a retroactive calculation but guess I could be wrong there! Too bad, I’m sitting at ~ 2.5mm and was looking forward to my next set of eVIPs!

  8. Yeah, this is pretty disappointing. As someone who just started the road to MM status this will pretty much ensure that it never happens. If/when this change goes into effect I just have to imagine its only going to be killing it for a very small subset of travelers.

  9. change away, I’m already at 2.4 Million AAdvantage miles so I’ll enjoy Lifetime Platinum status. Maybe if they make this change I won’t have to compete as hard for comp upgrades in the future – YES! change away!

  10. I’m sitting at 999,425 right now and have been waiting for 4-5k miles from many sources to hit for the past week, so this is REALLY making my blood pressure rise! I have immediately setup another small SPG transfer and thought about buying miles. I ended up calling the AAdvantage desk and the CSR (who doesn’t know about a change to the MM program) said that I should be fine if I’m just waiting for them to hit my account. The POST date of the miles will indicate that I had 1MM before today since the miles I’m waiting on will have a post date of Jan-Mar (AAeshopping takes FOREVER sometimes…). The AA CSR added a bunch of notes to my account from what we talked about and gave full name with location and that I can personally come see her if I have any problems getting lifetime gold. Crossing my fingers and checking my AA account early every morning!

  11. @Jim – if you 2.4m are butt-in-seat miles you might be OK. There is no guarantee it won’t be a retroactive credit dropping you, like me, down to Gold. I have about 2.6m miles earned but probably less than half are flown. šŸ™

  12. Finally there may be real recognition of actual flown miles. I’m at 2.1 million of which none was generated by credit card usage. I have always felt that sitting in the seats and flying the miles should be the standard by which perks are doled out. I was so ticked off a few years back that I started to fly Continental and Luftunsa exclusively………could have easily posted an additional 400k on American. I’m really curious as to what they plan to do for the multi-million mile customer.

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