Guide To American AAdvantage Lifetime Million Miler Status

Guide To American AAdvantage Lifetime Million Miler Status

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Many travel loyalty programs offer the ability to earn lifetime elite status. Ordinarily elite status has to be earned on an annual basis, so it sure is nice to be able to not worry about requalifying for status anymore.

I’ve written in the past about lifetime hotel elite status, including with Hilton HonorsMarriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt. Now I’m taking a look at the lifetime status tiers offered by major airlines in the United States.

I’ve written about Alaska Mileage Plan lifetime statusDelta SkyMiles lifetime status, and United MileagePlus lifetime status, so now let’s take a look at American AAdvantage lifetime status. If you ask me, American offers the weakest lifetime elite program of the “big three” carriers in the United States (by far).

How to earn American AAdvantage lifetime status

American AAdvantage’s million miler program is weak. While Delta and United let you earn lifetime top-tier elite status, American only lets you earn the two entry level status tiers with the million miler program. I just don’t see the program as being much of an incentive to be loyal to American Airlines in the long run.

Qualifying for American’s lifetime elite status is based on the distance of flights for travel on American marketed flights, plus the base miles earned for travel on eligible partner marketed flights. This means that class of service bonuses, promotional miles, miles earned through credit cards, etc., all don’t count toward million miler status.

Only flown miles count toward American million miler status

Now let’s go over American’s million miler elite thresholds.

Lifetime American AAdvantage Gold status (one million miler)

Those who earn one million miler status with American Airlines receive AAdvantage Gold status for life, plus 35,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. Gold is American AAdvantage’s entry-level elite status.

Lifetime American AAdvantage Platinum status (two million miler)

Those who earn two million miler status with American Airlines receive AAdvantage Platinum status for life, plus four systemwide upgrades, which can be used to upgrade any American Airlines flight. Platinum is American AAdvantage’s lower-mid-tier status.

Rewards for further American AAdvantage million miler thresholds

While AAdvantage Platinum status is the highest lifetime elite status that you can earn, you do receive four additional one-way systemwide upgrades for each further million miler threshold you cross, with no limits.

Earn systemwide upgrades when passing million miler thresholds

American AAdvantage lifetime status FAQs

While the above covers the basics of American’s million miler program, let me answer some of the questions people may have about the program.

Can you earn lifetime American status with credit card spending?

Nowadays credit card spending doesn’t contribute in any way toward million miler status with American. Yes, you can earn Loyalty Points with AAdvantage credit cards, but lifetime status is now earned purely via “butt-in-seat” miles flown.

How can you check your American million miler status progress?

You can check your progress toward million miler status directly on American Airlines’ website. Just log into your AAdvantage account, go to the “Your Activity” section, and at the top right you’ll see your million miler balance listed.

What counts toward American million miler status?

Nowadays only flight distance on American operated flights, plus the base miles earned for travel on eligible partner marketed flights, count toward AAdvantage million miler status.

Do American million miler miles expire?

Miles toward million miler status will continue to accrue over the lifetime of your account. Unlike Loyalty Points, they don’t reset each year.

Also keep in mind that miles toward million miler status are completely separate from redeemable miles, as you can’t use million miler miles toward anything. It’s simply a tally of how many total miles you’ve flown over the years on eligible flights.

What are the benefits of AAdvantage Gold & Platinum status?

AAdvantage Gold is American’s entry level elite status, and perks include the following:

AAdvantage Platinum is American’s next higher elite level, and perks include the following:

  • Two free checked bag
  • A 60% mileage bonus
  • Main Cabin Extra seats at the time of booking
  • oneworld Sapphire status, which includes lounge access on international itineraries
  • Complimentary upgrades within North America on a space available basis, up to 48 hours in advance
Earn elite status for life with the million miler program

American’s million miler program is uncompetitive

American’s million miler program is significantly less rewarding than those of Delta and United, so let me first provide a bit of background.

Up until 2011, American counted all AAdvantage miles earned toward million miler status. In other words, if you earned two million miles with credit cards, you’d get AAdvantage Platinum status for life. At the time that was extremely lucrative, especially since Platinum status was more valuable than it is now. An American loyalist could easily earn two million miler status with just a few years of loyalty.

Then the rules changed in 2011, and only “butt-in-seat” miles started counting toward lifetime status, so it got much more difficult to earn. The problem is, the rewards didn’t improve for those earning lifetime status “the hard way.”

I’ve long said that I think it’s time American overhaul its million miler program, because it’s so much worse than what’s offered by Delta and United:

I get the challenge from American’s perspective. The airline has some members with heavily inflated million miler totals, given that back in the day all miles counted. There are definitely some 10 million milers out there, who haven’t actually flown American all that much.

What do I think American should do? At an absolute minimum:

  • Honor the million miler tiers that everyone has currently been issued
  • Add lifetime Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status at three million miler and four million miler, calculated using the new system (based on how much you’ve flown, rather than how many miles you’ve earned)

I think that should be the absolute minimum. It sure would be awesome if American offered lifetime Concierge Key status or lifetime status for a companion (like United), but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I hope American overhauls its million miler program

Bottom line

American Airlines’ million miler program offers elite status for life. You can earn AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status after passing one or two million lifetime miles, respectively. After that, you earn at most four systemwide upgrades for each additional million mile threshold crossed.

American’s million miler program is much weaker than what’s offered by Delta and United, and it’s not really something to consider when deciding whether to be loyal or not. I wish American would overhaul its lifetime status program, and make it a bit more competitive.

What do you make of American Airlines’ million miler program? How would you like to see it improved?

Conversations (25)
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  1. Guest Guest

    I have been dedicated to AA for ~ 30 years and I was pleased to receive platinum status for l life. Then AA added platinum pro so essentially my status was downgraded. I should have been loyal to United since now that I have passed 4M miles had they been in United I would be 1K for life. Unfortunately AA is a poor airline to be loyal toward since they are not loyal back.

  2. Wallace Guest

    American airline loyalty program has become much weaker after I became a million miler over a decade ago. When I look back the perks were a lot better. Now it’s so weak and just the same as a silver status as on United. I rarely fly them anymore.

  3. CRASHLEY Guest

    I agree that American should have a way to achieve EXP for life (I got PLT for life at 3M), but they used to count all award miles toward that amount. I've actually only flown about 1.25M miles on AA but my MM balance is 3,853,033. I'll probably never make to 4M at this point.

  4. Mark S Guest

    I totally agree the Advantage multi million lifetime award capped at Platinum is a disgrace and I have moved to United as a result. With Il almost 5 million on American I rarely fly American anymore. It’s a shame

  5. Aaron Guest

    But do award tickets not count for butt in seat miles? Just flew from Chicago to Cartagena on a redemption and got 0 million miler miles from it. Was not expecting that!

  6. TimG Guest

    My wife and I have the million mile status - just Gold - and find it somewhat useful because we still get to board early-ish (group 4) and get slightly better seating option choices. Thats for life and that something :-)

  7. Andrew Diamond

    My commute is 337 miles. I would have to take 2968 of these flights to have... lifetime Gold? Hahahahahah I doubt AA will be in business by then.

  8. Randy Guest

    AA's Million Miler program is useless. Horrible. Gold status doesn't help one bit at the airport - there are no perks that make it worth it.

    Worse yet, even though you have lifetime gold, you have to re-earn that gold status before you can begin working on Platinum. I have the top 3 AA credit cards so I get all the same benefits 3x over but cannot begin to build on it until I've re-earned what I already have multiple times over. It's a shameless scam.

  9. Ron Mexico Guest

    I just want free bags and priority check in in the us. It’s just a bus—seriously. Put your head down and fall asleep. That’s what I do on all domestic flights.
    It’s a bus. lol.

  10. Bort Guest

    I don't think AA is proud of this program. Your million miler status used to be shown on your AAdvantage home page right under your current reward mile balance. Now it's after a link that doesn't hype that you'll see it there.

    AA should have just created a separate program rather than make such a big change to the existing lifetime program that would impact flyers differently. Call it Forever status or something like...

    I don't think AA is proud of this program. Your million miler status used to be shown on your AAdvantage home page right under your current reward mile balance. Now it's after a link that doesn't hype that you'll see it there.

    AA should have just created a separate program rather than make such a big change to the existing lifetime program that would impact flyers differently. Call it Forever status or something like that.

    Not that I care that much. At the rate I'm going, I'll hit 1,000,000 butt-in-seat miles and earn lifetime status around the time my lifetime ends.

  11. Al Percolo Guest

    @Ben - have you tried reaching out to your contacts at AA for comment? It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the subject , especially since the DL MM changes .

  12. Patrick Guest

    @Lee.. I wouldn't same COMPLELTELY worthless. My LT Platinum (earned a long time ago when CC spend and mileage runs worked) gets me free bags and free pick of seats. And infrequently I luck out and get a free upgrade.

  13. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Lifetime AA status is awful, and frankly, nearly impossible to get anyways. I'm an EXP and have been crazy loyal for the past 8 years and am between 300k-400k miles....like it will take me 24 years of the same loyalty to get "Lifetime Gold"??? Not worth it.

  14. Lee Guest

    Let's just agree that AA lifetime status is worthless, not waste any time discussing it, and move on to the next topic.

  15. Andy Guest

    I wish AA gave 500 miles minimum per segment like DL and UA. As someone who has historically done short, expensive East Coast hops , this has really hurt me in relation to Million Miler status. For context I was US Air Chairman and/or AA Exec Plat for over a decade yet still only have 750K miles for MM.

    1. Bort Guest

      My travel is similar. Although I'm happier than I used to be because those short, pricey flights are reasonably rewarded under the new loyalty point system for status.

  16. ORD EP Guest

    I remember seeing rumors a couple of years ago about AA considering revamping the MM program. I really wish that would come to fruition since it’s SO weak. Heck, I’d be fine if they’d give Platinum at 1M and Platinum Pro at 2M. I’m sure they have a way to dig into miles flown v. credit card miles prior to 2011; Citi should be able to provide that data to them in any case for...

    I remember seeing rumors a couple of years ago about AA considering revamping the MM program. I really wish that would come to fruition since it’s SO weak. Heck, I’d be fine if they’d give Platinum at 1M and Platinum Pro at 2M. I’m sure they have a way to dig into miles flown v. credit card miles prior to 2011; Citi should be able to provide that data to them in any case for longer term cardholders. Maybe one of these days AA will decide to catch up to the competition in a positive way

  17. justlanded Guest

    Although very minor, it would be nice if AA revamped the upgrade pecking order to move 'lifetimers' to the top of their respective bracket, ahead of the annual qualifiers...

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      LOL, Your actually off Your rocker. No WAY will they do that, and as a CURRENT heavy flyer/spender with AA I would be LIVID. Status and earning is MUCH harder today than when You were racking up your MM's on the company dime, before inflation, and getting CC spend as well. Make it make sense! Bahahahahahahaha!!!!

  18. jfhscott Guest

    @Jon,

    I have often contemplated the issue relating to pre-2011 non flight miles counting to million miler status.

    This is 2023. Yes, one could end up with a bunch of platinum pros whose non flight, pre 2011 earn is the source of qualification. But I do wonder what their travel patterns are now, when they are 12 years older. If they travel only seldom in their 2023 lives, being in the pool pf ex plats and platinum pros hardly matters.

  19. Jon Guest

    I had spoken to someone in corporate at an AA event a number of years ago about this and they told me their IT doesn’t have a way to differentiate flown million miles earned before 2011 from credit card spend.

    So if they introduced Platinum Pro / Executive platinum at 3/4 million miles there would either be a huge number of eligible members or they would have to change the program to only count...

    I had spoken to someone in corporate at an AA event a number of years ago about this and they told me their IT doesn’t have a way to differentiate flown million miles earned before 2011 from credit card spend.

    So if they introduced Platinum Pro / Executive platinum at 3/4 million miles there would either be a huge number of eligible members or they would have to change the program to only count million miles earned after 2011. That obviously would mean flown miles before 2011 wouldn’t count and would anger a lot of their most loyal.

  20. D3Kingg Guest

    Once American takes delivery of BOOM overture supersonic jets I’ll fly around 2.5M miles annually.

  21. AaronP Guest

    I made my 2 million late last year and used 2 of the SWUs to go JFK-DOH-JFK. It was nice...

    1. Mick Guest

      That’s a lot of flying for 1.5 days of upgrade. Better than nothing I suppose.

    2. AaronP Guest

      I forgot, I also got a phone call from AA :)...

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TimG Guest

My wife and I have the million mile status - just Gold - and find it somewhat useful because we still get to board early-ish (group 4) and get slightly better seating option choices. Thats for life and that something :-)

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Guest Guest

I have been dedicated to AA for ~ 30 years and I was pleased to receive platinum status for l life. Then AA added platinum pro so essentially my status was downgraded. I should have been loyal to United since now that I have passed 4M miles had they been in United I would be 1K for life. Unfortunately AA is a poor airline to be loyal toward since they are not loyal back.

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Wallace Guest

American airline loyalty program has become much weaker after I became a million miler over a decade ago. When I look back the perks were a lot better. Now it’s so weak and just the same as a silver status as on United. I rarely fly them anymore.

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