Is the quest for million miler status rational?

At least once a week I’ll be one click away from booking an award ticket for myself to somewhere. Last week it was South America. This week it was London. But then, unfortunately, something always gets in the way, something that seems to compel me not to.

What is it? Well, the quest for million miler status. Hear me out. At my current pace of flying, I’ll reach million miler status next summer. By my current pace of flying I mean spending every weekend on an airplane, on a revenue United ticket. Million miler status with United gets you Premier Executive status (middle tier) for life, along with a few other goodies. I really want to lock in million miler status before the Continental and United frequent flyer programs merge, because Continental currently offers their million milers Silver status (low tier) for the person that earns  million miler, along with Silver status for a companion.

Now, it will be interesting to see what the million miler program for the new, combined frequent flyer program looks like. I’m guessing they’ll go one way or another here, or maybe devalue the million miler program further, as flying a million miles isn’t what it used to me. I assume the programs won’t merge until at least October of next year, so I could definitely lock in million miler by then. I’m thinking United won’t be giving out Premier Executive for achieving million miler status post merger. If they go the Continental way, though, I assume they’ll at least honor the Premier Executive status they gave United million milers, and maybe give them some status for a companion as well. If they go the United way, I wouldn’t be surprised if they only start offering Premier status for million miler, and then Premier Executive status for two million milers.

Anyway, that’s all speculation. The only thing that’s certain is that I want to lock in million miler status. God willing I’ll get a bit of use out of million miler status, earning it at the age of 21.

So instead of  making the next eight months nothing but pure torture travel, I’m trying to get as many weekends in cities I haven’t visited as possible. Next up, Monterey.

So, anyone else aiming for million miler status before frequent flyer programs merge? Any predictions as to which way the million miler program goes? And lastly, am I crazy?

You can bet I’ll be burning miles like crazy once I achieve million miler. And of course you’re all invited onto my million miler flight, if I actually get there. I’ll even do my best to have a special captain and/or flight attendant aboard.

Filed Under: United
  1. If somehow your millionth mile was during an SMD, that’d be epic to say the least…

    Totally feel you on use of miles…I only use miles to get award tickets for companions…why “waste” them on myself and get zero EQMs and zero lifetime miles? 😉

  2. Lucky,

    You are crazy, and I love it. I’ll be there for your million flight (even though I’m on the other side of the world.)


  3. I think you’re making a very rational decision.

    But unless you’ve got every weekend calculated out till you hit 1MN, take at least one weekend off and go to LON or EZE.

  4. I am in the same boat, but not 1MM, but 2MM.

    I like the idea of lifetime RCC membership.

    The only differences is I will probably at 1.75 mm by end of 2011, while you will likely to be at 1 mm already by then. I am secretly hoping UA could continue its existing policy of counting BIS on united metals as the basis of calculation.

    If they do main the old United program, I think 3 MM is realistic for me 7 years from now. 😉

  5. I have a similar issue, but “double” yours. I have 1.10M on UA, and .83M on CO. With my normal travel pattern over the next year I should be at a combined 2M when the programs join. I am a 1K on UA and have Lifetime Plat on CO. So what will I have after the combination? I’m hoping it’s the equivalent of 1P for life, upgraded to 1K for existing flying, PLUS the Significant Other benefit set at the higher of the two for the current year. I already have a Lifetime P-Club membership, so that benefit is not of interest to me.

  6. I would absolutely go for it if I were that close. I’ll be about 300,000 away at the end of the year, so just a wee bit too far for me to try the same. I’m rooting for you Ben!

  7. Are you crazy, yes, but then that’s part of the reason we enjoy reading your blog. Fortunately there are a lot of good destinations in the US/Canada, and many that are easily missed because you never think of them.

  8. As you know I am going for it too! Assuming I book zero travel for the remainder of the year I will literally be 100k away. I too am trying to get this done before the 2 programs merge!

  9. Your (and most of your readers, too) travel obsession is what most people consider irrational by itself. Is going for MM status before a potential policy change irrational? That depends if you are asking “normal” people or fellow travelers. If this is something you want, don’t ask, just go for it! And provide updates along the way!

  10. I hope the UA 1P standard is kept for 1MM status. I am nearly half way there, and I would be extremely disappointed if I end up only being 2P after earning 1MM status, if the CO standard is kept. I hope Mileage Plus is kept more prevalent than OnePass.

  11. I am at 840,000–so slightly behind where you are–but would HATE getting to 950,000 then have them devalue the benefits…

  12. My wife will be 60K away and I will be 72K away from 1MM on UA at the end of 2010. We have 17K worth of booked flights in Jan 2011. It would seem cruel for UA to change the 1MM staus for people who are close (e.g. 950K+) in 2011. Given that, I’m looking at every fare sale.

  13. Status is only useful to one who flies a lot. One who flies a lot earns status anyway. Lifetime status is simply a sop to a retired old fart to keep booking his once a year vacation with the same airline. At age 21, your lifetime status is of limited utility since you are likely to be earning a higher status (1K) on an annual basis anyway. It isn’t worth the extra hassle and expense to achieve.

  14. @Sean M: I disagree that it is of limited utility, as it allows for Lucky to focus on Lifetime status on other airlines to ensure benefits wherever he decides to work, he can enjoy the benefits afforded to elites, regardless of corporate travel policies, and without having to deal with the mess of a status match.

  15. I myself am within a few months of MM status, and I’m going for it as much as I can. *G for life is certainly worthwhile, IME.

  16. I sent a suggestion to UA that would not anger anyone at CO or UA:

    Passenger A – has 750,000 lifetime CO miles and 500,000 UA. After flying 250,000 more miles on the combined carrier they receive lifetime Silver, after flying 250,000 more they receive their lifetime Gold, I mean technically they really can’t be that pissed off since basically they were on that track anyway, but instead they reach Lifetime Gold faster, but still get their silver in 250,000.

    Passenger B- Has 750,000 lifetime CO and 0 UA. After 250K, they get their silver and after another 750K they get their Gold, hence they get it 250K earlier and they aren’t losing anything that they hadn’t previously had and it won’t really devalue the UA lifetime gold BIS problem.

  17. What’s to say 1P exists after the merger? They will just map you to the “equivalent”, which will be really an equivalent. One would hope it would at least be the *G level. I guess if it wasn’t they would hear about it. Interesting issue about will they merge lifetime miles? I guess they would…

  18. A few years ago I did a run for lifetime gold status with Qantas when they were making noises about spinning off their frequent flyer program. That didn’t happen but I’m glad I got the status locked in after being burnt with Singapore Airlines – they got rid of the lifetime status benefit (grandfathering those who already qualified).

  19. wxguy, how do you have lifetime Plat with only 830,000 miles on CO?

    Lucky, go for it. At least you fly them. I know someone (and you do to) that pushed hard for 1 million miles on American to lock in lifetime status, even though they had never flown them.

    But, to each their own. It made the guy happy.

  20. No not irrational… A Valiant Quest! 🙂 And if it makes you happy it’s worthwhile.

    Personally, I’m just shy of 1.2 Million Miles on United.

    A note to 1K members that I received today that had no mention of MM but info on a ‘new’ elite level at 75,000 Miles sent me out to the net looking for ‘secret’ information on the combined Million Mile program.

    Until reading here, I hadn’t even considered that with the Merger my UA Million Mile Status might be devalued. I had no idea what the OnePass program did for their MM.

    Guess, I’ll just have to hold my breath and hope for the best.

  21. I will achieve Million Mile status in April 2011 and mine has been a real struggle because I’ve done mine via all domestic miles. I have been battling breast cancer since 1999 and flying for a cure every since. I’ve participated in a lot of studies around the US and achieving this milestone is important to me primarily because no one believed I would live long enough to do it. Last year alone I flew 230,000 domestic miles and yes it can be exhausting. But I’ve also reaped some real benefits from being a flying guinea pig, I am alive because of my commuting.

    So when April 7th, comes around I hope you will all root me on. When I get back to Dallas on Flight 838 that night I will have lived longer than most women with metastatic disease and I will have finally made my first million. I hope to live to achieve 2 or 3 million, but honestly I’m 58 now. I want to spend some of my time traveling and seeing the world, not just doctors!

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