For years now, American AAdvantage has had an unpublished million miler program where all miles, including those earned from credit card spending and other partner activity, counted towards lifetime elite status. American AAdvantage members could literally buy their way to elite status through credit card spend without having to fly on American Airlines.
American was the only U.S. carrier that counted all earned miles when tallying up miles for lifetime elite and members often speculated that AAdvantage would change their rules for lifetime elite qualification. Effective Dec. 1, 2011, only AAdvantage base miles earned by flying on American Airlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection or any partner airline that participates in the AAdvantage program will count towards Million Miler status. In other words, from Dec. 1, only butt-in-seat miles (BIS) will be counted.
To soften the blow for some members, there is a limited-time offer for cardholders of the new Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. Cardholders earn one mile per dollar spent on eligible purchases, and through December 2012, miles earned from credit card spend with the World Elite MasterCard will count toward Million Miler status. Bonus miles and additional miles earned through special offers will not count. Elite bonus miles and class-of-service bonuses are also excluded from the lifetime elite tally.
AAdvantage members who reach 1,000,000 Million Miler miles will receive lifetime Gold status and 35,000 bonus miles (which can be exchanged for eight 500-mile upgrades). Members earning 2,000,000 Million Miler miles will receive lifetime Platinum status and four one-way systemwide upgrades. And for every subsequent million-mile threshold, members will receive four additional one-way systemwide upgrades.
Members will be able to view their progress towards Million Miler status on AA.com beginning Dec. 1, 2011. Your beginning Million Miler balance will include every AAdvantage mile you have ever earned so if you are close to a million miles on Dec. 1 when the program changes, you won’t need to start over. Members who have already earned Million Miler status under the old program will retain their status when the program changes. Visit http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?5146 for more information.
Bottom line: Compared to other million miler programs, American AAdvantage was generous in allowing all earned miles to count towards elite. And the program made the announcement about the change at the end of August, giving AAdvantage members three months advance notice. Members who are close to an elite threshold can transfer hotel points into miles, spend a lot on a co-branded credit card or complete other partner activity before the program changes. And Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard members have another 12 months where purchases will count towards Million Miler status. Keep in mind, however, that the World Elite card has an annual fee of $450.