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Achievement Unlocked: 2 Million American Airlines Miles

For 17 hours on a Round-the-World trip, I flew on the longest currently operating American Airlines flight, from Dallas to Hong Kong. It’s 8,000 or so flight miles, and I ended the flight a millionaire.

Well, sort of—this flight helped me achieve a longstanding goal of earning 2 million AA flight miles.

Until a couple of years ago, you could obtain “Million Miler” status with American through any kind of miles added to your account, including miles from credit card signups, bank deposits, dining bonuses, online shopping bonuses, and pretty much anywhere under the sun.

At 1 million miles you earn lifetime Gold status, the lowest one, which usually requires 25,000 paid flight miles per year. Once I started focusing on American, I hit that target pretty quick with more than a dozen card applications (you could get two or three cards with them every quarter back then).

The real goal is 2 million, because then you earn lifetime Platinum (mid-tier) status, which actually counts for something. If I ever fail to qualify for Executive Platinum, the highest status for which there is no lifetime earning opportunity, it will be great to know I’m not totally shut out of worldwide lounge access and at the end of the queue for upgrades.

In addition to the lifetime status, there are a couple of other benefits that AA provides for achieving the goal:

At one million miles

  • 35,000 AAdvantage bonus miles

At two million miles

  • Four one-way systemwide upgrades

After reaching the first goal without a ton of effort, I kept going with credit card signups and other travel hacking all the way up to about 1.6 million miles. They eventually closed this loophole, though, and I still had 400,000 miles to earn the hard way.

Last week I reached the second goal, and the accomplishment was recognized almost right away in the AA system.

Did I feel like Ryan Bingham, the character played by George Clooney in Up in the Air?

Not really. There are lots of AA Million Milers, and the rewards are fairly meager. But it was fun. Arbitrary numbers can provide real motivation, even if others shake their heads at the goal in question.


Image: James