Want to become a frequent flyer "millionaire?" You might not know it, but you could be well on your way with your preferred frequent flier program’s currency to becoming a mileage millionaire.
Some airlines offer million-miler programs that track your mileage earning over the course of your lifetime. These programs reward million mile status customers that hit certain benchmarks with nice perks to thank them for their loyalty.
How it works
The way each airline handles million-miler status varies, and each airline offers different perks for each level within their status ranks.
Racking up a million miles in your frequent flyer account balance is not the same thing as achieving million-miler status. While an admirable achievement, frequent flyer programs differ in denoting what types of miles count toward a flyer's million-miler balance. All of the miles that you earn (or redeem) may not qualify for this unique status tier.
Being a million-miler gives you automatic elite status, and this is especially valuable now as programs become more competitive for upgrades and perks. Here’s a rundown of how each frequent flier program defines this coveted achievement and what you can expect if you reach that milestone.
Participating domestic airlines
Mileage Plan members can score million-miler status after actually flying at least one million miles with Alaska Airlines. Miles are calculated based upon the distance flown of each flight. Partner flight activity and bonus mileage earnings do not count toward the accumulation of million-miler status. You can track Alaska miles toward million-mile status on your account activity page.
At one million miles, members get MVP Gold status for life and a free meal or picnic pack when meals are served in the main cabin on Alaska flights.
At two million miles, members receive MVP Gold 75K status for life.
» Learn more: How to earn miles with Alaska Airlines
AAdvantage million-miler status with American Airlines is based on the distance of your paid flights or the base miles earned on eligible partner flights. You can track your path via the activity section of your AAdvantage account.
If you hit the million-mile mark, here’s what you’ll get:
At one million miles, you’ll earn AAdvantage Gold status for the life of the program and a 35,000 AAdvantage miles bonus.
At two million miles, you’ll earn AAdvantage Platinum status for the life of the program and four one-way systemwide upgrades.
For each additional million miles, you’ll earn four one-way systemwide upgrades.
The highest elite status you can earn with American via million-miler status is AAdvantage Platinum; flying more than two million miles only delivers more upgrade certificates, not a higher level of status.
» Learn more: Your guide to the American Airlines award chart
Delta Air Lines
Delta’s million-miler program is a rich offering with “complimentary annual Medallion status” awarded to those that achieve million-miler thresholds. Interestingly, Delta chose to not use the word “lifetime,” which seems to give the airline more leeway with future changes, but for now, it’s a generous year-after-year perk.
For starters, Delta counts all Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, earned toward million-miler status (including those of partner flights, through paid travel or credit card spending). Delta makes clear the calculation of MQMs on partner airlines on its website.
Counting all MQMs toward million-miler status is more generous than other airlines who base it simply on distance flown (or only on their own flights). If you buy a premium cabin ticket that earns bonus MQMs, those count toward your million-miler status. In addition, if you earn MQMs as a bonus based upon credit card spending, those would also count.
That’s a pretty good deal since, for example, you can earn 10,000 MQMs each calendar year after spending $25,000 on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Similar bonuses are available on other Delta co-branded cards. Terms apply.
You can track your million-miler qualification on the My SkyMiles page of your account.
At one million miles, you’ll earn complimentary annual Silver Medallion status and an appreciation gift that you can select from Delta’s website.
At two million miles, you’ll earn complimentary annual Gold Medallion status and an appreciation gift.
At three million miles, you’ll earn an additional appreciation gift.
At four million miles, you’ll earn complimentary annual Platinum Medallion status and an appreciation gift.
Delta does not award its highest Diamond Medallion status through its million-miler program. Note: According to their website, the gift benefit is currently paused, but will resume eventually.
» Learn more: Your guide to earning Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
The MileagePlus million-miler program awards its frequent fliers quite generously once they hit million-mile thresholds. Mileage toward million-miler status is based on the distance flown on United and United Express paid flights only; partner flights are not eligible. You can track the mileage earning under the My Account section of united.com.
While this may seem less generous than American and Delta, United does award its most coveted Global Services status through the million-miler program. That should be incentive enough for frequent fliers to keep their sights on flying United.
At one million miles, you and a companion will earn lifetime Premier Gold status.
At two million miles, you’ll earn 35,000 bonus miles, plus you and a companion will earn lifetime Premier Platinum status.
At three million miles, you’ll earn 35,000 bonus miles, plus you and a companion will earn lifetime Premier 1K status.
At four million miles, you’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles, plus you and a companion will earn lifetime Global Services status.
At five million miles (and each million thereafter), you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles.
What's more, this program is, perhaps, the most generous of the major U.S. airlines. It awards the same level of lifetime status to a companion — a two-for-one benefit.
The bottom line
These types of million-miler programs are an added incentive to keep travelers engaged with an airline. You don’t need to do anything to enroll; as long as you are a member of a frequent flier program, your eligible mileage earning is already being tracked toward your advancement as a millionaire; a mileage millionaire, that is.