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The Complete Guide to Airline “Million Miler” Programs

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Christine Krzyszton

Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

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Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, deta...
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Many hard-working people have a goal in life of someday becoming a millionaire, but many travelers I know aspire to a far different numerical achievement: to become a Million Miler.

Yes, it’s true — hitting the million-mile mark of flown miles with a particular airline is considered a pinnacle of travel that many enjoy achieving.

It’s really the airlines’ fault…they hold out the carrot of perpetual elite status (for as long as the program exists) when a flyer hits a million flown miles! The ante is then raised to even higher status when multiple millions are flown.

But is achieving Million Miler status even worth the time, cost, and effort? When achieved organically, Million Miler status is definitely worthwhile; you’re flying the miles anyway!

For business travelers who rack up a lot of flown miles and eventually hit a million miles, benefiting from the ongoing status is a deserved reward.

But setting Million Miler status as your goal if you’re a leisure traveler who pays for every flight might be a foolish endeavor — and an expensive proposition.

With that said, there are leisure travelers who pay for flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, American Express Membership Rewards Points, Citi ThankYou Points, or other valuable credit card rewards currency.

These travelers would earn flown mileage credit towards Million Miler status with those flights while minimizing costs.

However you choose to achieve the Million Miler milestone, you might want some guidance and information on what awaits you when you get there.

In this article we’ll answer these questions about Million Miler status:

  • Why would I want to be a Million Miler?
  • Which airlines have a Million Miler program?
  • How do Million Miler programs work?
  • How do I track my miles towards Million Miler status?
  • Any tips on shortcuts to reach Million Miler status?

Hang on to your seat — we’re going to explore the journey to becoming an airline Million Miler!

A Porsche ride from one plane to another on Million Miler day. Image Credit: Christine Krzyszton

Why You’d Want to Be a Million Miler

The best and most practical reason to become a Million Miler is to receive lifetime airline elite status. Earning airline elite status on an annual basis has become increasingly difficult due to a trend in revenue-based requirements that must be met in order to qualify.

Million Miler, however, is a level of recognition you can achieve without having to jump through the hoops that are associated with qualifying for annual airline elite status.

For example, there are no revenue requirements or the need to reach a specific level of spending on a credit card to waive those requirements.

You fly, you earn miles, you live long enough…and you become a Million Miler. It’s all in your control (except maybe for the living long enough part).

When you reach Million Miler, you are bestowed with lifetime elite status that lasts as long as the program exists (not necessarily your personal lifetime).

Hot Tip: Elite status like this can be valuable for avoiding fees, getting priority service when things go wrong, earning complimentary upgrades, and much more.

Now, should you even work towards this achievement?

Let’s explore the path to Million Miler status and see if the effort is worth it.

How Do Million Miler Programs Work?

Million Miler programs are not based on how many frequent flyer miles you’ve earned — they’re based on how many airlines miles you have actually flown on paid tickets.

Each airline Million Miler program calculates miles differently.

For example, miles that count toward Million Miler status may be calculated based on only those flights operated by the airline and not partner airlines. Or you may receive the same amount of miles whether you paid for first class or economy.

In some cases, you’ll find that miles are easier to earn in one program over another — but the benefits you receive for flying a million miles may be less than stellar.

Let’s take a look at the domestic carriers with Million Miler programs and review the requirements. We’ll also tell you what to expect when you reach a million miles and show you how to find out if you’re approaching the milestone.

Image Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines Million Miler

The Program

Here’s what you can expect when you fly a million miles or more with American Airlines.

  • 1 Million Flown Miles: AAdvantage Gold status for the life of the program plus 35,000 bonus miles
  • 2 Million Flown Miles: AAdvantage Platinum status for the life of the program plus 4 one-way systemwide upgrades
  • Each Subsequent Million: Additional 4 systemwide upgrades

And here’s a summary of the benefits you would receive with Gold and Platinum elite status:

Gold and Platinum Elite Benefits

  • Dedicated customer service line
  • Automatic flight upgrades
  • Automatic companion upgrades
  • Mileage bonuses
  • Priority security, check-in, boarding, and preferred seating
  • Complimentary standby
  • Free checked bag
  • Discounted Admirals Club membership
  • Waived award processing fee
  • Oneworld priority check-in and standby

Additional Benefits for Platinum

  • Additional free checked bag
  • Oneworld business and frequent flyer lounge access
  • Oneworld priority boarding and security

For more information on elite status, see our guide on American Airline’s AAdvantage loyalty program.

Hot Tip: If you are interested in having elite status with American Airlines, we can walk you through the process of requesting and completing a status challenge. Find out more about participating in an AAdvantage status challenge in our expert guide that tells you everything you need to know.

How to Earn Miles Toward American Airlines Million Miler

Million Miler qualification miles are calculated based only on the actual distance flown. This is different than how Loyalty Points are calculated for elite status, as these are based on spending.

Base miles earned on partner airline flights do count toward Million Miler.

Image Credit:

How to Track Your Miles

You can track your progress toward American Airlines Million Miler by logging into your AAdvantage frequent flyer online account. Once on the home page, click on “My Account” then “Your Activity.”

You will then see your Million Miler balance.

Image Credit: Delta

Delta Air Lines Million Miler

The Program

Here’s what you can expect when you fly a million miles or more with Delta Air Lines.

  • 1 Million Flown Miles: Silver Medallion status for the lifetime of the program plus select luxury gift
  • 2 Million Flown Miles and 3 Million Miles: Gold Medallion status for the lifetime of the program plus select luxury gift
  • 4 Million Flown Miles and Each Subsequent Million: Platinum Medallion status for the lifetime of the program plus select luxury gift

Here’s a summary of Silver, Gold, and Platinum Medallion status benefits.

Silver, Gold, and Platinum Benefits:

  • Rollover MQMs
  • Bonus miles
  • Complimentary upgrades
  • Preferred seating and priority waitlist
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Discounted CLEAR membership
  • Priority phone line
  • SkyTeam Elite status
  • Savings on Delta Vacations

Gold and Platinum receive these additional benefits:

  • Waived same-day standby and same-day confirmed fees
  • SkyPriority boarding
  • Priority security
  • Expedited baggage service
  • High-priority phone line
  • Elite Plus SkyTeam status
  • 5-Star Hertz status

Platinum receives these additional benefits:

  • Waived award redeposit/reissue fees
  • 1 Choice Benefit: Select from a $200 gift card, 20,000 bonus miles, gift Silver status, or 4 regional upgrades
  • Higher priority phone line
  • Skyteam lounge access
  • President’s Circle Hertz status

Visit the Delta Air Lines site for more information on their Medallion program.

Bottom Line: After flying 1 million miles with Delta, you only receive entry-level Silver Medallion. With that said, it’s much easier to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles toward Delta Million Miler than other Million Miler programs.

How You Earn Miles Toward Delta Million Miler

No matter how you earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) with Delta (even from credit card spending), all of those MQM miles will count toward Million Miler Qualification.

While this is a strong positive, reaching a million miles with Delta only grants you low-level Silver status.

Track your Million Miler miles by logging into your Delta SkyMiles account. Image Credit: Delta

How to Track Your Miles on Delta

It’s simple to track your progress toward Delta Million Miler status by logging into your SkyMiles account online and clicking on “SkyMiles Summary.”

Image Credit: Delta

MQDs earned on partner airlines count toward Delta Million Miler. Image Credit: Delta

Shortcuts to Delta Million Miler Status

There are additional ways to earn MQMs that count toward Million Miler status than just flying on Delta Air Line flights.

  • Earn MQMs on Credit Card Welcome Bonuses: Completing the initial spending requirements on a Delta-branded credit card (such as the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card) can yield thousands of bonus miles, which frequently include MQMs. These MQMs, when offered on any Delta-branded credit card, count towards Million Miler status. Effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available.
  • Meet Spending Thresholds for Additional MQMs: Both the Delta Platinum cards and Delta Reserve cards award MQMs when meeting threshold spending levels. Effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available.
  • Flying Premium Flights on Partner Airlines: You can earn a generous amount of MQMs towards Million Miler when flying with partner airlines on premium fares. The above chart is an excerpt from the Delta mileage accrual chart that shows MQMs earned when flying partner China Eastern.

Hot Tip: If you’re interested in Medallion Elite status with Delta, know that it is possible to earn status from spending on Delta-branded credit cards. You can also status match your current airline status to Delta

Image Credit: Anatoliy Lukich via Shutterstock

United Airlines Million Miler

The Program

Here’s an overview of the status you can expect to be granted when you fly a million miles or more with United Airlines.

  • 1 Million Flown Miles – Premier Gold
  • 2 Million Flown Miles – Premier Platinum
  • 3 Million Flown Miles – Premier 1K
  • 4 Million Flown Miles – United Global Services

Here are the highlights of the benefits you’ll receive.

Premier Gold, Platinum, 1K, and Global Services Benefits

  • Grant spouse or significant other equal Premier status
  • Preferred seating
  • Complimentary domestic upgrades
  • Instant upgrades on Y/B class fares
  • Mileage bonuses
  • Priority check-in, security, boarding, baggage
  • Priority standby
  • Priority phone line
  • Waived fees on same day changes
  • Lounge access when traveling internationally
  • Star Alliance Gold benefits

Platinum Premier, 1K, and Global Services Additional Benefits

  • Complimentary regional upgrades
  • Waived fees for award tickets, redeposit, and close-in fees
  • Better award availability
  • Discounted United Club Membership

Premier 1K and Global Services Additional Benefits

  • 1K dedicated phone line
  • Global Upgrades

Hot Tip: United grants additional unpublished benefits for their top United Global Services level!

No other airline Million Miler program offers the ability to earn top-level lifetime status or gift that same status to a spouse or significant other.

Visit the United MileagePlus website for more information on elite status with United.

Bottom Line: United’s Lifetime Million Miler program with the ability to grant a companion equal status is an exceptional program. You also receive Premier Gold status when reaching your first million lifetime miles — not entry-level Premier Silver. 

How to Earn Lifetime Miles With United

Miles toward Million Miler Lifetime status are earned based on flight distance flown. Only flights operated by United and United Express count toward lifetime miles.

Your Million Miler progress is tracked within your United frequent flyer account. Image Credit: United

How to Track Your Miles

You can track your lifetime flight miles on by logging in to your United MileagePlus account and selecting “View Account.”

Image Credit:

Alaska Airlines Million Miler

The Program

Fly a million miles with Alaska Airlines and receive mid-level status for life.

  • 1 Million Flown Miles – MVP Gold status

Benefits Overview for MVP Gold Status

  • Complimentary first and premium upgrades (+ companion)
  • 4 guest upgrades annually
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • 2 free checked bags (+ companions)
  • Priority security, seating, phone line
  • Complimentary same-day standby/flight changes
  • Discounted Alaska Lounge membership
  • Fee waivers
  • Bonus miles

Find out more about Alaska Airlines elite status by visiting their Mileage Plan website.

Bottom Line: Alaska Airlines grants mid-level “MVP Gold status for life” once you have flown a million miles, unlike other airlines who have changed the duration of granted status to “lifetime of the frequent flyer program.”

How You Earn Miles

Miles are calculated based on the distance flown on Alaska Airlines flights.

Total miles are easily found on your Mileage Plan home page. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

How to Track Your Miles

As soon as you log in to your Alaska Mileage Plan account, you’ll see your mileage balance and progress toward Million Miler.

Everything Else You Need to Know

Only paid flights accrue miles that count toward Million Miler.

Flights paid for with rewards currencies accrue miles toward Million Miler under the same rules as if you paid in cash. Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards Points, Citi ThankYou Points, and U.S. Bank FlexPoints are examples of these types of rewards currency.

Lifetime Elite status received when you hit each million-mile threshold does not give you any miles toward the next level of elite status.

For example, if you fly 1 million miles on Delta, you will be granted lifetime Silver Medallion status. It normally requires 25,000 flown miles to achieve Silver Medallion status — but when granted, you do not receive 25,000 base miles to help you reach the next status level.

Note: You receive status only — this means you’ll start from zero each year and will need to fly 50,000 miles to qualify for the next level, Gold Medallion (in this example).

Also remember that “lifetime status” does not translate to your lifetime, but generally refers to the lifetime of the frequent flyer program.

There is no requirement to fly in any given year once you have Million Miler status; you will continue to have your granted status renewed for the lifetime of the program regardless of flight activity.

Final Thoughts

Hitting Million Miler status can be anticipated with expectations of grandeur, and then fall far short of that.

This is because when you hit a million miles…nothing much happens. Sure, you might get to select a special gift, receive bonus miles, or even get a congratulatory card.

You will also have your new granted elite status continuously renewed each year…but on the actual day you cross the million-mile mark, it’s likely that no one will notice.

Want your million-mile moment to be acknowledged? You can tweet your excitement about the upcoming experience and hope the airline notices it. Or you can call the airline and they may put a note in the record locator of your flight.

If you’re close to hitting a million flown miles, you should definitely go for it — just don’t make it the reason you fly and then expect fanfare.

Don’t plan to be flying a million miles, but want to learn more about having airline elite status? You might be interested in our guides to status matches and challenges.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Several airlines offer programs that grant you lifetime elite status if you fly a million or more miles with them on paid flights. Each program is structured differently as to which miles count and the level of complimentary status granted.

Once you reach a million flown miles, you receive complimentary elite status that you will keep regardless of how much you fly in the future.

The miles in your frequent flyer account are different from actual flown miles and do not count toward Million Miler status.

Miles that count toward Million Miler status are normally miles flown on flights you purchase, not bonus redeemable miles that you collect and use to secure award tickets.

If you’re flying a lot of miles anyway, it is worth it for the lifetime elite status. Complimentary elite status can save you a lot of money on checked bags, premium seating, and other fees.

Elite status can also give you priority assistance if something goes wrong with your trip and make your journey more comfortable.

However, if you have to pay for all of your flights, or just want to fly a million miles for bragging rights and to have low-level elite status, it is not worth it.

They can. Some Delta-branded credit cards offer Medallion Qualifying Miles in their welcome bonuses and when reaching specific spending thresholds.

Other than that, spending on your credit card earns redeemable miles, and not Million Miler qualifying miles.

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.


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Agnes Nemeth

March 17, 2019

Hi! Great article. I have one quick question. Can you ever transfer lifetime miles from one airline to the other. For example, I have about 500,000 lifetime miles on AA but I switched over to United 3 years ago and now i have about 100,000 lifetime miles on United. Can i ever combine these to get to the Million Miler status on one of the airlines? Thank you.

Christine Krzyszton

March 18, 2019

Hi Agnes. Thank you for the kind words and for the question. Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer lifetime miles from one airline to another. They’re actually not real miles, just a tally of how many miles you’ve flown with that airline. But it would be pretty sweet if you could.


April 29, 2019

What about miles earned (not flown) through credit card spending? I have about 800,000 miles, none through actual flying though.

Christine Krzyszton

April 29, 2019

Hi Jen and thanks for your question. Only miles actually flown on an airline count towards Million Miler status. The miles you have earned on your credit card are redeemable miles or bonus miles, not flown miles. Delta is an exception and does offer a limited number of Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM) for reaching specific spending levels on their branded credit card. These MQMs are counted towards the million mile total.

Fran Kehr

May 30, 2019

Question. Once I was told that being a million Miler put me first on the standby list for flight . Now they’re telling me it’s only Elite status, the million mile doesn’t count for standby order. Which is correct?

Hello Fran. If you are referring to the standby list for an upgrade, you can find the upgrade priority order published on the airline’s website. You’ll find the order of upgrade priority does not include million miler. However, since million miler does come with elite status, that elite status would elevate your priority on the upgrade list. So bottom line, while million miler does not count when it comes to elevating you on the standby list, the status that comes with it does.


July 18, 2019

I’m at 825k miles on Delta and live in MSP. They are by far the most expensive carrier out of the airport. I no longer travel for business and probably accumulate no more that 25,000 MQMs per year (I usually travel once to Hawaii and once to Europe with a few domestic trips sprinkled in). At that rate it will be 7 more years before I make it. In your opinion is it worth it when i could probably save estimated $1,000-$2,000 in airfares per year. I simply ask because I have two trips I need to make (Oman and Delhi) and Qatar is much cheaper for a better product. Thanks!

Christine Krzyszton

July 18, 2019

Hi Fernando. After reaching your first one million mile threshold, you would have lifetime Silver Medallion Elite status which doesn’t get you a lot of extra benefits. I do not think it is an objective worth striving for or spending extra money to achieve. If you find yourself traveling more on Delta and getting closer to the million, you can always decide to go for it at that time.


September 03, 2019

Hi Christine! I have 1.7 million actual miles on United. Virtually all of it is business travel. I currently have lifetime Premier Gold status for me and my wife. Trying to stretch to 2 million miles. What are the rules around flying United, United Express or partner airlines? For example: Do I earn actual miles if I buy a United ticket on a Lufthansa flight?

Christine Krzyszton

September 04, 2019

Hi Chris and congrats on achieving Million Miler with United. Only flights operated by United and United Express count towards United Million Miler.


November 20, 2019

I live in Central America so made the switch to Copa when they split with United. My husband stayed with United and is getting close to his goal of a million, but I don’t see that Copa has a million miler program. Are you familiar with their new program?

Christine Krzyszton

November 20, 2019

Hi Sandra. I was unable to find any reference to a million miler program with Copa. You can access their frequent flyer program information here: Thank you for reading.

Bruce B

January 14, 2020

Hi Christine, I flew so much when I was working, but am now retired. Mostly I can fly with Frequent Flier miles on my Delta flights. But I am close to lifetime Gold status. If I’m reading it right, I’m currently about 18,000 miles short of the 2 million it takes for lifetime Gold.

When I look at my current statement, it shows the rollovers from last year. And under the MQM column , I have 18,000 miles. Should those now apply to my lifetime total? Or are they already in there? (I did not think so). Or are they a different kind of MQM?

And finally, should I fly a couple of paid tickets, even though my original plan was to use FF miles after retirement, I have a lot.

Christine Krzyszton

January 14, 2020

Hi Bruce, fellow Delta lover. Congrats on approaching the 2 million mile mark. First, any MQM (Medallion Qualifying Miles) you earn will be counted in your Million Miler progress as soon as they are earned so the rollover miles will already be in your Million Miler total. They were added when you earned them last year. Being only 18K miles short, I think it would be worth it to achieve 2 million miler status and “lifetime” Gold Medallion. One tip is that certain business class flights can count up to 200% in MQMs so that might help you do it in one trip. You can find your current Million Miler total in your profile after logging in to your Delta account. You probably already know that but just throwing it in. Good luck with your quest and thank you for reading.


May 02, 2020

Hi Christine,
If I reach Gold or Platinum status on American, would I then start each year thereafter with that account balance? So I would only need 50,000 miles to reach Platinum Pro, or 75,000 miles each year to reach Executive Platinum? I’m having trouble finding an answer to that question!

Hi DT. Million Miler status automatically grants you the associated status each calendar year. There are no elite qualifying miles, segments, or dollars granted. So regardless of your Million Miler elite status, you would still need to achieve the total amount of EQM/EQS, and EQD required for the higher levels, not just the difference.


January 16, 2022

Hi Christine,
For the United Million Miler program, at the 2 million or 3 million mile level, does one automatically receive Plus Points for upgrades each year like the old RPU/GPU’s?
Or is it necessary to requalify each year for Premier Platinum or 1K?
Appreciate the insight.

Christine Krzyszton

January 17, 2022

Hi Dan.The United website confirms that status received via Million Miler will receive Plus Points.”Yes. Members eligible to receive upgrades with their Million Miler status will receive PlusPoints in place of Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades.”


June 17, 2022

Do business class on fares on United accrue miles towards a million miles total at a higher rate?

Jarrod West

June 17, 2022

Unfountlatey, business class tickets don’t accrue miles any faster towards million mile status.


May 29, 2023

What about codeshare and million mile status?
If I book on United and there’s a Lufthansa flight with a United codeshare number, will those miles count toward million mile status?

Chris Hassan

May 29, 2023

No, only United and United Express flights count.


July 16, 2023

Will I get AA million miler points If I used AA frequent flyer points?
Thank you.

Christine Krzyszton

July 17, 2023

Hi Tito. Unfortunately not. Million Miler miles are normally earned by flying AA on paid flights.


July 26, 2023

Question – does air New Zealand have a million miler program?

Jarrod West

July 27, 2023

Hi Abraham,

I do not believe they do.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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