Assuming my flight was not delayed too much out of Newark tonight (yeah, a big assumption, but I have to make a guess at some point) this post should appear as I pass over Nova Scotia en route to Frankfurt. And that’s significant because that’s also the point at which I’ll be about 617 in to the trip. Add that on to the 999,383 miles already in my account and that’s a million. Woohoo!
In some ways it is a bit ironic that the milestone will occur at that point in the trip. Most notable, at least to me, is that I seem to always encounter a bit of turbulence at that point in the trip. It is bumpy as we transit that last bit of Canada before heading across the Atlantic and it is also a rather bumpy era in the world of airline loyalty. Lots of things are changing within all the programs as the shift from distance-and longevity-based programs to revenue and transactional-based programs accelerates. And, as I’ve been writing somewhat often lately, all these changes have me pondering my loyalty future as well as that of the industry in general.
The biggest question to me is whether the “quest” for lifetime status was worth it. And I think that the answer is a resounding yes. That’s not to say that the lifetime benefits are the same as they were when I started collecting points or that the benefits will remain significant to me forever, but the few things that I actually want out of the program remain available to me for now. I will continue to have lounge access on my international trips (most of mine are) and free bags on the off chance I need that. Plus some bonus miles and some lower fees. It isn’t the best status out there but as a MMer I’m also not the best customer out there. I understand keeping some benefits exclusive to those who are continuing to spend the money.
Plus, it wasn’t really a quest for MM status. I’m not even sure it was really a quest. There were plenty of adventures – good and bad – and plenty of ridiculous trips mixed in to the past decade or so. But none of it was really focused on getting MMer. It was all about taking the individual trips and building that balance of experiences. And I think I came out okay on that front.
Another consideration is what having the status means to my future travel patterns. Interestingly enough, I’m not so sure it is really going to matter for me. I’ll still fly United when they’re cheap or when they’re going somewhere I need or want to be. And I’ll still fly other airlines, too. I’ve never really only flown one carrier so I’ve never felt that one program “owned” me. And they still won’t. The other changes in the MileagePlus program will probably see me booking away from United a bit more often or being a bit more flexible with my plans, but just being a MMer won’t likely have any appreciable impact on my planning.
Yes, I’m excited that I’ve reached the MMer milestone. I’m even more impressed that United’s Twitter team noticed and provided a relevant and (reasonably) timely reply when I shared the news earlier this afternoon.
@WanderngAramean Million Miler Miller – has a nice ring to it. We sincerely appreciate your business and thank you for your loyalty. ^RS
— United Airlines (@united) December 3, 2013
But I also am something of a realist about the situation. The game is changing and those changes present a significant risk to the way I play. That might not end so well for me but I’ve never treated this as a long-term investment so II ‘m not too worried.
And, with that, I’ll cut off the rambling and get on to the giveaway. For the first time in a long time I’ve got some GPUs which will go wanting this year. Too many paid premium mistake fares, I suppose. But my excess is your gain. Win a GPU by leaving a comment below before noon EST on 6 December 2013. If you have an eligible itinerary with R space available note that in the comment as priority will be given to winners who can actually use the prize. A second GPU will go out to someone who follows me on Twitter and tweets something like “I want to use @WanderngAramean’s GPU to upgrade EWR-NRT.” Again, if you have a flight which has the space available priority will be given. Same deadline on this one as well: noon EST on 6 December 2013.
I’ll pick the winners and be in touch at the end of the week.
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