And that’s a million: Celebrating with a GPU giveaway!

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!

That dot over Nova Scotia is about where I’ll be when I cross the Million Mile threshold tonight.

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.

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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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Congratulations on Million Mile Status! I have several upcoming flights on which I could use the upgrade: ORD to PDX on Dec 16 and PDX to IAH on Dec 26. Upgrade space is available on both flights!

  2. Congrats!!

    Plenty of upcoming flights (was-hnl; was-cun) with R space available that I’d be grateful to use the GPU.

  3. I have three three-segment flights in the first half of January. All currently have R space available 🙂

  4. Շնորհավորում եմ (yeah, I googled it)
    Congrats on the miles. I’m planning a European adventure as a holiday gift to the wife. A GPU would be the icing on that cake!

  5. A GPU from EWR to MXP in March on my United flight would make my mom and I very happy travellers 🙂

  6. My city pair carrier changed. I have no MilegePlus elite status on upcoming SAN-IAH-ORF flight. Can’t even move to Economy Premium day of without an up charge. Take pity on me. I fly 12/6 & return 12/8. Congrats on MM, I have 300k on Delta but only 30k on United.

  7. I have a flight from NRT – ORD coming up. Would love to sit near the front! Thanks and safe travels.

  8. Congratulations!!! It’ll probably take me at least 10 years to ever become a MMer. I have a HNL-IAH flight on United on next week so getting that GPU would be quite handy! Thank you for your generosity!

  9. Please help me upgrade my EWR-NRT flight, Seth! BTW, enjoyed your HuffPost live segment. Did you do something new with your hair?!


  10. I have an EWR to ZRH segment to upgrade in January… no R but 90% seats are open on 763. Pick me please! 🙂

  11. I have 6 GPU’s left I just feel like letting em expire at the end of Jan. I already used a bunch this year, mostly on LH.

    1. Hi Nick, if you don’t want to let your GPUs expire, my wife an I are flying tomorrow in W fare class. If you have two to spare, we would make sure they don’t go to waste… Happy holidays to you!

  12. Congratulations Seth! I’m at 0.8 myself and look forward to hitting MM in a few years. After a 5 year run as a 1K, I let myself drop to first Platinum and now Gold (you know, when UA started rolling out ‘changes we’d like’). I have a GPU eligible PEK-SFO-LAS in January and would love to relive the experience of the upper deck on the 747 over the Pacific. Of course, C is wide open (only 2 seats taken) but in true $misek style, no R. Hopefully something opens up in January.

  13. Seth, appreciate the million mile ramble :). Congratulations! From my part I could make 1 million on UA next 18 months. i just don’t trust them not to pull the rug when I get there. So I am inclined to not focus on this, though have for a while. All this mincing around with revenue requirements and having to wear the right color socks on a tuesday to qualify for a chance of a global clearing is just to irritating. Perhaps back to kettle for me and when a client pays international business then off to Cathay or Singapore or BA. Overall, dissapointing how UA is failing, but life is what it is and airlines just get us to where we want to be.

  14. Seth,
    Congrats on the milestone. Great post.
    I do not need the GPUs (1k this year on Dec 8th).
    Makes me feel good that at least I did AA LT before the changes there.
    I doubt I will ever get there on UA, although DL is possible.

  15. Congratulations on your Million Mile Status! That’s awesome! I would love a GPU upgrade for my flight from FRA>SFO. Just checked and there’s space on this segment! I’ve never had an upgrade, so this would be pretty awesome!

  16. Wife has a SFO-SYD flight in April; there’s currently some R space. This would probably get me out of the doghouse I’m currently in.

  17. Count me in please. I have 2 segment flight that an upgrade would help with so that I can fly with the rest of my family – all currently in a higher class than me.

  18. Congratulations! I have an upcoming LHR-IAD flight with space available where I’d love the upgrade.

  19. awesome job! almost ready to quit with a certain carrier so many times but.. keep coming back. glad you hung in there! maybe see you on my trip to HNL-NRT in Jan!! eh hem!

  20. Well done sir. Impressive. I have an upcoming trip with Mrs. M. to Milan. It is booked in K class I believe. Not sure if that is an Upgradable fare but would be incredible if it is.

    Congratulations and Enjoy the Christmas markets!

  21. Congratulations from someone who is travel weary doing 50,000 miles a year!
    Also, I am travelling with Joseph M. to Milan. It would be so nice to sit in the front while he is still sitting in the back! 😉

  22. We have a trip on Dec. 31st from DEN-IAH. Would love to give my wife an upgrade as a (late) birthday present!

  23. I have quite a few tickets with R inventory. and I’d definitely use it. That said, all my R inventory trips are domestic, so an RPU would be just as nice.

    Thanks Seth!

  24. congrats, Seth. You inspire me to fly a million miles — some day! Champagne on me next time i see ya!

  25. Congratulations on MM status! I have a flight from LAX to JFK on January 19th with R space (3 spots as of December 4). The flight is a redeye and is operated on the new PS configuration. I would love to have the GPU to use this to go into the office refreshed on Monday morning!! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  26. Congrats (I think) on MM status. I know it’s not transoceanic, but the wife and I have DCA-CUN trip that could use an upgrade. Has R space.

  27. Congratulations on MM status, I hope to be there someday. Good luck to the winner (I do not have any trips booked until after first and lose my statue due to have split almost evenly this year on AA, DL and UA.)

  28. I’ve got IAD-DXB-IAD coming up next March. It sure would be nice to sit up in the pointy end of the plane!

  29. Seth you’re an inspiration to us all in how to ‘play’ this travel ‘game’. So congrats on achieving MMer status, for you certainly earned it!

  30. Congrats on a million!

    Would love to use GPUs on flight to Paris (my first trip to Europe!) to celebrate my golden bday! Space available 🙂

  31. Hi Seth – I’ve got a US Air flight from LAX to Charlotte on 12/9 that should have R space. Thanks for the help.

  32. Nice work breakin thru that MM mark. And w/o giving up more paid miles than needed for the feat in the process! Would gladly use a GPU for an SFO-ICN 12/21 trip w R space available to celebrate a 1K first! Was otherwise looking like another year @ Platinum..

  33. Congratulations on that millionth mile!

    I have an IAD –> ZRH segment on 1/22/14 with R space available for which that GPU would come in handy. Thx for the shot at it.

  34. Would love to upgrade ORD-LHR (UA958) this Sunday, but sadly no R space available… 🙁

  35. Congrat’s on the accomplishment. That’s a lot of BIS miles.
    I would love to use the GPU on our upcoming flight LAX-HNL with space available. Thank you for your generosity.

  36. Wow! Good job on this milestone. I hope the flight back goes well. I would use a GPU on my flight from LAX to HNL to start the vacation out right! R available.

  37. Congrats Seth. Have plans for EWR -BOM/DEL. No R space ofcourse. Would love to hear your future plans for status and miles.

  38. Congrats on the Lifetime Million Miles on UA – I’m just a mere 162, 562 miles behind you!

  39. Congratulations on Million Mile Status! I have several upcoming flights on which I could use the upgrade: IAD to NRT on JAN 06 and NRT to IAD on JAN 11. Upgrade space is available on both flights!

    1. Believe it or not, Ken, I’m still working on confirming winners. I’ve been in touch with a number of possible recipients so far and none have been able to confirm the award yet. If you haven’t heard from me yet odds are rather lower, but it might still happen.

      One of the challenges with running a contest like this is that there are a lot of moving parts to line up, beyond just picking some winners. No sense is naming a winner only to find that their ticket isn’t eligible or such.

      1. Does it have to be R space or just space available? My flight from ORD to LHR has BusinessFirst and GlobalFirst space available, but don’t seem to see and R or RN space for some reason.

  40. Seth, that was an awesome post and a nice gesture, the GPU giveaway. Have you found a winner? My wife and I are flying in W class tomorrow and there is space available. Happy holidays to you!

  41. In response on to my earlier posts, R space opened up for my trip to London on Saturday…

  42. At this point the GPUs are spoken for. One is still waitlisted so there is a chance it will come back into the market. Should that happen I’ll make sure to find it a new home. 🙂

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