I don't think I quite had realized until recently, though I well should have, that this weekend's mileage run would conclude with my crossing my Million Mile threshold. Today as I fly over the Nevada desert on the way back from London, someplace over Las Vegas, I will have completed a million- yes a million - miles on American airlines and its partners.
It's been over a decade of many, many, journeys in the making. This million has touched on every continent Oneworld flies to, and over 20 countries and counting.
As a practical matter, crossing your millionth mile in the AAdvantage program comes with some modest and lasting benefits along with the bragging rights. For starters, they toss an extra 35,000 miles into your account. It's not a million, but with miles ever harder to earn on low fares, I'll take it. It also comes with Gold Elite status for life. Sure, Gold benefits are minor, but it's the thought that counts I suppose. "Elite for life" sounds nice, doesn't it?
Practicalities aside, milestones are times to look back and see what you've learned and also wonder where to go from here. I am not being cliché when I say that these million miles have been life changing. I appreciate both the expansive experience of the world, and its smallness and vulnerability. Our entire planet, our entire home can be circumnavigated on a 777-300 in a long weekend, and that includes time to get out of the airport and have some Dim Sum.
I feel like it calls for some kind of celebration, I'm not entirely sure what's appropriate. Once again, alone in a crowd and on the way from somewhere to somewhere else entirely. Maybe this is exactly appropriate after all.
As I wing over Vegas, few 'thank yous' are probably in order. As much as I've dedicated words and pages to complaining about the changing AAdvantage program, I'll be the first to also acknowledge that it's this program that has shown me the world, and let me share it with my family. Speaking of family, I'm eternally grateful for Mrs. CruisingAltitude for indulging this bizarre compulsion with only the slightest amount of side-eye when I explain my plan to start a mileage run in Sri Lanka, as if that's a perfectly normal human thing to do.
I also am eternally in debt to the crazy friends I've met along the way who are also plagued by this curious affliction. These are the friends who when I ask who's up for flying to Sri Lanka just to fly home again, are always up for it. Flying around the world for the hell of it is fun, but doing it with a bunch of other crazy flyers is amazing. They're the ones I've flown with to Africa to pet lions, toasted life with at the world's tallest bar, and stood with watching the sun come up over the Persian Gulf from hotel balconies, all just for the sake of the journey.
As for where to go from here? Anywhere, I suppose. The next level is two million. Maybe next decade..... but who really knows.
As always, fly safe, travel well, and live for the journey.