Travel News

The One (Small) Group Unaffected by AA Devaluation

American Airlines tickets
Written by Charlie

With the recent announcement by AA about their upcoming devaluations, many of us will miss out on award miles by flying. But, the group of AirPass holders will not miss anything!

As I wrote (and many, many others did as well) about the other day, the AA devaluation is coming to earning award miles and earning elite status this August 1 (for award miles) and then in 2017 (for elite qualification). However, there is one small group that will remain unaffected by all of these changes and one that no one else can enter – the Lifetime AirPass holders.

The One (Small) Group Unaffected by AA Devaluation


This devaluation will affect many – but not this small group of travelers.

While going through the terms and FAQs about the upcoming AA program changes, I noticed this little part about Lifetime AAirpass holders:

How will award miles and EQDs be calculated for Lifetime AirPass members?

Lifetime AirPass members (Limited and Unlimited) will earn award miles as they do today, based on the distance of the flight. EQDs will be awarded based on 20% of the flight distance.

What is the “Lifetime AirPass”?

The Lifetime AirPass program was instituted back in 1981 and allowed customers to buy passes, some lifetime, that would allow them to fly unlimited on American Airlines. It was also possible to add a companion to the pass that would allow them to take any companion with them whenever they flew.

AA had sold about 100 of these lifetime passes at a cost of $250,000 with the companion pass costing an extra $150,000. The pass was inclusive of all taxes and fees and allowed the holder to fly first class on all AA flights. If there was a seat, it was available to them.

Not only did it allow for “free” travel but it also included the ability to earn award miles. These miles could be used for any partner flights they wanted. Want to fly Etihad first class? Just fly a few “free” roundtrips on AA in first/business class and accrue your miles for that – no cost to the pass holder after purchasing the pass back in the 80s.

“Fraudulent” Activity

This AirPass gained attention several years ago when 2 AirPass holders had their passes revoked for what AA called “fraudulent” activity (like selling the companion pass to people). At the time, it was said that this unlimited AirPass program cost American Airlines millions of dollars in the actual cost and taxes and fees they had to pay. It was designed to help raise money for AA but ended up costing them a lot more than they had earned by selling the passes!

They had raised the price over the years – even over $1 million. The real deals were for those that bought in the early 80s when the AirPass was available for only the $250,000.

No Award Mile Devaluation for Lifetime AirPass Holders

So, for this very small group of customers, AA has said that they will continue to earn miles as they did before – based on the distance of their flights. Good news for those that initially shelled out the 1/4 million 30 years ago! As much money as that is, I am sure there are several thousand customers who wished they could have gotten in on this AirPass back when it was offered! Imagine how many miles we would have generated with such a pass? 🙂

Yes, they will get on the elite side with the qualified spending part, but that just means they will have to fly more (for free) to get their earnings done. 🙂

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.