Until this month, US Airways was the only major U.S. airline that didn’t offer its most frequent customers an opportunity to earn lifetime elite status.
Lifetime status is typically awarded after earning 1 million miles, which explains why it has come to be known as million-miler status.
I said “until this month” because, ta-da!, this month, US Airways finally joined its legacy-carrier cohorts in adding lifetime status to the Dividend Miles elite program.
Dividend Miles members are likely to have mixed feelings about the new addition.
On the positive side, it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, which is what they were getting previously.
But on the down side, US Airways’ version of million-miler status is both harder to come by and less valuable than other airlines’.
On the earning side, only actual flight miles on US Airways count toward million-miler status—not miles earned for flights on partner airlines. United also only considers its own flights when awarding million-miler status; but when that threshold is achieved, Mileage Plus members receive Premier Executive status, United’s mid-tier status, rather than the entry-level Silver status on offer from US Airways. And United offers progressively more rewarding versions of lifetime status after reaching 2 and 3 million miles as well.
Like United, Delta offers three versions of lifetime elite, with qualification thresholds of 1, 2, and 4 million miles. But unlike United and US Airways, Delta also counts miles earned by flying on airlines that co-participate with Delta in the SkyTeam alliance (Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines) and Alaska Airlines. That makes for significantly easier qualification.
And making qualification easier still, American counts any and all AAdvantage miles—bonuses, credit card miles, shopping miles, whatever—toward its version of lifetime elite, which features two tiers for 1- and 2-million milers.
So US Airways’ new million-miler status is a step in the right direction. But it’s a small step, and a grudging one. Dividend Miles members will wonder, rightly, why their program chose to value their loyalty less than competing programs would have.
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.