When it comes to airlines lifetime program rewards just mean for the life of the offer. You may earn lifetime status but that doesn’t mean you’ll get to keep the status, or that the benefits won’t change.
Lifetime british midland elites didn’t keep lifetime status when the airline was acquired by British Airways. Lifetime status with Aegean and Airtran started requiring annual re-qualification.
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United Airlines even told a court that they weren’t obligated to honor lifetime promises and customers should know better than to believe them!
Judge Hamilton: To understand the difference between lifetime and fingers crossed? That lifetime doesn’t mean lifetime?
United: That lifetime means lifetime unless…
Judge Wood: Unless we change our mind.
Judge Hamilton: Unless we change our mind.
United: Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s the case.
It’s one thing to walk away from promised upgrades. But United’s lifetime benefits were hardly the most generous that had been offered.
Thirty years ago when OnePass was formed out of the Eastern Airlines Frequent Traveler Bonus Program and Continental’s TravelBank, they offered a huge reward for members who flew one million miles between the two airlines.
It was called the MillionAir and it offered a trip for two every week for a year anywhere the two airlines flew and it included 52 nights of hotel and 52 days of luxury rental car.
Ironically when United walked away from honoring annual confirmed upgrades for million milers, it was a result of the airline’s merger with Continental and the combination of Mileage Plus and the OnePass program.