Are American Airlines Lifetime Passes Currently Available?

In the wake of financial turbulence spurred by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, American Airlines devised a groundbreaking solution: the AAirpass. Priced at $250,000 initially, this pass offered unlimited lifetime first-class travel with the option to include a companion for an additional $150,000. However, the grand vision of profitability ultimately unraveled, leading to its discontinuation in 2004.

The AAirpass Legacy

Despite the allure of boundless first-class journeys, the AAirpass scheme failed to yield the anticipated revenue. American Airlines faced substantial financial drains from taxes, fees, and lost ticket sales, allegedly amounting to $1 million annually per pass. By the time of its demise in 2004, only 28 individuals had secured this extravagant privilege.

A Soaring Journey: Steve Rostein’s Odyssey

Among the privileged AAirpass holders was Steve Rostein, a prolific traveler who reportedly embarked on over 10,000 flights with his pass. His expeditions included over 1,000 trips to New York, 500 to London, and 120 to Tokyo. However, Rostein’s aerial odyssey came to an abrupt halt in 2008 when American Airlines revoked his pass due to alleged fraudulent activities, sparking a legal battle.

Legal Turbulence: The Rostein Case

In 2009, Rostein contested the allegations in court, seeking $7 million in damages – the perceived value of the pass plus lifetime first-class travel expenses. After a protracted legal battle, the judge ruled in favor of American Airlines in 2011. Despite Rostein’s setback, 25 fortunate individuals retained their AAirpass privileges.

The Evolution: From AAirpass to AirPass

American Airlines introduced a streamlined version of its AAirpass, rebranded as AirPass, offering instant elite status based on varying initial investments. The value of the initial payment was credited towards flights, providing flexibility in booking based on route distance and cabin preferences. Despite its perks, American Airlines ceased new membership applications for AirPass in 2022, leaving its future uncertain.


The AAirpass saga stands as a testament to the airline industry’s experimentation with loyalty programs and the challenges of balancing profitability with customer perks. While the AAirpass era may have faded into history, its legacy endures as a cautionary tale in the annals of aviation.

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