Travel has shut down worldwide to a degree never seen in my lifetime due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic and most airlines have shut down or severely reduced their schedule, some around 90% of their flights. Even the most frequent travelers are staying home and will fly or spend enough with airlines to meet the targets to renew their elite status in the airline loyalty programs. Fortunately, similar to Hotel Loyalty Program extensions I reported last week, many airlines are extending status for their most loyal travelers due to the Great Coronavirus Lockdown! Find out the current offer for the major hotel chains below!
American Airlines is extending the current status for all elite members by one year through January 31, 2022. They are also making it easier for any member to earn status by lower the requirements across all levels for 2020:
They are also extending Admirals Club memberships by 6 months and are waiving award reinstatement fees for travel through September 2020. An especially interesting twist is that AAdvantage miles earned with the Citibank AAdvantage Credit Cards will be counted towards Million Miler status through 2020. That feature was discontinued many years ago and the reintroduction might make it easier for some to earn that much coveted lifetime status! You can find all the details here!
Delta Airlines was the first to announce status extensions for their elite members, also through January 2022. They are also rolling over all miles earned in 2020 to 2021, giving you a head-start to earn status next year – an interesting and unique move. They are also extending club memberships and a variety of vouchers and credit card benefits. You can find all the details here! Unfortunately, they are not reducing elite level requirements in 2020, so if you were thinking of moving your business to Delta after the Great Shutdown, you should probably wait for a status challenge!
United Airlines is also offering a wide range of extensions for members of their United MileagePlus loyalty program! Similar to their US competitors, United is extending all existing status through January 2022. Also, like American Airlines, they are cutting requirements for new members to achieve status in half:
They are also extending all memberships, like United Club or EconomyPlus, and PlusPoints for upgrades by 6 months. United credit card holders will be please to find out that they are earning additional points.
Some international airlines have taking similar steps: Singapore Airlines has extended status in their KrisFlyer loyalty program by one year. Qatar Airways, Qantas and TAP Portugal are all doing the same. One of the few airlines that hasn’t done anything at this time is Lufthansa, the German 5-star airline. It’s disappointing, but not surprising – Lufthansa has never been very good in the customer loyalty game. If you have status with another airline, check their Coronovirus update for similar moves!
In the last few years, airlines have been cutting elite perks faster than I could write about and devaluing miles faster than you could book a flight. Now, with the airline industry in crisis and even the most frequent travelers staying home, the airlines are re-discovering loyalty. These are generally positive steps by the airlines. I expect it to be a buyer-market after the Great Lockdown is over and I’m sure these are not the last steps airlines will take to get travelers back into the air!