Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock
Delta earlier this month became the first U.S. carrier to adjust its loyalty program policy to account for coronavirus-related disruptions.
United, Delta, American, Marriott, and Hilton are among those that have updated their loyalty programs to assure members they won't lose points due to COVID 19 travel postponements.
It feels a bit inappropriate to discuss such things while the world is gripped by the devastating coronavirus pandemic—but the fact is that plenty of formerly frequent travelers are eager to know: What about our points and status?
Having finally had a chance to catch their breath after an incredibly challenging month during which they canceled thousands of flights and temporarily closed a multitude of properties because of coronavirus, some of the biggest airline and hotel companies have started updating their loyalty program policies.
The general idea is to not have point and status accomplishments be negatively impacted by travel postponements due to coronavirus. We’re likely to see further updates and more companies join in during the coming days and weeks as the situation continues to evolve and as travel companies evaluate how best to proceed.
These are the points and miles extensions that have been announced thus far.
Delta Air Lines became the first U.S. carrier earlier this month to officially extend its elite members’ status—the carrier’s SkyMiles Medallion members will now be able to hang onto their current status through 2021. Additionally, all Medallion qualifying miles will be rolled over to 2021 to allow you to qualify for 2022 Medallion status.
For SkyMiles members with banked upgrade certificates or $200 travel vouchers that were originally set to expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020, those can now be booked and flown by December 31, 2020. Upgrade certificates and $200 travel vouchers that expire after June 30, 2020, will get a six-month extension. SkyMiles Select members will also get a six-month extension for their priority boarding benefit.
If you had a Delta Sky Club membership (either an individual or an executive one) that was set to expire on or after March 1, 2020, you’ll get six months added to your access. Delta SkyMiles American Express Card members are also getting extensions on their banked credits and benefits.
Delta said that the updates will occur automatically over the coming weeks and that no action is needed from customers.
Article continues below advertisement
SkyMiles Members enrolled in a challenge or promotion to earn Medallion Status, such as the Status Match Challenge, Reclaim My Status, or a promotion offered through their employer, can restart that promotion when they are ready to travel again. Those members will receive next steps from Delta in the coming weeks.
Not long after Delta’s announcement, United Airlines’ MileagePlus members found out that if they have Premier status, it will be extended to January 31, 2022.
United is also reducing its premier qualifying points and flight requirements for all tiers by 50 percent. A full breakdown on how this all shakes out is available on the United site.
There will be additional benefits for United Explorer card and United Club card holders (the former will get double premier qualifying points, and the latter will get quadruple). United’s 1K and Platinum status members will have the expiration of their PlusPoints (a flexible upgrade benefit) extended by six months and 1K members can use the Skip Waitlist feature (which allows you to confirm an upgrade request upon booking) for the remainder of 2020 (availability will also be expanded to more long-haul flights). United Club memberships and subscriptions for Economy Plus seating, United Wi-Fi, and checked bags are all being extended by six months.
With regards to travel that has been disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, United is waiving all award redeposit fees (the $125 fee that’s charged when you don’t show up for an award travel flight and then request those miles be redeposited) for travel that was scheduled to take place through the end of May 2020. It is also waiving all redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations made more than 30 days prior to departure for the remainder of 2020.
As for status in the coming years, “we will be making it easier to earn status in 2021 for the 2022 program year. We recognize that getting back to travel will occur at a different pace for different members,” United said in a statement. The airline said it will be sharing those changes at a later date.
American Airlines this week finally followed suit. AAdvantage members will have their elite status extended until January 31, 2022 (which should be automatically reflected in members’ accounts within the next few weeks). Those with Admirals Club memberships (as well as one-day lounge passes set to expire between March 1 and May 31, 2021) that they purchased from the airline will have those automatically extended for six months beyond the original expiration date.
Article continues below advertisement
American has also reduced the qualification requirements for status for the remainder of 2020—you can find the new requirements on their website. The airline is waiving change fees for award flights booked by May 31, 2020 for travel through September 30, 2020. Award travel ticketed on or after June 1, 2020 will also have change fees waived if the changes are made at least 60 days in advance.
Members of the vast Marriott Bonvoy program will have the status they earned in 2019 extended to February 2022, with points expiration paused until February 2021. Free night awards have been extended, too. You’ll have an extra year to use this year’s suite night awards, which will now expire December 31, 2021, and you’ll have until January 31, 2021, to use a free night award.
“Travel is a way of life for our Marriott Bonvoy members. It is the way we connect, get inspired and evolve our business every day. While it is the right thing to do, it’s been hard not to be able to travel,” Marriott said in a statement. “We know that when you get back in the air and on the road, your points and status will be important to you.”
Hilton Honors members, take note. If your 2019 Diamond, Gold, or Silver status was scheduled to expire on March 31, 2020, it will automatically be extended through March 31, 2021. All other 2020 elite status members will have their status extended through March 31, 2022. Points expiration is also being paused until December 31, 2020, and weekend night rewards that were unexpired as of March 11, 2020, and through August 30, 2020, will be extended until August 31, 2021.
Following similar moves by Delta and United, Alaska Airlines said that anyone who has status with its Mileage Plan program will have that status extended through December 31, 2021. Companion certificates (discounted fares available to Alaska card holders) set to expire in 2020 will now have until December 31, 2020, to be purchased for new travel through November 26, 2021. Alaska said that all regular status benefits will apply to the extension, although the airline plans on announcing some additional bonus mile options for those with 75K status. Tier qualifications remain unchanged, but the carrier also said it plans on having more information in the coming weeks about “ways you can earn additional elite-qualifying miles this year.”
This story was originally published on April 9, 2020, and was updated on April 14, 2020, to reflect current information.
Sign up for the Daily Wander newsletter for expert travel inspiration and tips
Please enter a valid email address.