Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
There’s no doubt that the past months have been rough for the travel industry. The pandemic has led to major event cancellations and travel restrictions, and many travel providers have issued waivers to give travelers more flexibility for both new and existing reservations.
This uncertainty has led many travelers to wonder if airlines and hotel programs will extend elite status, upgrade certificates and other benefits for loyal members. Given the evolving nature of the outbreak, this is a question that is frequently changing, but a large number of carriers have announced intentions to implement updates in the future.
Here’s a quick roundup of what we know from all major U.S. airlines and some popular international airlines — though we’ll continue to update this post as we receive more information.
On April 6, 2020, Air Canada announced that it would extend elite status validity for all of its elite members through 2021 regardless of miles flown. Then, on March 31, 2021, the airline extended elite status through the end of 2022. This makes Air Canada the first airline in North America to extend elite status into 2022, and we hope others follow suit.
Air Canada will allow elites to choose Select Benefits in early 2022. This includes bonus perks like eUpgrade credits, Status Passes and bonus miles.
Air Canada is also extending unused Priority Reward vouchers earned in 2020 for another year. These vouchers are now valid for use through October 2022 and extensions will appear later this year.
Further, if a member earns any elite status tier in 2021, the airline will roll over all Status Qualifying Dollars (SQDs), Status Qualifying Miles (SQMs) and Status Qualifying Segments (SQSs) to 2022. In other words: you must earn at least 25,000 SQMs or 25 SQSs, and 3,000 SQDs (or 1,500 SQDs for non-Canadian residents) to qualify for the rollover.
The airline is waiving change fees on many paid tickets and permanently increasing Aeroplan points validity to 18 months from the last activity. That said, Aeroplan points expiration is paused through Jan. 31, 2022.
On April 7, 2020, Alaska Airlines announced its extending elite status validity for all 2020 elite members through Dec. 31, 2021. This status extension is automatic and there’s no need to enroll or contact Alaska Airlines for the extension.
Additionally, the airline also rolled over all elite qualifying miles earned between January and April of 2020 to 2021.
The only benefit excluded from this extension is the 50,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles that Alaska awards to MVP Gold 75K members upon qualification.
Mileage Plan members who enrolled in a status match challenge between Dec. 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, will have their elite status automatically extended through Dec. 31, 2021. This extension is valid regardless of how much the member has flown during their status challenge period.
Finally, Alaska Airlines members will earn 50% bonus elite-qualifying miles on all flights flown between Jan. 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021. This should make it easier for members to upgrade their elite status tier or requalify in 2021.
As you’d expect, the carrier is waiving change and cancellation fees on many tickets — check out Alaska’s COVID-19 travel page for complete details on these waivers.
American Airlines announced a status extension of its own on April 13, 2020.
All American Airlines elite members who currently hold elite status will have their status validity extended through Jan. 31, 2022. This status extension is automatic and includes members who earned status through a status challenge or were gifted World of Hyatt status.
In a separate email, the airline announced that this extension also applies to its invite-only ConciergeKey members.
Additionally, the requirements for earning elite status (or moving up a tier) in 2021 have been reduced across the board. While not as generous as 2020’s reduction, the cuts are significant and apply to Elite Qualifying Miles, Segments, and Dollars for all elite status tiers. Here’s a breakdown of these levels.
|Metric||Gold||Platinum||Platinum Pro||Executive Platinum|
|Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM)||20,000||40,000||60,000||80,000|
|Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS)||20||45||70||95|
|Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD)||$2,000||$4,500||$7,000||$12,000|
Further, existing Systemwide Upgrades set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021 will now expire on July 31, 2021. The airline also lowered requirements for earning additional Executive Platinum awards, which will now kick in at 120,000, 160,000 and 200,000 EQMs.
The airline has made several smaller changes to the AAdvantage program too, so make sure to check out our full article on the airline’s response to coronavirus for more info. Also, check out the airline’s coronavirus information page for information on its coronavirus travel waiver.
In June 2020, British Airways extended elite status for all members by 12 months. Extensions started with members whose Tier Point collection year began in July 2020 and extensions will continue through June 2021. For example, if your status was set to expire in March 2020, it will be valid through March 2021.
Then, in March 2021, the airline further extended elite status for members whose Tier Point collection date falls between July 1 and December 31, 2021. These members will have their status extended for another year, regardless of how many Tier Points they earn this year. This means that no British Airways elite will lose status in 2021.
So if you have Executive Club status set to expire in August 2021, it will now expire in August 2022. This gives you 12 more months to collect Tier Points to requalify for or upgrade your elite status level.
British Airways also reduced the number of Tier Points required to earn status by July 2022 by 25%.
Here’s a look at qualifying requirements:
- Bronze — 225 Tier Points or 18 eligible flights
- Silver — 450 Tier Points or 37 eligible flights
- Gold — 1,125 Tier Points
- Gold Guest List — 3,750 Tier Points (2,250 Tier Points to retain)
- Concorde Room Card — 3,750 Tier Points
Additionally, the validity of select companion vouchers has been extended by another six months. For more information, see this page on the British Airways website.
Cathay Pacific automatically extended elite status for all Marco Polo Club Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond elite members whose membership period expired between May 2020 and April 2021. The extension lasts 12 months from the date of expiry. Likewise, the airline is extending “mid-tier” benefits like lounge passes and upgrades by the same amount of time.
On April 5, 2020, Delta became the first U.S. airline to announce elite status extension for all members amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline says whatever Delta Medallion status travelers earned for 2020 — including those gifted — will be automatically extended for the 2021 Medallion year, which ends Jan. 31, 2022. Additionally, all Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) from 2020 were rolled over to 2021 to qualify for 2022 Medallion Status.
Delta also extended Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates and $200 Delta travel vouchers selected as Choice Benefits. The carrier also extended some of the perks attained through its co-branded credit cards.
(Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock)Delta 360 — an invite-only elite tier for high spenders — was originally excluded from this extension. Thankfully, Delta has since reversed this decision and extended Delta 360 status through January 2022.
SkyClub memberships active March 30, 2020, are now valid through June 30, 2021, and all credit card certificates are valid through the end of 2021. Be sure to check the carrier’s coronavirus updates page for complete details and eligibility.
According to Emirates’ website, Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum members with status expiring in 2021 will have their status extended to 2022. For example, if you have a Tier Review date of June 30, 2021, it will be extended to June 30, 2022.
Like other airlines on this list, Emirates has also issued a handful of travel waivers that let some travelers cancel airfare without penalty. See the airline’s website for more details.
On Mar. 31, 2020, Etihad Airways began distributing monthly bonus Tier Miles to all Etihad Guest members to help them maintain elite status.
These bonus Tier Miles will be automatically deposited into Etihad Guest accounts on the last day of every month. This promotion ran between March and December 2020. There’s no word on if we’ll see it make a comeback in 2021.
(Photo by Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock)Etihad notes that the number of points to be distributed will be “calculated as a monthly average of miles members earn flying with Etihad Airways and are required to maintain their existing tier.” No specific numbers have been released at this point, but we’ll update this article when more information is available.
Beyond elite status, the carrier made new bookings more flexible — check Etihad’s coronavirus travel updates page for more details.
On April 15, 2020, Flying Blue announced that it would extend elite status for all elite members by one year. Flying Blue elite members with a qualification period ending between March 2020 and February 2021 will have their elite status extended for another 12 months.
The loyalty program extended elite status again in late-2020. This means that elite status will now expire in 2022 for existing elite members.
Flying Blue is also pausing mileage expiration through the end of 2021 for all members. For more details on these updates, check out the program’s coronavirus news page.
Hawaiian Airlines is extending status for all current elite members through the end of February 2022. The airline is also lowering qualifying requirements for Pualani Gold and Pualani Platinum status by 50%, making it easier for travelers to earn or upgrade status once it’s safe to travel again. Here’s a look at the updated status requirements.
|Status tier||qualifying segments||qualifying miles|
Furthermore, the airline is extending credit card companion certificates set to expire before August 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020. This applies to both 50% off and $100 off companion certificates earned with the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®.
The information for The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Hawaiian Airlines is also offering a travel waiver for most new and existing bookings — see the airline’s coronavirus page for more information.
Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines
Fortune Wings — the loyalty program used by Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and other Chinese carriers — has automatically extended elite status validity for elite members. According to the Fortune Wings website, elite status members who are set to lose their current elite status tier will have their elite status extended for up to 14 months.
Fortune Wings said the following in a press release:
“During the policy implementation, FWC elite members (including Platinum, gold and silver card) that member tier would be degraded in current month, will be automatic maintained by their original levels and the validity periods will be extend by another elite member period; Namely, the member tier validation would be from the day of upgrading till the end of the next month of the next year, which would be up to 14 months. For example, the original member tier, which will be expired on March, 31st, 2020 and maintaining conditions are not met, will be automatically maintained and the valid period will be April 1 2020 to May 31st 2021.”
This program went into effect on Feb. 1, 2020 and an expiration date “will be announced later.” Elite status will be automatically extended and no enrollment is required.
Japan Airlines has extended elite status for all 2020 elite members through 2021. So if you qualified for elite status for the 2020 status year in 2019, you’d be able to use your elite status benefits through March 31, 2022.
Additionally, current elite status members will receive bonus FLY ON points to make elite status requalification easier. You’ll receive points based on your elite status tier on January 7, 2021. If you qualify for or upgrade your elite status tier by July 1, 2021, you will receive bonus points corresponding with your new status tier.
Here’s how many points each tier will receive:
|FLY ON status||Bonus FLY ON points|
|JMC Diamond||40,000 points|
|JGC PREMIER||28,000 points|
|JMB Sapphire||15,000 points|
|JMB Crystal||8,000 points|
Check Japan Airlines’ COVID-19 page for more info on ticket changes and mask requirements.
JetBlue extended Mosaic elite status for all current elite members through December 2021. This includes elite status earned by flying and spending on the JetBlue Plus card, so all elites get an extra year of elite status regardless of how it was earned.
In addition, JetBlue let all Mosaic members gift status to a friend or family member earlier in the year. This gifted status will be valid from June 15, 2020, to June 15, 2021, and includes all Mosaic benefits, including free checked bags, priority boarding and access to discounted Even More Space seats. However, this status won’t include the bonus 15,000 TrueBlue points normally awarded when one qualifies for Mosaic.
JetBlue has also lowered the requirements for earning Mosaic status in 2021. You can now earn Mosaic by meeting any of these metrics:
- 7,500 Mosaic qualifying points (vs. 15,000 points)
- 6,000 Mosaic qualifying points + 15 segments (vs 12,000 points and 30 segments)
- $50,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card during the calendar year
- $30,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card + 4,000 Mosaic qualifying points during the calendar year (new and exclusively for 2021)
The information for the JetBlue Plus Card, JetBlue Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Miles and More
The Lufthansa Group’s frequent flyer program is extending any status set to expire in February 2021 to February 2022. Additionally, it’s making it easier to earn status this year. In 2021, you’ll earn double status miles on all flights operated by Lufthansa Group airlines — Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings. You’ll also earn double the HON Circle miles when flying business and first class.
On July 12, Korean Air notified members via email that it will extend the expiration date of mileage expiring at the end of 2020 to Dec. 31, 2021. The airline has also extended elite status for Morning Calm elite members by one year.
LATAM has extended status validity for all LATAM Pass elite members through March 2022. This status extension is automatic and will be applied regardless of how much an elite member flew in 2020. LATAM released the following statement on its website:
“Many things have changed due to the current situation, affecting the opportunity to travel and accumulate qualifying points for access to Elite categories, but we want to give you peace of mind: the category of our Elite members is guaranteed until March 2022.”
This is one of the most generous airline status extensions that we’ve seen so far. In addition, LATAM is offering waived change and cancellation fees on a number of its flights. Check the airline’s coronavirus information page for more info.
Qantas was among the first carriers to announce program-wide updates, automatically extending status validity by 12 months for all current elite members who had not requalified in 2020.
Eligible members will receive a new elite status card by the end of the month in which their current status is set to expire. Qantas has stated that no enrollment is required to take advantage of this extension, as all extensions will be processed automatically.
Unfortunately, members who have already requalified for status are not eligible for this extension. Likewise, Qantas members can only use this extension to retain their current status tier — it’s not possible to move up a tier with the extension.
Members residing in Australia or New Zealand who cannot requalify for status in 2021 are eligible for another 12-month extension so long as they make one new booking by the end of 2021.
The airline is also rolling over Status Credits earned in 2020 for existing elite members. The number of status credits that can roll over depends on the member’s elite status level. Here’s how many each tier can roll over:
- Silver: 100 Status Credits
- Gold: 250 Status Credits
- Platinum: 500 Status Credits
- Platinum One: 1,800 Status Credits
Beyond elite status, Qantas is taking other steps related to the coronavirus, as it recently suspended most international routes due to the coronavirus outbreak and is offering various travel waivers. Be sure to check the carrier’s coronavirus update site for complete details.
Like Qantas, Qatar Airways automatically extends status validity by 12 months for all current elite members, with status set to expire before Jan. 31, 2021. While details are limited, the airline says that it would also reinstate status in some circumstances.
In addition to the status extensions, Gold and Platinum members now have 12 additional months to use their Qcredits, which can be used toward perks like upgrades, extra baggage, and lounge access. The Qcredits, including previously redeemed ones, are now also refundable.
On January 28, 2021, the airline again extended elite status for all members through December 31, 2021.
Singapore Airlines is also offering relief for those affected by the outbreak. The airline said that it’s automatically renewing all KrisFlyer Elite and PPS Club membership statuses for another 12 months at the end of their membership year.
The airline extended elite status again in 2021. According to the airline, all elite members with status expiring between March 2021 and February 2022 will retain status for another 12 months.
In addition to this extension, Singapore is also waiving rebooking fees on all tickets booked by February 28, 2021. Visit the carrier’s travel waiver page for up-to-date information.
Southwest announced extensions for both A-List elite status and its famous Companion Pass benefit on April 16, 2020. In the announcement, the airline stated that it would extend elite status validity for all current A-List and A-List preferred members through Dec. 31, 2021.
Further, all Companion Pass holders had their passes extended through June 30, 2021 last summer. The airline has again extended this to Dec. 31, 2021 for current Companion Pass holders, even if their pass was already extended to June. Unfortunately, those with promotional Companion Passes are not eligible for this extension.
Additionally, all Southwest Rapid Rewards members will get a head-start toward elite status and Companion Pass in 2021.
The airline will deposit 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 qualifying segments into all Rapid Rewards accounts — these bonus points will count toward elite status qualification. This effectively drops A-List and A-List Preferred qualification to 20,000 tier points and 55,000 tier points, respectively.
On the Companion Pass side, Southwest announced it would deposit 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 qualifying flight segments into all Rapid Rewards account. This drops the Companion Pass requirement to 100,000 qualifying points for 2021, which can be quickly earned with a Southwest cobranded credit card.
Do keep in mind that these miles aren’t redeemable, so you can’t use them to book flights. Regardless, it’s nice to see that the airline making it easier for its members to earn elite status and Companion Pass benefits in 2020.
Finally, the Dallas-based airline has also announced extensions to expiring travel funds, including an option that will allow Rapid Rewards members to convert expiring funds to Rapid Rewards points.
All funds issued between March 1, 2020, and Sept. 7, 2020, have an expiration date of Sept. 7, 2022; typically, Southwest Travel Funds expire one-year after being issued. Southwest’s website indicated that these conversions would happen at the same rate you can book travel using Rapid Rewards points. Still, given that this is variable, we’re awaiting more details on how the math will work — and the launch of an online tool that will facilitate the transfer.
As far as flight changes go, the airline has always allowed free changes and cancellations on both paid and award tickets. Make sure to check out Southwest’s coronavirus page for information on canceled routes, travel restrictions and more.
TAP Portugal has extended elite status for some elite status members by 12 months. According to TAP Portugal’s website, the airline has extended elite status for Gold and Silver members who earned status through segments flown or Status Miles earned.
Those who earned status via other methods — for example, through TAP Miles&Go — are excluded from this extension.
TAP Portugal is also extending mileage validity by a year and offering bonus miles to TAP Miles&Go members. Likewise, the airline offers free changes and cancellations for select members — read more about these benefits on TAP Portugal’s coronavirus page.
United became the second U.S. carrier, after Delta, to announce that it would extend elite status to all its current Premier members through the end of the 2021 program year, which ends on Jan. 31, 2022.
Further, the airline has reduced elite status qualifying requirements in 2021. Those hoping to qualify for status in 2021 will be subject to the following requirements:
|STATUS LEVEL||PQF||PQP||PQP ONLY|
Members who currently hold elite status will automatically receive 25% of the PQP needed to retain their current status tier in 2021. This is based on the PQP-only requirement — here’s a breakdown by status tier:
- Silver: 875
- Gold: 1,750
- Platinum: 2,500
- Premier 1K: 3,750
On top of this, MileagePlus will earn 25% bonus PQP on their first three flights of 2021 so long as they’re flown by March 31.
Additionally, United is extending all of its annual subscription options, such as United Club memberships, Wi-Fi and Economy Plus, by six months. PlusPoints points expiring at the end of January 2021 have also been extended through July 31, 2021.
Beyond elite status, United has implemented fee waivers for many of its flights, but be sure to visit the carrier’s travel notices page for complete details.
Virgin Atlantic announced a 6-month status extension for Gold and Silver members earlier in the year. In August 2020, the airline extended elite status and various vouchers by another six months. These vouchers include:
- Gold member companion reward for Gold status renewal
- Clubhouse passes for Gold member 1,500 Tier Point rewards
- One cabin upgrade for Gold member 2,000 Tier Point rewards
The airline will not send physical status cards, but the expiration date will be updated online and in the Virgin Atlantic app.
Additionally, Flying Club members will now earn Tier Points on award tickets booked with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. This makes it easier for travelers to earn or upgrade elite status on leisure travel while business travel is at a standstill.
WestJet extended elite status validity to Dec. 31, 2021 for all existing elites. The airline has also extended lounge and seat selection certificates issued alongside these tiers, giving elites more time to use their hard-earned benefits.
As you’d expect, the airline has a broad travel waiver that waives change and cancellation fees for select flights.
Almost every U.S. airline has now extended elite status validity, offering relief to loyal customers. Given the evolving nature of the coronavirus outbreak, however, it’s highly likely that these policies will continue to change over the weeks and months to come. Make sure to bookmark this article to check back as we update it with more information.
For more details on how the outbreak affects the broader travel industry and up-to-date information, be sure to check out our dedicated coronavirus news page.
Benji Stawski contributed to this post.
Featured photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
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