Travel Tuesday: Is Your Airline or Hotel Status Being Extended?
I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess that, if you’re reading this post around the time it was initially published, you haven’t been traveling much lately. For frequent travelers, not only is this a change of pace that may make cabin fever even more impactful but may also lead some to worry that they may not be able to retain their elite status with airlines, hotels, and others this year even after this crisis has passed. Although this may not be the most pressing issue facing Americans and those around the globe, we’ve already seen some companies making efforts to set the minds of their loyal customers at ease by adjusting their normal polices. With that, let’s take a quick look at how some of my preferred travel brands and others are handling status extensions at this time.
Note: this article isn’t meant to be to a comprehensive list of travel brands extending statuses for their customers. Therefore, for that latest info on your favorite program, be sure to check the company’s website.
What Companies Are Extending Travel Status Extensions
This weekend, Delta made a move many expected (or at least hoped for), providing an update on their SkyMiles Medallion program. In an email from CEO Ed Bastian, he announced that the airline would automatically be extending current Medallion statuses through 2021, ensuring that customers won’t lose their status for lack of travel this year. What’s more, Delta says that it will rollover Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) from 2020 to 2021, thus giving Medallions a leg-up next year as well. Of course, you’ll still need to meet the Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) thresholds for status but it’s a nice gesture regardless.
Not long after Delta’s announcement, United also revealed that 2020 Premier statuses would also be extended until January 31st, 2022. For now, that leaves American Airlines as the only one of the big three domestic carriers not to extend — although that could certainly change. Meanwhile, each of these airlines and others are also making adjustments to certain offers, mileage and voucher expirations, etc.
It’s important to note that many airlines are still dealing with heavy call volumes as travelers inquire about rebookings. So, if you do have questions about your status or other non-immediate needs, it’s likely best to keep an eye on your inbox, your carrier’s social media, or their website to see if you can find an answer.
Interestingly, Hilton announced not one but two statuses extensions for its Honors elites. First, although 2019 statuses were set to expire on March 31st of this year, the hotel chain has decided to push that out to March 31st, 2021. Similarly 2020 statuses will now stretch into 2022. Hilton has also put a hold on expiring points as well as free night reward certificates.
Elsewhere, some hotel chains are currently limiting status extensions to those customers in or around China, with no word on whether Americans or others will see the same courtesies. In other cases, brands are adjusting their elite qualifications instead of outright extending. Naturally, this will almost certainly continue to change — and there’s still plenty of time left in the year.
While hotels and airlines are famous for their own loyalty programs, there are third-party travel brands that also offer perks to frequent customers. As it turns out, some of these sites are also extending statuses. In fact, Expedia was one of the first to let me know about the extension and — to my surprise — will be letting me hold onto my Gold status all the way until February 28, 2022 (instead of 2021). So, once again, it’s definitely worth taking a look at all of your favorite brands and see what accommodations they’re currently making for customers.
It goes without saying that, of all of the problems impacting the world right now, frequent flier status ranks pretty darn low. Still, it’s hard for regular travelers to not have at least some concern about what will become of the status they’ve worked to attain. Luckily, it seems that several of my preferred brands are making proactive adjustments and giving their customers one less thing to worry about. With any luck, we’ll see others following suit — and hopefully we’ll all start traveling again soon.