The outbreak of the coronavirus is causing widespread disruption to travel plans around the world.
Flights to many destinations have been suspended or reduced.
In a bid to keep passengers booking, airlines have been waiving the flight change fees that would normally apply to standard tickets.
Meanwhile, frequent flyers (whether corporate or leisure) are likely to have their ability to collect loyalty points and achieve or maintain status affected in the coming months.
This is leading some airlines to change the rules that govern status expiry and point earning. More will likely follow.
Below is what carriers told us about what they are offering.
Readers should note that airlines are changing their policies day by day, and many airlines not currently offering status extensions may do so in the near future. We will continue to update this article with the latest news and information from additional airlines.
Aer Lingus has offered 350 tier points to Concierge tier members in Aer Club, 200 points to Platinum, 100 points to Silver and 25 points to Green.
The Russian flag carrier has extended elite level status for members of its Aeroflot Bonus frequent flyer programme through the end of February 2022.
Platinum level will be extended through the end of 2021 for current Platinum customers as well as members who had their status downgraded to Gold on March 1, 2020 following the results of 2019. Customers who have Gold and Silver level status expiring on February 28, 2021 will get their status extended for the same period.
American Airlines hasn’t decided what it is going to do, though that will probably change now that Delta has made the first move.
It said: “We’re closely monitoring the impact that Covid-19 may have on our members’ ability to earn elite status during the current qualifying year.
“Our commitment to their well-being and ability to earn and redeem miles through AAdvantage remains our top priority, and we’ll continue to assess the situation. We do not have any updates to share to our elite program at this time.”
British Airways told us: “We value the loyalty of our Executive Club Members and have introduced a policy to help them if their travel plans are affected.”
“We are writing to impacted Executive Club members to let them know that we’ll be lowering all Tier Point thresholds [by 30%] for all members due for renewal in April, May and June. This means members will now retain their status for another year, regardless of any flying activity.
- Also, for Gold Upgrade Vouchers and Companion Vouchers (or Travel Together Tickets), earned through a British Airways credit card, we’re applying a six-month expiration extension to vouchers in our members’ account. They don’t need to do anything, this will happen automatically. Members can view any existing vouchers in their account. This applies to:
- Six month extension to unredeemed Gold Upgrade Vouchers and Companion Vouchers (or Travel Together Tickets), earned through a British Airways credit card.
- Six month extension to redeemed Gold Upgrade Vouchers and Companion Vouchers (or Travel Together Tickets), earned through a British Airways credit card, that were applied for travel from 1 March 2020 or thereafter.
- Six month extension to Companion Vouchers (or Travel Together Tickets), earned through a British Airways credit card due to trigger in next three months, up to 30 Jun 2020.
The Hong Kong flag carrier is offering “relief points” for Marco Polo Club members in February, March and April 2020, based on members’ current tier. They are:
- Diamond – 140 points
- Gold – 65 points
- Silver – 30 points
If your membership is expiring in February 2020, your additional club points will be credited to your account by the end of February. If your membership is not expiring in February, you will receive your additional club points for February in March. Club points relief for March and April will be credited by the end of each month.
Cathay also said Lounge Passes, Bookable Upgrades and Gold Companion Card nominations that expire in February, March or April 2020, will be reissued for another six months.
UPDATE April 6, 2020: We asked Cathay for any update on the above. A spokesperson said:
Our existing offer of Club Points relief and extension of mid-tier benefits remains unchanged. We have also granted discretionary extension to longstanding loyal members as a courtesy on a case-by-case basis.
You can watch a video from Cathay Pacific below
Delta is the first of the major U.S airlines to announce its policy.
To read more, see the below article
The Israeli flag carrier will allow its Matmid frequent flyers to maintain their premium status in the Matmid frequent flyer club.
Members whose status expires by the end of August will be allowed to retain their status for another six months. Further updates are set to follow.
Emirates has said the following in emails sent to members
Retaining tier status
Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum members with a tier review date prior to 1 March 2021 will retain their current status for a further 12 months with just 80% of the usual travel requirements.
Extending tier status
Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum members, with a tier status review between March 2020 and September 2020 who are unable to retain their existing tier, will have their existing status extended until 31 December 2020.
Extending Miles validity
Those members who have Skywards Miles expiring soon needn’t worry – we’ve has extended their validity until 31 December 2020. Skywards Miles can be redeemed up to 11 months in advance for an extensive range of rewards, including flight tickets on Emirates and partner airlines, flight upgrades, hotel stays, and money-can’t-buy experiences..
Finnair Plus will have their tier status automatically extended for six months beyond its original expiry. Upgrade benefits will have an updated validity date too.
A spokesperson told us: “The Lufthansa Group does not offer status or HON Circle miles on flights that cannot be carried out. Of course we are monitoring the development of the crisis in the context of our frequent flyers closely and will decide on a later stage upon additional measures (if any or which, i.e. goodwill/downgrade measures).”
Qantas Frequent Flyers with a membership year anniversary date between March 2020 and February 2021 will automatically retain their current status for the subsequent 12 months, according to Executive Traveller.
Membership years ending between March and June 2020 will see status their extended by March 27, 2020, while membership years between July 2020 and February 2021 will have status automatically extended by April 9, 2020.
The airline was offering “personalised offers” at qmiles.com for Privilege Club members, giving them the opportunity to extend or reclaim their tier status for memberships due to end before January 31, 2021. The offers had to have been claimed before March 24.
It said: “Members will be able to retain their current tier benefits such as upgrades, Shop & Pay with Qmiles, extra baggage, lounge access, and more, for up to six months, with personalised offers.”
We have contacted the airline to get an update.
The airline told us it has “renewed the membership of selected KrisFlyer Elite Silver, Elite Gold, PPS and Solitaire PPS Club members for another year. These members have membership validity periods ending in February and March 2020.”
All Mileage Plus members who currently hold Premier Silver, Gold, Platinum or 1K status will see their status extended until January 31, 2022. In addition, United has reduced the thresholds for reaching each status level by 50 per cent for 2021. You can read more below:
The airline says the following.
Gold & Silver tier extension – Gold and silver members need to earn 1000 tier points (Gold) and 400 tier points (Silver) to maintain their status for another year. These members will have an additional six months added to their membership year to ensure they have extra time to achieve the required tier points. A new membership card will not be sent but a digital membership card can be viewed online and downloaded via the Virgin Atlantic app. Members can login to their Flying Club account online to see how many tier points they have and the new end date of their membership year and accounts will be updated by Friday 20 March.
Voucher extension – Our Flying Club members earn various rewards throughout the year and for those that are valid as of 13 March 2020, we will add an additional six months for customers to redeem them which will show in members accounts by Friday 20th March 2020.
These rewards include:
- Gold member vouchers
- Gold member companion reward for Gold status renewal
- Clubhouse passes for Gold member 1500 tier point reward
- One cabin upgrade for Gold member 2000 tier point rewards
- Credit card vouchers
- Companion reward
- Clubhouse passes
- Premium upgrades