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Which airlines have changed their frequent flyer policies?

14 May 2020 by BusinessTraveller
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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 mood lighting

Aer Lingus

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.

Aeroflot award winner

Aeroflot

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.

Air Canada B777

Air Canada

Changes for Air Canada Altitude customers include:

Automatic extension of 2020 Altitude status
All Altitude status for 2020 will automatically be extended through to the end of 2021. Should a member reach a higher status before the end of this year, they will enjoy it upon qualification, and maintain it through 2021 as well.

Share Altitude status with friends and family
Since Altitude status is secure through 2021, if a member has already achieved status for next year, or does so by the end of 2020, they can gift it to a friend or family member.

Continue to earn Altitude status and Aeroplan Miles – from home
While at home, a member can still earn Aeroplan Miles, progress towards Altitude status and make a difference with their miles. From now until April 30, for every five Aeroplan Miles a member donates to a charity engaged in fighting the COVID-19 crisis, they will receive one Altitude Qualifying Mile – up to a maximum of 25,000 AQM – all of which count towards 2021 status for the member, and a loved one.

These improvements come in addition to other changes for all Aeroplan members already announced:

Cancel any Flight Reward free of charge
Until April 30, all members can cancel any Flight Reward free of charge and receive all of their Aeroplan Miles back in their account, plus a full refund of any associated taxes, fees and surcharges on the unused value of their travel. This is available for flight itineraries departing any date in the future.

Temporary pause to expiration of Aeroplan Miles
We have paused expiry until May 14, 2020. This means that between now and May 14, any Aeroplan Miles which would have expired will not. Effective May 15, our normal expiration policy will once again apply, meaning that miles will expire if an eligible transaction has not been completed prior to this date.

Air Canada today announced several updates for Altitude members to ensure their status remains in effect until they are able to resume flying. The changes include the extension of current status until the end of 2021, the ability to share any status achieved in 2020 with a loved one, and new opportunities to qualify for Altitude status and earn Aeroplan Miles from home.

“Loyalty is a two-way street – certainly in good times, but especially so in hard times. Altitude members have shown outstanding commitment to Air Canada, and to provide some certainty during these uncertain times, we are extending members’ current Altitude status to the end of 2021. We’re also making it easier to share status with a loved one, and earn both status and Aeroplan miles from home.” said Mark Nasr, Vice President, Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada. “The entire Air Canada team is looking forward to welcoming all customers back in the skies when the time is right.”

More on Aeroplan.

Alaska Airlines narrowbody first class

Alaska Airlines

The airline is extending status until the end of the year. In addition, companion certificates set to expire in 2020 will be extended. The extension of status means that all status benefits will apply, with the exception of the 50,000 bonus miles associated with earned 75K status. More details will be released later by Alaska Airlines about this.

If you were hoping to achieve elite status this year but will now struggle, Alaska Airlines says that it will make a later announcement about tier qualification requirements and additional ways of earning elite-qualifying miles this year.

Lastly, members who enrolled in a status match challenge between December 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 will have their trial status extended through the end of 2021.

American Airlines' Admirals Club in Terminal 8, JFK Airport

American Airlines

American Airlines has announced it is extending the elite status of its AAdvantage members until Jan. 31, 2022. It is also:

  • Reducing elite status qualifications for 2020.
  • Extending Admirals Club® memberships purchased from American for 6 months.*
  • Introducing up to $400 special credits for future travel on American Airlines Vacations packages for elite members.
  • Every dollar spent on an eligible AAdvantage co-branded credit card through the end of 2020 will count for one mile toward Million Miler℠ status.
  • Award reinstatement fees waived for travel through September 2020.

In addition, the airline has lowered AAdvantage elite qualification requirements for the rest of 2020. The airline says that it means AAdvantage members will achieve status more easily during the current elite qualifying year through lower Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD), Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) and Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS) requirements.

You can see more at

American Airlines extends elite status for 2020

The new British Airways Club Suite

British Airways

British Airways has lowered all Tier Point thresholds [by 30%] for all members due for renewal in April, May and June.

Gold Upgrade Vouchers and Companion Vouchers (or Travel Together Tickets), earned through a British Airways credit card have also had a a six-month expiration extension added to the vouchers. This applies to:

    • Unredeemed Gold Upgrade Vouchers and Companion Vouchers (or Travel Together Tickets), earned through a British Airways credit card.
    • 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.
    • 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 Marco Polo Club by Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific

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

Our commitment to your wellbeing

Delta launches free inflight messaging

Delta

Delta is the first of the major U.S airlines to announce its policy.

To read more, see the below article

Delta extends tier status for members of Sky Miles frequent flyer programme

El Al B737

El Al

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

Emirates

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.

You can read more here

Emirates extends Skywards miles validity

Etihad Airways signs codeshare with Royal Jordanian

Etihad

The airline said: “To help members maintain Tier Status, they will be gifted monthly bonus Tier Miles from March 31, with more details to be shared imminently. Plus, members will earn double Tier Miles on all trips between March 1 – June 30, 2020.”
Finnair A321-Sharklet-View-2

Finnair

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.

Lufthansa Frequent flyer cards

Lufthansa Group

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).”

Norwegian B737 Max with Benjamin Franklin tailfin

Norwegian

Norwegian has temporarily extended the qualification period for Rewards and paused their expiration. When looking at qualifying flights, instead of counting the number of flights you’ve taken over the last 12 months, it will count the number of flights taken from 1 March 2019. It has also delayed the expiration of Rewards for at least two months, and this will probably be extended as the pandemic drags on.

Qantas-Business-PJs

Qantas

Qantas

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.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways

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.

Singapore Airlines Coronavirus

Singapore Airlines

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.”

UnitedORD

United

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:

United extends Mileage Plus member status until 2022

Virgin Atlantic launches new Mastercard reward credit cards

Virgin Atlantic

The airline says the following.

Gold and 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. 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.

Voucher extension –  All Flying Club members have had an additional six months added to these which 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

All Flying Club miles that were due to expire between April and September have now been extended by an extra six months from the expiry date.

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