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Airlines

We Called and Asked: These US Airlines Are Extending Status

We Called and Asked: These US Airlines Are Extending Status
Joe Cortez

Now that the airlines are getting money as part of the CARES Act bailout, flyers are starting to turn their attention towards their status goals in 2020 and beyond. With schedules gutted by up to 70 percent or more, the ability to board aircraft and earn miles towards status is severely limited.

We reached out to the airlines to find out if they were making any concessions to those flyers who may not earn status in 2020 from a lack of flight options. In particular, we asked two questions:

  • Is your airline offering any sort of waiver or direction for travelers who may not earn elite status due to recommendations not to travel?
  • If so, what is your policy?

Of the major airlines we reached out to – Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and United Airlines – only one responded to our request for comment. Based on the current statements on their websites and what FlyerTalkers are learning, here’s how status issues are being affected this year and beyond.

Alaska Airlines

Update 4/7: Alaska Airlines Extends Status Through December 2021

Alaska did not respond to our request for comment. But some flyers were targeted in early March for a promotion to earn status faster through flights. FlyerTalker noah was one of them, and was offered a challenge to earn MVP elite status “50 percent faster” if they register and fly by Apr. 11, 2020.

The promotion appears to be available to all travelers: when I tried it, I was immediately accepted with the message: “You’re all set to go forth and travel.” There’s no indication if Alaska will extend the promotion beyond Apr. 11.

Otherwise, Alaska has not announced if they will offer waivers or shorten the qualification period for certain travelers. Their blog offers details on deep cleaning and social distancing on flights, but they have yet to announce if they will offer an extension of current elite status or lower re-qualification goals.

American Airlines

American was the only airline to respond to our request for comment. In an e-mail, an American spokesperson told FlyerTalk:

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.

FlyerTalkers are speculating if American will make any concessions for flyers, but are not optimistic that lower qualification standards are coming, or how they would appear in an elite qualifying dollar program.

“I’m not sure how this will work now in the era of elite qualifying dollars – I suppose that both elite qualifying dollars and elite qualifying miles could be doubled (otherwise simply doubling elite qualifying miles wouldn’t do much for many elites),” writes FlyerTalker wetrat0. “But I’m sure we’ll see some sort of promotion this year.”

Delta Air Lines

Update 4/6: Delta and United Extend Frequent Flyer Elite Status

Delta’s latest communication was published on Mar. 25, 2020. In a brief press release, chief customer experience officer Bill Lentsch explained the Atlanta-based carrier’s future moves in a two-minute video. The video did not address any changes to the SkyMiles frequent flyer program.

“When you choose to fly with us, you’re putting your trust in our hands,” Lentsch states in the video.
“We take that responsibility extremely seriously. I’ve had the privilege of working with the best women and men in the business. They spent years building a durable and customer-focused airline. As a result, we’ve never been better prepared to weather this storm than we are today.”

Currently, Delta has provided no guidance on what will happen with SkyMiles as part of their Coronavirus travel overview website section. FlyerTalkers on the forums are in agreement that a decision will be made in due time.

“Delta has publicly stated they’ll evaluate once the time is right,” writes FlyerTalker flyerCO. “However, they made clear (and I think most agree) the current time isn’t right.”

JetBlue

Much like Delta, JetBlue shared a video message from President and Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty on Mar. 18, 2020. Unfortunately, that message did not include information about TrueBlue Mosaic status.

“At JetBlue, we remain, as always, focused on protecting the safety and wellbeing of our crewmembers and customers, and managing carefully and prudently our business so that we can continue to serve you and deliver the great JetBlue experience for many years to come,” says Geraghty. “Air travel is an essential global service and we are committed to continuing that service to meet critical travel needs.”

FlyerTalkers are not speculating if Mosaic status will be extended, or what the qualification requirements will be. However, some elite members are noticing that when their flights are cancelled, the ticket price is getting “refunded” to their Travelbank accounts, instead of back on their credit cards.

United Airlines

Update 4/6: Delta and United Extend Frequent Flyer Elite Status

Since their initial statement about COVID-19, United Airlines has not made any statements about how flyers will be affected under their new elite qualifying process, requiring flyers to have enough Premier Qualifying Points and Premier Qualifying Flights. Despite the numerous travel advisories, United has not announced if they will extend status or reduce status qualifying thresholds. The link “Your accounts, miles and status” on their resource page only goes back to the MileagePlus login page.

Although the airline is offering flexible travel options through May 31, 2020, many are upset that the carrier is not offering refunds on flights. FlyerTalkers who are only offered future travel credits say the airline is “holding” as little as $300 from cancelled flights, while extreme frequent flyers say they have as much as $20,000 tied up with the airline at this moment.

Get the most up-to-date information on how airlines are responding to the Coronavirus on the FlyerTalk forums. Additionally, FlyerTalk has a dedicated thread for Coronavirus resources and information.

 

[Photo credit: Gordan Bevan via Flickr]

View Comments (31)

31 Comments

  1. GetSetJetSet

    March 30, 2020 at 9:44 am

    AA and UA: “We’ll do whatever Delta does.”

  2. fahrradman

    March 30, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Too early. I expect all of the majors will simply extend status another year. If not, well, my lifetime plat on AA will be like top tier in 2021. Seriously, no one knows how this will play out and when we will be flying again. Give it time.

  3. eddiehuang97

    March 30, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Alaska already extended the promotion to May 31st.

  4. jaybos

    March 30, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Agree with fahrradman….it’s too early to ask this question. No doubt the majors are already studying their options. I’m crossing my fingers for some reeeeallly lucrative airline/points-based credit card sign-on bonuses.

  5. cbourl

    March 30, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    At least they are not as bad as Swiss aka LH Group!!!!! And not as bad as SingaporeAir

  6. MikeFromTokyo

    March 30, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    They will not announce anything at this point, but I would not be surprised if status were simply extended, depending on how quickly things begin to normalise. We can hopefully expect to see very lucrative offers for mileage purchase, as well as bonus offers. Additionally, any devaluations that had been previously planned will not likely happen as soon.

    So, God willing, when we are healthy and have money to spend on travel, there should be some very good deals in the future. Premium cabins will be less full, which means more award seats, more upgrade inventory, and lower fares available.

  7. BayAreaTrvler

    March 30, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    The best approach is honestly to call a do-over on 2020, and just extend a year, Not a single person on Earth is in control of their travel plans for 2020, and that’s unlikely to change with enough time left to hit the numbers we are each used to.

  8. Frankdatank

    March 31, 2020 at 1:26 am

    Funny how the airlines want a handout from the government but don’t want to give their loyal customers anything.

  9. BMGRAHAM

    April 1, 2020 at 8:13 am

    There are way too many more important things going on now to worry about extending frequent flyer status now. Maybe this is a Message that we’ve all being taking our status too seriously. It takes a plague to remind us what’s important in life and what isn’t. I am amazed you called the airlines to ask. As you said, Delta has already told us that it will evaluate when the time is right and I am sure they will.

  10. neech7

    April 1, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Why? Apparently It’s not too early for others like Japan Airlines and Hilton to have already decided what they’ll do for their customers.

  11. phaka2

    April 1, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Or this is the chance to dump FF programs!

  12. Ilikeairlinefood

    April 1, 2020 at 8:41 am

    I’m sure we’re all standing by to see what American Airlines decides to do for its loyal flyers. Gone are the days when I did the end of the year red-eye mileage run on a flight from DCA to Miami with a connection in LAX because I needed to hit the end of year miles for status. American will most likely allow everyone to keep their current 2020 status through the end of 2021.

  13. pmiranda

    April 1, 2020 at 8:49 am

    HIlton already extended my status a year. Easy and fast to do if you want to, apparently.
    It’s not terribly important to me, but I will try to stay with them as much as possible (when that’s possible)

  14. brp

    April 1, 2020 at 9:03 am

    Tried the AS link. It said I was Accepted – Check your Email. So far no email. Maybe because of targeting it won’t work?

    Cheers.

  15. Carpboy823

    April 1, 2020 at 9:12 am

    I mean, American hasn’t even frozen the expiration of frequent flier miles yet, so I’m not expecting much from them in terms of status extensions either. My miles are still set to expire next month. Thanks, AA!

  16. Berniecfc

    April 1, 2020 at 9:50 am

    After cancelling a flight on advice from the Government etc, AA refused a refund, I wouldn’t hold my breath for any Status Extension. Perhaps Doug Parker will come up with some promotional fee to allow travels to still benefit from AA poor service.

  17. POatParker

    April 1, 2020 at 11:09 am

    What AA did after 9/11 (As did most other airlines), the status everyone had at 9/11, carried over into 2002. The precedent was set! Although, I am sure Parker will find a way to screw us further! The sooner he is dethroned, the better for everyone, including AA!!!

  18. c1ue

    April 1, 2020 at 11:11 am

    I agree, there are more important things to worry about than flight status at this time.
    To be fair, it doesn’t matter much to me as I’m lifetime UA gold anyway.

  19. Jackie_414

    April 1, 2020 at 11:18 am

    I am more worried about the pressure on hospitals in nine months when they are deluged with birthing mothers.

  20. arsintel

    April 1, 2020 at 11:39 am

    AA has refunded me for all of my international & domestic flights, except for 1. The last flight LAS-PHX-MSY, I was in PHX when my client called to say they canceled the meeting. AA was terrific they used my ticket to fly me home and they gave me the remaining $103 on a voucher. Which I was okay with. I am an EP and have been one for 7 years in a row. I think Hilton was great and I too will try to put as much of my business with them. I too believe that if Delta extends, AA & UA will jump on the bandwagon.

  21. brp

    April 1, 2020 at 11:39 am

    When AA had a big schedule change, I was able to cancel with full refund. When I cancelled by choice (“advice from the government” notwithstanding) I was given a voucher with no associated change fees. These were both as I expected, and fair and reasonable accommodation.

    Cheers.

  22. kkua

    April 2, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Since the Asian dwindling began in February, European embargo in March, and domestic decimation in April, I suspect that’s 3 lost months, or roughly a quarter of the calendar year.

    So, if the bean counters are smart, they would keep the spending requirements in place but reduce the physical flying requirements by 25% or more depending on May and June flying. This approach will 1. cull the herd and 2. keep the revenues coming in and 3. pay better attention to the million mile loyal flyers

  23. CHCflyer

    April 2, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    Small point to this story, but hey writer Joe, I took the picture that heads the story out of the United Club window at Logan two years ago – do you give credit to photographers?

  24. Meg Butler

    April 2, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    We do! Sorry about that oversight, and thanks for letting us know! I’ve added the credit.

  25. CHCflyer

    April 2, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Cheers Meg – thought it looked familiar – nice little buzz seeing it up there.

  26. MRM

    April 3, 2020 at 9:15 am

    UA took over 2 days to get through to on the phone (all email is unanswered thus far), 2 hours on hold /1 hour talking to 3 different agents = “we’ll get back to you”. I also submitted my official letter of cancellation of the event due to COVID-19 (that’s all it took to refund my tix through SWA for another trip in April). It’s been 10 days and I’m not sure if they’re going to remember we talked…

    JACKIE:
    There’s sure to be lots of screaming and crying in hospitals in 9-10 months, that’s for sure!

  27. born sleepy

    April 5, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    I got this email from DL this morning and here’s the relevant part:

    “Medallion Status: Your current Medallion Status will automatically be extended through 2021 whether or not you requalify. In addition, all of your 2020 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) will be rolled over in 2021. If you are enrolled in Status promotions, you will also receive additional flexibility to complete those requirements.”

  28. psusaver

    April 6, 2020 at 6:00 am

    United just sent this in email

    “Since you’re a member of our MileagePlus program, I’m writing to let you know that we’re reducing status qualifications by 50% for 2021, therefore making it easier to achieve status with MileagePlus”

    I am sure everyone else got something similar with a whole of other details. Worth checking your email to see what sorta things they send to each person.

  29. White Eagle

    April 10, 2020 at 10:52 am

    UA: No surprise at no answer. UA is probably still looking for a clue. United’s skint-flint cheapskate skies will be filled with a lot of nothing burgers or anything else even remotely close to assisting those unfortunate enough to have to take a UA flight.
    A Good Suggestion: Make sure that through the current confusion, UA does not “accidentally” erase accumulated mileage.

  30. miami888

    April 10, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    This makes 911 and 2008 look like bull market.
    We are really at the economic pit fall …. no one could imagine on earth… e
    Everything will change. (IMHO)
    Buckle your seat belts, its going to be a bumpy flight!

    Smart for AA to wait to see how things fail or rise.

  31. dogcanyon

    April 13, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    American Airlines just extended status. Once you verify this, you will want to update the article to be current.

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