Coronavirus (COVID-19): Airline Elite Status Extensions, Changes, and Updates

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It is no surprise that one of the biggest industries affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is the airline industry. Mandatory shelter-in-place orders, countries with closed borders, limits on large gatherings, and general fear have left airline companies reeling.

With the world’s travel plans getting rescheduled or canceled left and right, airlines have been forced to adapt to this new reality while also refocusing their plans for the future.

Part of those plans includes making sure that loyal customers come back. And the first step in doing that is making sure that the perks that many elite members were used to receiving will still be there when they are ready to fly again.

Here is your guide for what some of the world’s most popular airlines are doing when it comes to extending elite statuses, miles, and more.

Airline Responses Overview

United Airplane Newark New Jersey New York NYC
Image Credit: Tim Gouw via Pexels

Airlines have been updating their policies on what feels like a daily basis. This chart will be updated frequently with the most up-to-date information we have from the airlines.

You will find more detailed information about individual frequent flyer programs below the chart.

Airline Benefits Chart

AirlineExtending Miles?Extending Certificates?Extending Elite Status?
Air CanadaYesYesYes
Air FranceYesN/AYes
Alaska AirlinesNoYesYes
American AirlinesNoYesYes
British AirwaysNoYesYes
Delta Air LinesNoYesYes
EmiratesYesNoYes
EtihadNoN/ANo
Hawaiian AirlinesYesYesYes
JetBluePoints Never ExpireYesYes
KLMYesN/AYes
LATAMYesYesYes
QantasNoNoYes
Qatar AirwaysNoYesYes
Singapore AirlinesYesYesYes
Southwest AirlinesYesYesYes
Spirit AirlinesYesYesNo
TAP Air Portugal YesYesYes
Turkish AirlinesNoNoYes
United AirlinesNoYesYes
Virgin AtlanticYesYesYes
WestJetNoYesYes

Individual Airline Responses (Elite Status Requirements)

Air Canada

Air Canada and Aeroplan are making sure that frequent flyers are not forgotten. To start, miles will not expire through June 29, 2020. However, starting June 30, 2020, the normal rules apply and accounts without activity for 12 months will start to forfeit their points.

Additionally, elite members will have their statuses extended through 2021 and they can also gift their same level of status to a friend or family member.

Air France

Air France and Flying Blue will maintain all elite members with a qualification period ending between March 2020 and February 2021 for another 12 months.

Additionally, it will prevent all miles from expiring between now and the end of 2020 for all members.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is extending the elite status of all existing members through December 31, 2021. If you enrolled in a status match challenge between December 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, you will have your trial status extended through the end of 2021.

All companion certificates set to expire in 2020 will also be extended. Passengers will now have until December 31, 2020, to book new travel through November 26, 2021. eWallet credits have been extended by 6 months as well.

There has been no mention of point expiration, but as long as your account has some activity (even through shopping portals), your Mileage Plan points will stay active.

American Airlines

American Airlines 767 Landing at Boston Logan Airport BOS
American Airlines 767 approach at BOS. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

American Airlines has continued to roll out a whole bunch of incentives to keep elite members happy when they start flying again.

To start, all elite members will have their status extended through January 31, 2022, and the qualification for 2021 will start October 1, 2020 — giving members an extra 3 months to qualify for status.

On top of that, the requirements for reaching elite status in 2020 have been reduced as well. The new requirements are:

2020            Qualifying MetricGold
Oneworld Ruby
Platinum
Oneworld Sapphire
Platinum Pro
Oneworld Sapphire
Executive Platinum
Oneworld Emerald
EQDs$1,500$4,000$6,000$9,000
EQMs15,00030,00045,00060,000
EQSs15304560

The new lower qualification thresholds will take effect by May 15, 2020. Once these changes are in place, members who reach the lower thresholds during 2020 will receive their status immediately upon qualifying (or retroactively, once the changes take effect), valid through January 31, 2022.

American Airlines has also reduced qualification thresholds for 2021 by 20% to 33% from the pre-pandemic requirements.

2021            Qualifying MetricGold
Oneworld Ruby
Platinum
Oneworld Sapphire
Platinum Pro
Oneworld Sapphire
Executive Platinum
Oneworld Emerald
EQDs$2,000$4,500$7,000$12,000
EQMs20,00040,00060,00080,000
EQSs20457095

Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Pro members can have the EQD requirement waived by spending $30,000 on select co-branded AA credit cards.

Any Executive Platinum member with a systemwide upgrade certificate with an expiration date of January 31, 2021, will have it automatically extended through July 31, 2021. Basic Economy fares are now eligible for systemwide upgrades as of October 1, 2020.

Starting July 1, 2020, miles will not expire for members under the age of 21. Members 21 and over will need to have account activity within 18 months to prevent their miles from expiring.

If you have an eligible American Airlines AAdvantage credit card, your spend on that card from May 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, will count towards your Million Miler status.

An additional program change will take place on January 1, 2021, when elites will no longer be able to earn elite-qualifying miles, segments, or dollars from Basic Economy fares. Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members can also expect a choice of rewards beyond SWUs in 2021, including Admirals Club day passes, bonus miles, and merchandise.

British Airways

British Airways is extending Executive Club benefits for members who have elite status as of July 2020 for 12 months, through June 2021. Additionally, those members will have their Tier qualification thresholds reduced by 25% for 2021.

The new qualification thresholds are:

  • Bronze: 225 Tier Points or 18 eligible flights
  • Silver: 450 Tier Points or 37 eligible flights
  • Gold: 1125 Tier Points

For those elite members who had a Tier upgrade or renewal in April, May, or June 2020, thresholds have been reduced by 30% for 2021.

Those qualification thresholds are:

  • Bronze: 210 Tier Points
  • Silver: 420 Tier Points
  • Gold: 1050 Tier Points

Finally, Gold Upgrade Vouchers, Companion Vouchers, and Travel Together Tickets earned via a British Airways credit card will be extended by 6 months, including those earned between June 2020 and March 2021.

Delta

All Delta SkyMiles Medallion Elite statuses will be extended by 12 months, through January 31, 2022. Additionally, all 2020 MQMs will be rolled over to 2021 for qualification towards 2022 Medallion status.

If you have a voucher in your My Wallet section of your SkyMiles account, the following extensions have been made:

  • A 6-month extension on eligible Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates and $200 Delta Travel Vouchers selected as Choice Benefits.
  • SkyMiles Select members will receive a 6-month extension to the priority boarding benefit and any unused drink vouchers.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card members who have earned a $100 Delta Flight Credit will get a 6-month extension beyond their current expiration date.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card members with Companion Certificates with an original expiration date between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020, can use them to book and fly by December 31, 2020. Certificates that expire between July 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, will receive an additional 6 months after the current expiration date.
  • Delta Reserve cardmembers will also get a 6-month extension to use their Delta Sky Club 1-Time Guest Passes beyond their current expiration date.

Hot Tip: In Q4 2020, Delta is also offering a short-term status match with an additional challenge that would allow you to participate in a fast-track status challenge and qualify for up to top Diamond Medallion status. Completing the challenge could extend the granted status until the end of January 2022. 

Emirates

Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold, and Platinum members with a tier status review between September 2020 and August 2021 will automatically have their existing status extended by 12 months.

Elite members can re-qualify for status with only 80% of the normal requirements.

Additionally, members will not have miles expire until December 31, 2020.

Etihad

Etihad Airways Airbus A380 Business Studio Flat-Bed
Etihad Airways Airbus A380 Business Studio Flat-Bed. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Etihad Guest members will receive double Tier Miles on all trips between March 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, to help maintain Tier Status.

Starting March 31, 2020, members will automatically receive monthly bonus Tier Miles. This will apply for all membership tiers, including those in a Family Membership.

Hawaiian Airlines

HawaiianMiles will not be expiring from March 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Members with miles set to expire within this time period will retain their full mileage balance. The standard expiration policy will resume on January 1, 2021.

For members currently enrolled in Premier Club, the membership period will be extended by 3 months.

Current Pualani Elite members will have their statuses extended through February 2022. Additionally, requirements for achieving 2021 Pualani Gold or Platinum status have been reduced by 50%. The updated qualifications for 2021 are:

Elite StatusSegmentsMiles
Pualani Gold15 Segments10,000 Miles
Pualani Platinum30 Segments20,000 Miles

JetBlue

JetBlue will automatically extend TrueBlue Mosaic status through December 31, 2021, for all existing elite members. Additionally, requirements for qualifying for Mosaic status for this year have been reduced to:

  • 7,500 Mosaic qualifying points (vs. the usual 15,000 points)
  • 6,000 Mosaic qualifying points and 15 segments (vs. the usual 12,000 points and 30 segments)

Current Mosaic members had the opportunity to gift Mosaic status to a friend or family member for 1 year. Requests needed to be submitted by June 1, 2020.

Travelers with expiring Travel Bank credits will have those extended through December 31, 2020. Travel Bank credits issued between February 27, 2020, and June 30, 2020, will have a 24-month expiration period as opposed to the normal 12 months.

And, as always, JetBlue TrueBlue points never expire — although Mosaic members will now need more of them to book extra-legroom seats thanks to a quiet devaluation.

KLM

KLM and Flying Blue will maintain all elite members with a qualification period ending between March 2020 and February 2021 for another 12 months.

Additionally, it will prevent all miles from expiring between now and the end of 2020 for all members.

LATAM

LATAM will extended status to current members who are currently Gold, Gold+, Platinum, Black, or Black Signature through March 2022. Additionally, requirements for reaching elite status for 2021 has been reduced by 30%.

Finally, any points that had expired March, April, or May 2020, have been extended by 90 days to allow for redemption.

Qantas

As of March 19, 2020, all Platinum One, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Qantas Frequent Flyer members who have not earned the required Status Credits to retain status will receive a 12-month extension.

The extension will be processed in 2 phases:

  • If your membership year ends between March and June 2020, it will be automatically extended by March 27, 2020
  • If your membership year ends between July 2020 and February 2021, it will be automatically extended by April 9, 2020

From July 2020 to March 2021, eligible Frequent Flyer members can receive a 50% Status Credit boost to help them maintain their current status. On top of that, members with less time remaining on their current status will receive a monthly Status Credit Support.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Qsuites A350, Passenger Enjoying Movie, Alex Miller of Upgraded Points
Qatar Airways A350 Qsuites. Image Credit: Alex Miller

Elite members who have status that will expire before January 31, 2021, will have their status automatically extended by 12 months.

Additionally, Gold and Platinum members can now enjoy their Qcredits for longer, as they will now remain valid for 2 years, as long as the tier is retained. Qcredits for Gold and Platinum members can be spent on upgrades, extra baggage, and lounge access.

Singapore Airlines

KrisFlyer Elite Silver and Gold membership will have their status extended for 1 membership year. That means that statuses expiring between July and December 2020 will be valid until March 31, 2021.

Additionally, miles that will be expiring between April and August 2020 will be extended by 6 months.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is a popular airline for good reason — and its response to elite status only reinforces that notion.

Southwest is extending current A-List and A-List Preferred Members status through December 31, 2021. On top of that, Companion Pass benefits will be extended through June 30, 2021.

If you are looking for a headstart on next year’s qualifications, Southwest is giving all Rapid Rewards Members a “boost” of 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status.

And if you have any expiring travel funds, don’t worry — those have been extended until September 2022.

Spirit Airlines

All Free Spirit miles in your account as of March 1, 2020, will have their expiration date extended through the end of September 2020.

There has been no information regarding the extension of elite statuses.

TAP Air Portugal

Elite members who earned Silver or Gold status via flying (not via Club TAP Miles&Go or credit cards) will have their status automatically extended for 12 months.

Additionally, if you have miles set to expire from March to May 2020, TAP will extend the validity of those miles for 12 months, provided that you traveled with TAP at least once in the last year or have a Club TAP Miles&Go subscription.

Turkish Airlines

At the time of this writing, the only information we have heard about the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles program is that Elite members will have their status extended by 6 months.

United Airlines

United Polaris Business Class
United Polaris Business Class. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

All United elite members will have their status automatically extended through January 31, 2022. Additionally, status qualifications have been reduced by 50% for the 2021 year. The new requirements are:

2021 StatusEarn Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF)and Premier Qualifying Points (PQP)…or Meet a Higher PQP Goal
Silver62,0002,500
Gold124,0005,000
Platinum186,0007,500
1K269,00012,000

From May 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, United is doubling (for United℠ Explorer Card) or quadrupling (for United Club℠ Card) the maximum number of PQP that cardmembers can earn from card spending during 2020.

Additionally, all electronic travel certificates now have 24 months to be used.

United says that more changes are likely that will impact the 2021 and 2022 status years.

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Silver and Gold Flying Club members will have their status extended by 12 months. That means they will have a total of 24 months to earn the tier points needed to maintain current status or achieve new status.

All FlyingClub miles that are due to expire between April and September 2020, will be automatically extended by 12 months.

Members who have earned companion rewards, Clubhouse access, or upgrades through the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card, Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card, or the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® will have the validity of the voucher extended by 12 months.

Finally, Gold members who have earned a companion reward for renewing Gold status, Clubhouse passes for the 1,500 tier point reward, or the 2,000 tier point upgrade reward will have these rewards extended by 12 months, as well.

WestJet

Since WestJet’s program has a variable qualification period unique to each member, elite extensions have been made on a case-by-case basis. WestJet has already proactively extended or upgraded members who were on track to achieve status in March, April, or May 2020 and will similarly look after those whose tier status may be impacted in the months ahead.

Additionally, it is extending the validity period on the following companion vouchers:

  • Unredeemed companion vouchers expiring in March, April, or May 2020
  • Companion vouchers with an earlier expiration date, that were redeemed for travel between March 1 and June 30, 2020, where travel was canceled due to COVID-19

Hot Tip: Stay up to date with how the coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting U.S. airlines by viewing our dashboard

Final Thoughts

American Airlines Boarding on Apple Watch app
When it is time to fly again, your status should be waiting for you. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

All things considered, most of the major airlines are going to be quite accommodating when it comes to extending elite statuses and benefits.

It is no secret that airlines are struggling financially, and they will be quite aggressive when it comes to getting back their most lucrative customers — those who fly often and hold elite status.

On the other side, customers now have some pretty enticing options with many popular frequent flyer programs offering elite status at a fraction of what they normally require. This could be a good opportunity for someone looking to make the switch from 1 airline to another without missing out on too many perks.

This information will be changing often, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently!


Frequently asked questions

Will my elite status be extended?

Many airlines are offering elite status extension due to COVID-19. In almost all circumstances, these extensions are done automatically, so there is no need to register or request an extension. In most cases, you will see your status extended by 12 months.

Which U.S airlines are offering elite status extensions?

With the exception of a few smaller airlines, including Spirit, almost every American airline is offering a status extension of some sort. Most airlines are offering a 12-month extension of your current status as well as an extension of points and certificates.

Will my frequent flyer miles expire if I can't fly due to coronavirus?

Many airlines are pushing off the expiration of points and miles due to COVID-19. Most companies have started with a 3-6 month extension, but depending on how long it takes for people to really start flying again, that timeframe is likely to be extended.

I have an airline voucher that is expiring --- will that be extended?

Most airlines have put out statements regarding expiring miles, certificates, vouchers, etc. If your airline is not listed in this article, we recommend reaching out directly to their customer service and asking about your specific situation. In most cases, it appears that airlines are going above and beyond to keep customers happy.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

1 comment

  1. Richard Callis May 18, 2020

    Air France/KLM will be discounting the same XP from those that have already qualified so you are overstating their generosity in this crisis. Their response has been very poor unless you don’t fly with them very often.

    Reply

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