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 was the airline industry. At the start of the pandemic, there were mandatory shelter-in-place orders, countries with closed borders, limits on large gatherings, and more that left airline companies reeling.

With the world’s travel plans getting rescheduled or canceled left and right, airlines were 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.

With the help of some government bailouts, vaccines, and countries opening their borders again, travel has rebounded impressively. But what does that mean for you?

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

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 AirlinesYesYesYes
British AirwaysNoYesYes
Delta Air LinesMiles Never ExpireYesYes
EmiratesYesNoYes
EtihadNoN/AYes
Hawaiian AirlinesMiles Never ExpireYesYes
JetBlueMiles Never ExpireYesYes
KLMYesN/AYes
LATAMYesYesYes
QantasNoNoYes
Qatar AirwaysNoYesYes
Singapore AirlinesYesYesYes
Southwest AirlinesMiles Never ExpireYesYes
Spirit AirlinesNoNoNo
TAP Air PortugalYesYesYes
Turkish AirlinesYesNoYes
United AirlinesMiles Never ExpireYesYes
Virgin AtlanticYesYesYes
WestJetMiles Never ExpireYesYes

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 at least January 31, 2022. After that date, 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 2022, and they can also gift their same level of status to a friend or family member. If you earned elite status in 2021, your status as well as your Status Qualifying Miles (SQMs), Status Qualifying Segments (SQSs), and Status Qualifying Dollars (SQDs) will all rollover to help you qualify for 2022.

Any unused Priority Reward vouchers earned in 2020 will be extended through December 2022.

Air France

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

Additionally, Flying Blue will prevent all miles from expiring between now and December 31, 2021, for all members. If you fly Air France or KLM between July 2021 and December 2021, you will earn double XP.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is extending the elite status of all existing Mileage Plan 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.

Qualifications for 2021 MVP elite status have been reduced; the updated requirements are:

  • MVP: 20,000 eligible miles or 30 segments
  • MVP Gold: 40,000 eligible miles or 60 segments
  • MVP Gold 75K: 75,000 eligible miles or 90 segments
  • MVP Gold 100K: 100,000 miles or 140 segments (newly launched in September 2021)

Travelers flying Alaska Airlines between September 2021 and December 2021 will automatically receive 50% more Mileage Plan EQMs to make qualifying for status in 2022 easier. If you had status in 2021 but fail to requalify, your status will be extended through April 30, 2022.

There has been no mention of point expiration, but as long as your account has some activity (even via the shopping portal), 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 AAdvantage elite members happy.

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

American 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.

For members with elite status, they can keep their status through 2022 by spending $15,000 on an AAdvantage credit card between July 15, 2021, and November 15, 2021.

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, 2022, and 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. However, all miles expirations are paused through December 31, 2021.

An additional program change began on January 1, 2021, and elites are no longer 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.

Hot Tip: As of November 11, 2020, American Airlines eliminated all change, cancel, and redeposit fees on award tickets. 

British Airways

British Airways has extended Executive Club benefits for members with a status end date between January 1, 2022, and March 31, 2022, for 12 months. Additionally, those members will have their Tier qualification thresholds reduced by 25% for 2022.

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

Finally, Gold Upgrade Vouchers, Companion Vouchers, and Travel Together Tickets earned via a British Airways credit card will be extended by 6 months if they were scheduled to expire before December 31, 2021.

For passengers who received an eVoucher or Future Travel Voucher due to a canceled flight (even if the passenger voluntarily chose to cancel), the voucher is now valid until April 30, 2023.

Delta

All Delta SkyMiles Medallion Elite statuses will be extended yet again, through January 31, 2023. Medallion Members who are currently earning status by traveling in 2021 will receive elevated benefits for 2022.

All SkyMiles members will continue to earn at an accelerated rate on most tickets through December 31, 2021.

If you are looking to fast-track your way to status in 2022, Delta has some options for you including:

  • Counting award travel towards elite status
  • 50% bonus on Delta tickets
  • 75% bonus on premium fare products

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

  • Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates will receive an extended expiration date of December 31, 2023, and can now be used for award ticket bookings.
  • 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 be able to use it through January 31, 2023.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card members with unused Companion Certificates as of July 31, 2021, or Companion Certificates issued between August 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, will have the expiration date extended to book and fly by January 31, 2023.
  • Delta Reserve cardmembers will be able to use their Delta Sky Club 1-Time Guest Passes through January 31, 2023.

Finally, all voucher tickets either expiring or purchased in 2021 will be extended until December 31, 2022.

Emirates

Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold, and Platinum members with a tier status review in 2021 will automatically have their existing status extended by 12 months to 2022.

Any Skywards miles that were due to expire on or after April 2020 have been extended until December 31, 2021.

Additionally, eligible flights booked by June 30, 2021, qualify for double Tier Miles when you fly by December 31, 2021.

Etihad

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

Etihad has not made the biggest splash when it comes to keeping Etihad Guest elite members happy, but there are some notable updates…

Members who were not able to meet their minimum Tier requirements will have their existing Tier status extended through June 30, 2022.

Tier Miles and Tier Segments requirements have been reduced by 20% until June 30, 2022, to help achieve and maintain tiers.

Hawaiian Airlines

As of February 12, 2021, HawaiianMiles no longer expire.

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

Current Pualani Elite members have had their statuses extended through February 2022. Additionally, requirements for achieving 2022 Pualani Gold or Platinum status have been reduced by 50%.

The updated qualifications for 2022 are:

Elite StatusSegmentsMiles
Pualani Gold15 segments10,000 miles
Pualani Platinum30 segments20,000 miles

JetBlue

JetBlue extended TrueBlue Mosaic status through December 31, 2021, for all existing elite members.

Additionally, requirements for qualifying for Mosaic status for 2021 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)

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 December 2021 for another 12 months.

Additionally, Flying Blue will prevent all miles from expiring between now and December 31, 2021, for all members. As mentioned above, travelers on Air France or KLM between July 2021 and December 2021, will earn double XP.

LATAM

LATAM has extended LATAM Pass 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 have been reduced by 30%.

Qantas

In 2020, all Platinum One, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Qantas Frequent Flyer members who had not earned the required Status Credits to retain status received a 12-month extension.

Members will also receive status support:

  • If Australia and New Zealand-based members book and pay for an eligible flight before June 30, 2022, their status will be extended for a further 12 months.
  • Elite members outside of Australia and New Zealand will receive an extension as well, but without the flight requirement.

Qatar Airways

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

Privilege Club elite members whose status was due to expire before January 31, 2021, automatically had their status extended by 12 months through December 31, 2021.

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 Silver and Gold elite members have had their status extended through February 2022 and elite miles have been rolled over to the next membership year to allow for faster qualifications.

Additionally, miles that were due to expire between July 2021 and March 2022 will be extended through April 2022. To make things easier to understand, Singapore has created a page dedicated to membership waivers and extensions.

KrisFlyer has also introduced Milestone Awards that you can learn more about here and is allowing members to earn status through online shopping and point transfers.

Southwest Airlines

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

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

If you were looking for a headstart on next year’s qualifications, Southwest has given 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.

As always, Rapid Rewards points don’t expire.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit launched a new Free Spirit program in January 2021.

There is currently no mention of reduced qualifications or changes due to the coronavirus, but points will never expire as long as there is activity on the account during a 12-month period, or if you have the Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard® or Free Spirit® Travel Mastercard®.

TAP Air Portugal

Miles&Go 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 up to December 31, 2021.

Additionally, if you have miles set to expire from August 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, 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

Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles hasn’t been too generous when it comes to extensions. Miles expirations were only extended until June 30, 2021, and elite status until October 1, 2021.

If you need to extended miles or status any further, there is an option to purchase miles to reach the level needed.

United Airlines

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

All United MileagePlus elite members will have their status automatically extended through January 31, 2022.

Additionally, status qualifications have been reduced for the 2022 year. The new requirements are:

2022 StatusEarn Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF)and Premier Qualifying Points (PQP)…or Meet a Higher PQP Goal
Silver83,0003,500
Gold166,0007,000
Platinum249,00010,000
1K3613,50015,000

Members who held United MileagePlus Premier status at the end of 2020 received a 25% bonus of the 2021 PQP requirement to help them achieve status for 2021.

The bonuses were:

  • Silver: 875 PQP
  • Gold: 1,750 PQP
  • Platinum: 2,500 PQP
  • Premier 1K: 3,750 PQP

Additionally, all electronic travel certificates now have 24 months to be used and future flight credits are valid through December 31, 2022.

Hot Tip: United had a status match challenge program for requests received between January 5, 2021, and June 30, 2021. If you met the criteria to participate, “your account will be upgraded to Premier Silver, Premier Gold, or Premier Platinum status for 120 days based on the level you hold in your current frequent flyer program.” You’d have specific PQF and PQP requirements to meep in order to keep the status for the remainder of 2021.

Virgin Atlantic

Many Virgin Atlantic Silver and Gold Flying Club members have had their status extended 24 months from the original expiration date.

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® have had the validity of the voucher extended by 12 months.

Finally, Gold members who 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 have had these rewards extended by 3 months, as well.

WestJet

WestJet Rewards has extended Platinum, Gold, and Silver status and tier benefits for members through December 31, 2022. Qualifying times have also been extended through December 31, 2021, to allow for more time to achieve elite status.

Any unused vouchers will either be extended through December 31, 2022, or new vouchers will be issued if qualifying spend has been met.

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.

While the airlines certainly struggled at first, they seem to be doing quite fine now and passengers are boarding in record numbers.

From a consumer perspective, flyers 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!


The information regarding the Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard®, Free Spirit® Travel Mastercard®, Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card, Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card, and the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.


Frequently asked questions

Will my elite status be extended?

Many airlines are offering elite status extensions 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 at least 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 to the end of 2021 and even into 2023! Depending on how long it takes for people to really start flying again, that timeframe could likely 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!

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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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