Among the perks of being a frequent traveler is being acknowledged as a loyal customer by your favorite airlines and hotels—and the benefits that come with attainting elite status with those brands. But in most cases, it takes a lot of trips—not to mention planning, time and expense—to reach those upper tier circles each year, so with travel currently at a standstill for most of us, it’s only natural to wonder what’s going to happen to those hard-earned benefits for the rest of the year, and how you might be able to make your elite status requirements for 2021, too. Here, we take a look at how some major airlines and hotel brands are reassuring their top customers that their business is important—and that they will be well taken care of when it comes time to travel again.
Major carriers American, United and Delta are all extending current elite status through early-2022 (giving you a whole extra year of your current benefits), and are lowering mileage and spending requirements for achieving higher status for 2022; United has cut the qualification thresholds by 50 percent for each level, while Delta will also roll over any Medallion Qualification Miles you’ve already earned into next year to make it easier to hit status. American’s policy also applies to its invitation-only Concierge Key level; Delta and United have yet to publicly say whether their similar “secret” tiers—Delta 360 and United Global Services, respectively—will get an extension, but current Global Services members are guaranteed to receive at least Premier 1K status through January 2022.
Fliers with Qatar Airways elite status will also receive an additional year to enjoy the same level status, as well as a two year validity of their Gold and Platinum member Qcredit perks. Alaska Airlines is allowing all elite qualifying miles earned during this year to be carried over to the next one, to help speed up elite re-qualification for 2022, and is extending current elite status until the end of 2021. Air France / KLM will give any Flying Blue Elite member with a qualification period before February 2021 an additional year at their level, while Virgin Atlantic is granting fliers its status regulars a six-month extension.
If your Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold or Platinum membership is set to expire before this September, you’ll be given an extension until December; if it will be up for renewal before March 2021, you can keep your existing status by meeting 80 percent of the usual requirements. Fellow Middle Eastern carrier Etihad is adding bonus tier miles to member accounts to get them closer to elite thresholds, and gifting those who do choose to travel with double tier miles through June 30th.
Other road warrior benefits are being safeguarded, too. Cathay Pacific Marco Polo regulars with valid lounge passes, upgrade certificates, and Gold Companion Card nominations are getting a six-month extension to use them, while American travelers with system-wide upgrades set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021 will have six more months to redeem the certificates. Delta Sky Club, American Admirals Club and United Club memberships expiring this year will all be extended for six months, too. An added bonus: If you have the Citi AAdvantage or AAdvantage Aviator credit cards, every dollar spent on the card will count as a mile toward achieving Million Miler status on American.
When you’re ready to hit the road again, your favorite hotels will be waiting with open arms—and your elite benefits. One of the first loyalty programs to announce their COVID-19 response was Hilton Honors, which is not only extending 2020 elite status until March 31, 2022, but also offering those whose status is expiring this year with an extension through March 2021. Current Marriott Bonvoy status is being extended through February 2022—and the expiration of any points in your account has been paused until February 2021. World of Hyatt is also giving those with existing status another year to enjoy it (through February 2022), while Hyatt members that have free night, suite upgrade, or club lounge access awards set to expire at the end of 2020 will now have until December 31, 2021 to use them.
If you’re an Intercontinental loyalist, earning IHG Rewards Club status for the coming year will be easier since IHG lowered qualification thresholds. Members of Accor’s newly-launched Accor Live Limitless (ALL) program—which integrates all its brand loyalty initiatives, include LeClub Accor—will see a boost in their status accounts thanks to an automatic 50 percent credit towards toward status nights and qualification points. And fans of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Shangri-La are also in luck: the former’s I Prefer Hotel Rewards elite memberships be extended until June 2021, while current Shangri-La Golden Circle status will now be good until the end of December 2021.