The coronavirus situation is changing rapidly, and frequent flyers and hotel loyalty members are left wondering what recourse they have when it comes to their member status and points or miles. Here’s what you need to know about relief measures from major programs.
While COVID-19 has affected all parts of daily life, the travel industry has certainly been put on hold as people have had to cancel plans and stay at home. Since most travelers plan many months in advance, this also leaves many holding tickets they can no longer use. Frequent flyers and hotel loyalty members are left wondering what recourse they have, if any, when it comes to their member status and points or miles.
We researched the major players in the hotel and airline industry to find out how these companies plan to accommodate their valued members – by extending points, status levels and more – in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus relief measures by loyalty or travel program
Hilton HonorsIn addition to donating up to one million rooms to medical professionals, Hilton has promised to compensate its Hilton Honors loyalty program members in a number of ways.
- Status earned in 2019: All Diamond, Gold and Silver status members who were due for a downgrade as of March 2020 will receive an automatic status extension through March 31, 2021.
- Status earned in 2020: All 2020 Diamond, Gold and Silver members will get to continue to enjoy their benefits through March 21, 2022 (24 months).
Points set to expire by Dec. 31, 2020, will be temporarily paused. No points will expire before that date.
Weekend night rewards on eligible Hilton credit cards that were not expired by March 11, 2020, and any new rewards issued through Aug. 30, 2020, will now be valid through August 31, 2021.
To ensure member safety, Hilton is providing flexible cancellations and full points refunds for all Hilton Honors experiences booked through May 31, 2021.
You can follow further updates for Hilton Honors members on the loyalty program website.
Marriott plans to compensate its Marriott Bonvoy members, although benefits may vary depending on members’ location. All updates will be complete by the end of April 2020.
Bonvoy members who earned elite status for 2020 can now enjoy their benefits through February 2022.
Points set to expire by February 2021 will be paused, and no points will expire until after that time period.
Active free night awards (as part of Marriott credit cards or packages) set to expire beginning March 1, 2020, will be extended through Jan. 31, 2021. Suite night awards set to expire by Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended another year through Dec. 31, 2021.
Stay up to date on relief measures for Bonvoy members on the company’s COVID-19 page.
IHG Rewards Club
Due to travel constraints and shortened travel periods, IHG has lowered its requirements for elite status membership by 25% or more, as well as extended statuses and points for all members (since elite members’ points never expire).
Lower status requirements
|Status||Previous qualification requirements||New qualification requirements|
See related: The benefits of IHG Rewards Club elite status
Points for all members due to expire from April 1 through Dec.31, 2020, will be extended. No points will expire until Dec. 31, 2020.
Program statuses will be extended through January 2022 for all members. Spire elite members will also retain their Choice benefit of 25,000 bonus points or gifting of Platinum Elite status to someone each year.
Anniversary night certificates (U.S. and U.K. only) set to expire before March 1, 2020, will be extended through the end of the year. All 2020 certificates will be redeemable for 18 months, instead of the usual 12.
Follow updates to IHG Rewards Club benefits on the program’s travel advisory page.
World of Hyatt
The World of Hyatt loyalty program will extend all statuses and rewards to compensate valued members.
All active elite statuses, as of March 31, 2020, will be extended through Feb. 28, 2022.
Forfeiting points due to inactivity will be suspended through Dec. 31, 2020. No points will expire until that date.
Any earned rewards, such as free nights or upgrades, set to expire between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, the World of Hyatt credit card users can earn 3 tier-qualifying night credits toward the next tier status for every $5,000 spent on their card from April 15 through June 30, 2020. That includes 2 qualifying night credit you already earn, plus 1 bonus night credit.
Legacy Hyatt credit cardmembers can earn 2 tier-qualifying night credits toward the next tier status for every $5,000 spent on their card from April 15 through June 30, 2020.
On top of that, anyone who applies for the World of the Hyatt credit card can receive 10 night credits when approved. That includes 5 tier-qualifying night credits already received as a new cardmember, plus 5 additional tier-qualifying night credits. The offer is valid from April 15, 2020, through June 30, 2020.
Check the updates to Hyatt relief measures on the program’s COVID-19 page.
On April 14, 2020, Wyndham announced it will be extending elite status for all members through Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, the chain is offering free Gold elite status to essential workers through the same date as a part of their #EverydayHeroes initiative.
Previously, on April 7, 2020, the company promised to extend points for all Wyndham Rewards members.
According to Wyndham, the company is also considering relaxing Member Level earning requirements. “We are committed to, and actively exploring, additional steps that we can take to help all Wyndham Rewards members globally,” Wyndham said in a statement. “Due to rapidly evolving circumstances, it’s too soon to share specifics, however, we will do so as soon as possible.”
Points set to expire between now and May 31, 2020, will be extended through the end of 2021.
Reward status levels for all members will be extended through the end of 2021.
Wyndham is giving a Gold membership upgrade to all essential workers. To receive the upgrade, they can sign up for the offer online.
Keep an eye on Wyndham’s COVID-19 statement page for updates.
It took Choice some time to follow suit and join other hotel chains in extending elite statuses and offering other promotions amid the outbreak. On May 21, 2020, the company announced a series of offers to expand the benefits of its Choice Privileges loyalty program.
“Even during this crisis, our members found a number of ways to engage with us and make a difference,” said Jamie Russo, vice president, loyalty programs and customer engagement, Choice Hotels. “Some of them are essential and frontline workers who chose to stay in our small-business hotels, and others showed their generosity by donating their Choice Privileges points to aid recovery efforts. Our latest loyalty program changes tell our members that we appreciate their continued support and our hotels are here to welcome them whenever they feel safe traveling again.”
The expiration of loyalty points will be paused until Dec. 31, 2020, for all members.
All members’ current elite statuses will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.
Lower status requirements
Choice is also easing requirements to qualify for elite status in 2021.
|Elite status||Previous status requirements||2021 status requirements|
|Gold status||10 nights||7 nights|
|Platinum status||20 nights||15 nights|
|Diamond status||40 nights||25 nights|
Additionally, Choice is giving current elite members a limited-time upgrade to the next tier. Gold members will be upgraded to Platinum status and Platinum members will be upgraded to Diamond. To keep their upgraded tier through 2021, members will need to stay at least five nights by Dec. 31, 2020.
While Diamond status members can’t be upgraded since there’s no higher tier, they will be getting a 10% bonus, on top of their standard 50% elite bonus, on all points earned through Dec. 31, 2020.
United has said it would compensate their MileagePlus members by extending all annual memberships, subscriptions and checked bag benefits for six months. United also plans to make status membership requirements easier and will release information later in 2020.
All MileagePlus Premier members will get to retain their 2020 status through Jan. 31, 2022.
Lower status requirements
MileagePlus Premier membership now has easier requirements, reduced 50% for each status level.
|2021 status||Premier qualifying flights||and PQP||… or PQP|
MileagePlus Premier members will also have the chance to increase the maximum number of Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) they can earn on their United Club Infinite Card or United Explorer Card they can earn in 2020. From May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, members can earn double (Explorer) or quadruple (Club Infinite) points, depending on the card.
All valid travel certificates issued on or after April 1, 2020, will be extended to be valid for two years for booking, as well as up to an additional 11 months to travel. All redeposit fees for flights booked through May 31, 2020, will be waived, as well as all fees for members who cancel within at least 30 days of departure.
Follow more updates to United MileagePlus on the program’s travel notice page.
Delta has stepped up to say they will compensate their Medallion members and that all updates would happen by the end of April 2020.
2020 Medallion Member status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2022, and this change should be reflected on the member’s SkyMiles account by Feb. 1, 2021. Additionally, all 2020 Medallion Qualification Miles will roll over into 2021.
Follow updates to the Delta SkyMiles program on the coronavirus travel update page.
American Airlines AAdvantage
As AAdvantage members experience reduced travel opportunities due to the coronavirus, American Airlines is offering elite status extension, lowering elite status requirements and allowing eligible cardholders to earn miles toward Million Miler status with credit card spend.
Members whose elite status expires on Jan. 31, 2021, will automatically get an extension until Jan. 31, 2022.
Lower status requirements
Members will be able to qualify for a higher elite status in 2020 with lower requirements, including Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD), Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) and Elite Qualifying Segment (EQS).
|Gold oneworld Ruby||Platinum oneworld Sapphire||Platinum Pro oneworld Sapphire||Executive Platinum oneworld Emerald|
All eligible Citi / AAdvantage and AAdvantage Aviator credit cards will earn 1 mile per dollar on net purchases toward Million Miler status between May 2020 and December 2020.
Citi is also offering a one-time $225 statement credit upon account renewal to Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® cardholders whose accounts were open as of March 31, 2020.
Additionally, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® users whose flight discounts were set to expire between March 31, 2020, and May 31, 2020, will get a six-month extension. The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® cardholders who hold a companion certificate expiring Dec. 31, 2020, will receive a six-month extension as well, bringing the expiration date to June 30, 2021.
American Airlines is waving reinstatement and change charges for awards booked by May 31, 2020, for travel through Sep. 30, 2020. For travel booked on or after June 1, 2020, the company will wave reinstatement and change fees if the change is made at least 60 days before travel. If the change is made within 60 days, a new fee structure will apply as follows:
|Elite status||At least 7 days, but fewer than 60 days before travel||Fewer than 7 days before travel|
Learn more about AAdvantage program updates on aa.com.
JetBlue took a bit longer to join other airlines in taking measures to support loyal customers. On May 14, JetBlue announced it’s extending Mosaic elite statuses, as well as making it easier to earn one.
All currently valid Mosaic elite statuses will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021.
Lower status requirements
JetBlue is reducing the qualifying thresholds for Mosaic status by 50% for 2020. To earn the status this year, you’ll need to earn 7,500 qualifying TrueBlue base points or 6,000 qualifying TrueBlue base points and 15 flight segments.
Alternatively, you can get the elite status by spending $50,000 in annual net purchases on the JetBlue Plus card – this spending requirement hasn’t changed for 2020.
On top of that, JetBlue is allowing Mosaic members to gift the status to a friend or family member. That person will be able to enjoy the status between June 15, 2020, and June 15, 2021, and get all the standard Mosaic benefits, except for the 15,000 points bonus. To apply for this benefit, current Mosaic members need to fill out an online form by June 1, 2020.
All JetBlue cobranded credit cardholders will be eligible to earn double TrueBlue points for purchases made from May 14 through June 15.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
On April 16, Southwest announced a status extension for A-List and A-List Preferred members and companion passes. The company is also giving a points “boost” to all Rapid Rewards members.
“As we continue to navigate our way through this unprecedented time and deal with extraordinary challenges, we are committed to keeping you informed and updated on the steps we are taking to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Southwest said in a message to Rapid Rewards members.
Earned statuses for A-List and A-List Preferred members will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021. Companion Pass holders will retain their benefits until June 30, 2021.
Southwest is giving all Rapid Rewards members a “boost” of 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status.
Southwest cardholders can also spend their way all the way to A-List status for the first time ever, with no cap on tier qualifying points (TQPs) earned through card spend. Previously, cardholders could only earn up to 15,000 TQPs per year via card spend. Southwest has also doubled the number of TQPs earned from 1,500 to 3,000 for every $10,000 spent on a Southwest card.
Additionally, travel funds created or expiring between March 1, 2020, and Sep. 7, 2020, will now expire on Sep. 7, 2022. Alternatively, Rapid Rewards members can convert those funds into Rapid Rewards points. According to Southwest, the conversion ratio is “the same rate you would be able to purchase a ticket with points today.”
As the coronavirus situation is unprecedented and changing rapidly every day, hotels and airlines continue to make updates to their travel policies, including their loyalty programs. Travelers should continue to check airline and hotel websites as the situation evolves. If they cannot find the information they need online, they should contact their hotel, airline or travel agency’s customer service number.
CLEAR is a program that makes it quicker for travelers to get through airport security lanes by using biometrics for ID verification. Since many people are currently avoiding traveling due to the coronavirus outbreak, a CLEAR membership might not be useful at the moment.
Fortunately, CLEAR is allowing members to request a three-month extension to their membership, which can be done by contacting the company directly. With customer service channels such as phone lines overloaded by requests, the fastest way to do so is via CLEAR’s online chat. However, some users have reported experiencing difficulties finding the chat box on the website. Alternatively, you can reach CLEAR by text, email or phone.
TSA Precheck is a five-year membership that provides expedited security checks at select domestic airports in the U.S. At this time, TSA is planning to keep enrollment centers open while working to determine if any temporary closures are required. Some centers have been closed or changed hours.
If you’re planning to visit an enrollment center, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment – as walk-ins may be deferred.
Visit TSA’s enrollment questions page for more information.
Global Entry, a program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows travelers to get expedited clearance through automatic kiosks when arriving in the U.S, has temporarily suspended enrollment until at least July 6, 2020. If you’ve been conditionally approved, you will need to reschedule your enrollment center interview for after that date using the online scheduling tool.
As another option, the “Enrollment on Arrival” program is still operational. It allows conditionally approved applicants to complete the application process upon arrival on an international flight at any of the airports offering the program.
“CBP’s highest priority is to ensure the health, safety and security of our workforce and the American people,” CBP stated in its announcement. “CBP agents, officers and mission support personnel will continue to support the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak has also affected processing times for Global Entry renewals, CPB has increased the renewal grace period to 18 months. This means that if you apply for your Global Entry renewal before its expiration date, you’ll be able to use Global Entry for another 18 months.