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As airplanes across the globe are grounded due to government-imposed travel bans, many airlines are modifying their policies around refunds, flight waivers and cancellations, and now, also extending status and sometimes lowering qualification requirements for elite members of their frequent-flyer programs. 

Read below for more information from many major U.S. airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is extending elite status for members of its Mileage Plan through December 31, 2021. Additionally:

  • All companion certificates currently expiring in 2020 will be extended through December 31, 2020, for travel through November 26, 2021.
  • All status benefits will be honored with the exception of the 50,000 bonus miles earned when achieving 75K status. 
  • Members enrolled in the status-match challenge between December 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, will have their trial status extended through December 31, 2021.
  • Mileage Plan status will be automatically updated at the end of 2020. 
  • More information can be found here.

American Airlines

American Airlines is extending the current status of its AAdvantage members through January 31, 2022. Additionally:

  • The airline has also made it easier to qualify for elite status by lowering the threshold for qualification through December 31, 2020. 
  • Unused upgrades expiring January 31, 2021, will be extended through July 31, 2021.
  • Award reinstatement and change fees will be waived for airfare booked by May 31, 2020, for travel through September 30, 2020. Reinstatement and change fees for award travel ticketed after June 1, 2020, will be waived if ticket update is processed within 60 days of travel. 
  • Every dollar spent on a qualifying AAdvantage credit card between May 1 and December 31, 2020, qualifies as 1 mile toward Million Miler status.
  • Aadvantage elite status will automatically be updated on May 15, 2020.
  • More information can be found here.

Related: COVID-19 Flight Waivers and Refund Policies by Airline

Delta Air Lines

Delta Airlines is extending elite status to members of its SkyMiles Medallion program through January 31, 2022. Additionally:

  • All elite qualifying miles earned via flights or through purchases on the Delta SkyMiles American Express in 2020 will be rolled over to 2021 to help qualify for 2022 Medallion status. 
  • Delta lounge memberships expiring after March 1, 2020, will get a six month extension.
  • Companion certificates expiring March 1 - June 30, 2020, are extended through December 31, 2020, for Platinum and Reserve members.
  • $100 flight credits earned by Gold members are extended an extra six months.
  • One-time guest passes for lounge access are extended an extra six months.
  • Upgrade certificates and $200 travel vouchers expiring March 1, 2020, or later are extended an extra six months.
  • Priority Boarding benefits will be extended an extra six months.
  • All Medallion drink vouchers will be extended an extra six months.
  • Medallion status will automatically be updated on February 1, 2021.
  • More information can be found here.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is extending elite status to most A-List and A-List Preferred members through December 31, 2021. This does not apply to members pursuing permanent elite status through one of the various promotions, who must meet the promotion’s flight requirements by October 30, 2020, in order to maintain elite status through December 31, 2021. Additionally: 

  • Companion Passes currently expiring on December 31, 2020, will be extended through June 30, 2021.
  • All Rapid Rewards members with a valid account on April 1, 2020, will be awarded 15,000 tier qualifying points, 10 flight segments toward tier status, 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points, and 25 qualifying one-way flight segments toward Companion Pass. See the chart above for member and Companion Pass qualifications. 
  • For members of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program, travel funds issued on or expiring between March 1, 2020, and September 7, 2020, can convert travel funds into Rapid Reward points. 
  • Travel funds currently expiring between March 1, 2020, and September 7, 2020, will be extended through September 7, 2022.
  • More information can be found here.

Related: The Airlines Most (and Least) Likely to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis

United Airlines

United Airlines is extending elite status to members of its MileagePlus program through January 31, 2022. Additionally:

  • Thresholds to reach elite status in 2021 have decreased by 50 percent. A minimum of four flight segments is required. See the chart above for more information on elite qualifications.
  • Between May 1 and December 31, 2020, United is doubling the number of PQPs earned on the United Explorer card and quadrupling them on the United Club card. 
  • Six month extension for PlusPoints expiring before February 1, 2021, for Platinum and 1K members.
  • Up to two years to redeem electronic travel certificates issued for flight cancellations, including certificates issued on or after April 1, 2020.
  • Lounge access, checked bag, and Wi-Fi memberships purchased directly from United will be extended an additional six months.
  • Waiving award redeposit fees for flight cancellations through the end of May 2020.
  • Waiving award redeposit fees for flight cancellations through December 31, 2020, if processed at least 30 days before departure.
  • More information can be found here.

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