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Airline Loyalty Programs During the Pandemic: Updates and Changes

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Airline Loyalty Programs

The COVID-19 outbreak affected both business and pleasure travel, and losses of the global airline industry will be huge this year. To retain some of their loyal customers, many airlines have updated their loyalty programs. Below are some of the airlines that have updated their mileage rewards programs due to the coronavirus.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines extended Mileage Plan status through Dec. 31, 2021. All members at all tiers will be able to use status benefits for extra 12 months. Any elite-qualifying miles earned from January 2020 to April 2020 will be rolled into 2021. The airline also extended its companion certificates that are set to expire in 2020: travelers will now have until Dec. 31, 2020 to purchase new travel through Nov. 26, 2021.

Alaska also has plans to partner American Airlines and Oneworld in February, so Mileage Plan status members will receive more benefits closer to launch in summer 2021.

Also, from time to time, Alaska introduces promotional offers to earn through the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. The current limited time offer allows you to earn $100 statement credit, 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

American Airlines

American Airlines extended AAdvantage elite status through Jan. 31 2022 for all members who currently hold elite status. The airline also lowered qualification thresholds for earning an elite status in 2020. Executive Platinum members now have lower requirements to earn awards. Plus, American extended the validity of all unused Systemwide Upgrades (that expire on Jan. 31, 2021) for six months.

Also, American Airlines allows earning AAdvantage miles and Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) with the credit card. New cardmembers can earn American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $ in purchases within the first months of account opening; plus 10,000 AAdvantage EQMs for spending $40,000 in purchases within the year.

Avianca Airlines

Avianca LifeMiles members who earned their elite status in 2019 and received it on March 1, 2020, had their status automatically extended until Jan. 31, 2022. Also, Avianca lowered LifeMiles elite status requirements (miles, segments and dollars) by 50%. Additionally, expiration of miles scheduled between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020 will be paused automatically.

The Avianca Vuela Visa cardmembers can now earn increased miles on grocery stores and gas stations purchases.

Airline Loyalty Programs During the Pandemic

Delta Air Lines

Delta was the first U.S. airline to announce the elite status extension for all members. The airline extended Medallion status through Jan. 31, 2022; plus, all Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) will roll over to 2021. Delta Sky Club memberships were extended by six months and Delta is giving extensions on Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates.

Those who love earning rewards with credit cards may love additional miles for purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets offered with the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian extended the status for all current elite members through February 2020. Also, elite qualification requirements for Pualani Gold and Pualani Platinum were reduced by 50% to qualify for 2021. Additionally, the airline won’t be expiring any miles through Dec. 31, 2020 and extended Premier Club membership and Neighbor Travel Plan packages by three months.

The cardmembers of the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard credit card can earn additional miles on gas, dining, and grocery store purchases. Plus, the airline extended credit card companion certificates that are set to expire before August 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.


JetBlue extended for TrueBlue members their Mosaic benefits through December 2021 regardless of how Mosaic elite status was earned. Plus, qualifications for membership have been reduced for 2020 by 50%. Mosaic can now be reached by earning 7,500 Mosaic qualifying points or earning 6,000 Mosaic qualifying points and 15 segments.

JetBlue Mastercard members can earn double points at restaurants and grocery stores. This offer is available on both cards: JetBlue Plus Card and JetBlue Card.


LATAM extended the validity of elite membership for all LATAM Pass elite members through March 2022. Arline also announced that it’s lowering elite status requirements by 30% for Qualifying Points and Qualifying Segments. Another change was made to already expired LATAM Pass points: all the points expired in March, April and May 2020 were extended by 90 days.

Unfortunately, LATAM Visa credit cards do not give additional points for purchases at supermarkets and restaurants, dining, or delivery services.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest extended elite status validity for all current A-List and A-List Preferred members through Dec. 31, 2021. The status of all Southwest Companion Pass members extended through June 30, 2021. Plus, the airline is making it easier for its members to earn elite status and Companion Pass benefits in 2020 by depositing qualifying points and qualifying segments into all Rapid Rewards accounts.

Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card will be able to earn additional tier qualifying points (TQPs) towards A-List status.

United Airlines

United was the second airline to announce the extension of elite status for all current Premier members. United MileagePlus changes will now allow MileagePlus members to retain their current Premier status through Jan. 31, 2022. The airline also reduced 2020 Premier status requirements for Premier qualifying points (PQP) and Premier qualifying flights (PQF) by 50%. All United annual subscription options, such as United Club membership, Wi-Fi and Economy Plus, were extended by six months for each customer.

Cardholders of United Explorer and United Club℠ cards now earn more PQPs on spending through 2020, so cardmembers could reach a higher status sooner. Plus, cards allow you to earn increased miles at restaurants and eligible delivery services including GrubHub, Caviar, Seamless, and DoorDash.

Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia Velocity members will have their current status extended and preserved. All Velocity Frequent Flyer Platinum, Gold, and Silver members will receive a 12-month extension to their benefit period from their review date. Platinum, Gold or Silver status members who downgraded between March 4, 2020 and March 29, 2020 had their previous status reinstated for further 12 months.

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