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Friday, April 10, 2020

Airline, Hotel loyalty programs that offer Coronavirus Benefits to Members

From extensions to Elite Status membership to more flexible reward options, the largest loyalty programs support valued customers


The situation with coronaviruses is changing rapidly, and frequent flyers and loyal members wonder how they can use their membership status and points or miles. Here's what you need to know about relief efforts from key programs.

While COVID-19 has affected all parts of everyday life, the travel industry has certainly been put on hold since people had to cancel plans and stay at home. Since most travelers plan many months in advance, there are also plenty of tickets left that they can no longer use. Frequent flyers and hotel loyalty members wonder what recourse they may have when it comes to their membership status and points or miles.

We examined key players in the hotel and aviation industry to find out how these companies wanted to welcome their valued members after the coronavirus pandemic - by adding points, status levels, and more.

Coronavirus relief efforts through loyalty program

  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • World of Hyatt
  • Wyndham rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards

Hilton Honours

In addition to donating up to a million rooms to healthcare professionals, Hilton has also promised to compensate members of the Hilton Honors loyalty program in a number of ways.

Status extension
Status acquired in 2019: All members of diamond, gold and silver status who had to be downgraded from March 2020 will receive an automatic status extension by March 31, 2021.
Status in 2020: All members of 2020 Diamond, Gold and Silver can continue to benefit from their benefits until March 21, 2022 (24 months).
Point extension
Items scheduled to expire by December 31, 2020 will be temporarily stopped. No points expire before this date.

Other rewards

Weekend Night Rewards for Eligible Hilton Credit Cards that have not expired by March 11, 2020 and all new rewards issued until August 30, 2020 are now valid until August 31, 2021.

To ensure member security, Hilton offers flexible cancellations and refunds for all Hilton Honors experiences booked through May 31, 2021.

Additional updates for Hilton Honors members can be found on the loyalty program website.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott plans to compensate its Marriott Bonvoy members, although benefits may vary based on member location. All updates will be completed by the end of April 2020.

See related: Marriott data breach affects 5.2 million hotel guests

Status extension

Bonvoy members who have achieved Elite status for 2020 can now benefit from their benefits by February 22nd.

Point extension

Points that are due to expire by February 2021 will be stopped and points will only expire after this period.

Other rewards

Active free night awards (as part of Marriott credit cards or packages) that expire on March 1, 2020 will be extended until January 31, 2021. Suite night awards that expire on December 31, 2020 will be extended for another year through December 31, 2021.

Stay on the company's COVID-19 website for assistance to Bonvoy members.

IHG Rewards Club

Due to travel restrictions and shortened travel times, the IHG reduced its requirements for membership in elite status by 25% or more and extended the points for all members (since the points of the elite members never expire).

Point extension

The points for all members that expire from April 1 to December 31, 2020 will be extended. No points expire until December 31, 2020.

Award certificates

Anniversary Night Certificates (U.S. and UK only) that expire before March 1, 2020 will be extended until the end of the year. All 2020 certificates can be redeemed for 18 months instead of the usual 12 months.

Track updates to IHG Rewards Club benefits on the program's Travel Advice page.

World of Hyatt

The World of Hyatt loyalty program extends all status and rewards to compensate valued members.

Status extension

All active Elite status as of March 31, 2020 will be extended until February 28, 2022.

Point extension
Expiry points due to inactivity will be suspended until December 31, 2020. No points expire until this date.

Other rewards
All earned rewards such as free nights or upgrades that expire between March 1 and December 31, 2020 will be extended until December 31, 2021.

Wyndham rewards
As of April 7, 2020, Wyndham pledged to extend points for all Wyndham Rewards members and reward member status only in Greater China and Southeast Asia. You will receive more detailed information about US reward members shortly.

Point extension
The points, which are due to expire on May 31, 2020, will be extended until the end of 2021.

Status extension

Reward status for members in Greater China and the southeast will be extended until the end of 2021. No changes have been announced for members in the United States, but a Wyndham statement affirmed that the chain "is committed to and actively investigates additional steps that we are undertaking to help all Wyndham Rewards members worldwide. These include loose earnings requirements at member level. "

United MileagePlus

United has announced that it will compensate its MileagePlus members by extending all annual membership, subscriptions and checked baggage benefits by six months. United also plans to simplify membership requirements and release information later in 2020.

Status extension

All MileagePlus Premier members will retain their 2020 status through January 31, 2022.

Lower status requirements

MileagePlus Premier membership now has simpler requirements that are reduced by 50% for each status level.

Cardholder benefits
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.

Other rewards
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 SkyMiles

Delta has stepped up to say they will compensate their Medallion members and that all updates would happen by the end of April 2020.

Status extension
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

No compensation details have been released yet concerning AAdvantage benefits.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest has not yet revealed if and how it will compensate Rapid Rewards members.

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.

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