Two more airlines announced elite status extensions this week, waiving the qualification requirements for the 2020 calendar year. Air Canada‘s Altitude and Alaska Airlines‘ MileagePlan members have another year at their existing tier without any additional flying required. And, similar to the moves announced by Delta and United over the weekend, there are a couple unique quirks from each program in how it will work.
Loyalty is a two-way street – certainly in good times, but especially so in hard times. Altitude members have shown outstanding commitment to Air Canada, and to provide some certainty during these uncertain times, we are extending members’ current Altitude status to the end of 2021.– Mark Nasr, Vice President, Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada
Air Canada extends to family & friends
All Air Canada Altitude program status for 2020 will automatically be extended through to the end of 2021. While that could be seen by some members as an opportunity to “shop around” if travel returns later this year the carrier has a plan to discourage such dalliances. Members that requalify in 2020 can gift whatever status tier they reach to a family member or friend. In this way even flying a limited portion of that member’s normal volume with Air Canada delivers extra value. And, as a bonus, the newly minted elite member is also more likely to shift spend to Air Canada in 2021. This is a smart promotion looking to the future.
Air Canada is also waiving all cancellation fees on existing awards through 30 April 2020, giving members an opportunity to unwind existing plans without penalty, regardless of the booked travel dates.
Regarding the mileage expiration policy, the Aeroplan program is suspending such efforts through 14 May 2020 to give members an opportunity to conduct an eligible transaction. But unlike many other programs the company is not extending the expiry outright. This creates the potential for those suspended expirations to kick in on 15 May which is probably less time to sort things out than most members would appreciate.
Alaska Airlines eases the challenge
Extending existing status through 2021 is table stakes at this point and Alaska Airlines met that with no problem. One limitation, however, is that the program’s top tier members will not receive their 50k bonus points along the way. The company plans to adjust how those are earned, but it will not adjust the earnings levels for members without status today. The carrier was the first in the Americas to launch a bonus elite points earning scheme and might extend it again.
The company is also planning a rollover, similar to Delta’s, but not quite as extensive. Any EQMs earned before the end of April 2020 will count towards earning in 2020 and also in 2021. Delta’s version will roll over all elite points from 2020.
Finally, for members that started a status match challenge in the past four months the carrier isn’t going to worry about whether the thresholds were reached or not. Anyone with a pending challenge is considered to have completed it and the status will be valid through 2021, just like all other elites. This is a reasonably large give from the program but also a smart one. Pushing away a customer that was trying to bring more business to the carrier would be a terrible mistake at this point.
For a (generally) up-to-date listing of airlines and their operational levels check out this spreadsheet maintained by PaxEx.Aero and other industry experts.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
- Alaska Airlines offers elite bonus earning in face of COVID-19 booking weakness
- Massive cuts, uncertain recovery timelines for aviation in the face of COVID-19
- Qantas cuts international 25% through September facing coronavirus-induced demand drop
- Spirit Airlines plans 5% growth reduction for April as COVID-19 hurts demand
- American Airlines slashes schedule, increases flexibility for customer rebookings
- US to block some European visitors
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- Regulators suspend slot rules, opening door to deeper airline cuts
- Beyond route cuts, airlines initiate extended suspension of operations
- Gogo looks to ride out coronavirus-related dip in demand
- Trans States Airlines: The first US airline victim of COVID-19
- JetBlue removes 40% of capacity, delays new deliveries as demand drops
- Airlines get a break on coronavirus EC261 comp, looking for more
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- Qatar Airways plans 75% capacity cut in response to COVID-19
- Emirates, Turkish Airlines slash route networks, ground aircraft
- JetBlue plans additional draw down in service
- Is it time for US airports to start closing terminals??
- Converting to cargo: Putting passenger planes to use in the COVID-19 era
- IATA anticipates recession, slower recovery, as COVID-19 impact drag on
- US carriers cut frequencies, not destinations as they seek federal funding
- JetBlue plans 70%+ cut in April operations
- Cancelled flights, vouchers and the airline cash flow crunch
- Spirit Airlines reportedly cutting 90% of flights
- US airlines cut deep, but not deep enough
- An eerie quiet over New York City: The flights are gone
- Who wants what? How the US airlines are responding with CARES Act funding on the line
- Delta, United extend elite status by a year, adjust other benefits
- DOT adjusts, finalizes airline route requirements for CARES Act funding.
- Lufthansa announces major, permanent fleet restructuring
- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines extend elite status
- Deeper cuts, reprotect options coming for JetBlue
- Air Canada replaces seats with cargo in 777-300ER cabin
- American Airlines extends status, eases qualification
- A new take on amenity kits in the COVID-19 era
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 1
- Stuck in the past, DOT botches its CARES Act implementation
- DOT grants exemptions to Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines under CARES Act obligations
- Introducing yin-yang seating for economy class
- Inflight social distancing will kill short-haul LCC travel: IATA
- Gogo furloughs 60% of workforce, applies for CARES Act support
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 2
- De Havilland, Air Canada Cargo partner on Dash 8-400 cargo conversion
- JetBlue plans new route network for CARES Act compliance
- Spirit Airlines running triangle routes to meet CARES Act requirements
- Sun Country wins big as United, Frontier lose in latest CARES Act ruling
- Frontier Airlines pushes new route plan for CARES Act compliance
- Argentina plans to restart flights in September 2020
- Spirit Airlines asks DOT again to drop destinations
- Delta Flight Products, TechOps develop isolation pod for COVID-19 military transport
- JetBlue aims to drop 16 "major hub" destinations from its network
- Allegiant scores leniency from DOT in CARES Act obligations
- Panasonic Avionics implements furloughs to address slowing business
- American, Delta confirm accelerated fleet retirements
- Airbus aims to ease "COVID Combi" temporary freighter conversions
- The Weekly Wrap: FlightPlan, personal screening and more!
- United’s long-haul operations focus on a new "workhorse"
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- JetBlue, Spirit score exemptions to drop service at major US airports
- IATA recommends against blocked middle seats, favors "layered" protections
- United plans to resume (cargo for now) Hong Kong-Singapore service
- JetBlue suspends six cities through June
- Project Wingman USA Opens Lounges for Frontline Healthcare Heroes at Two Major New York City Hospitals
- Cape Air’s ugly April stats (and some possible good news for May)
- Fighting for the middle: A pandemic seating shift
- Avianca declares bankruptcy, seeks protection in restructuring
- United raises ire in cutting hours for salaried employees
- DOT further relaxes airline CARES Act obligations
- Allegiant sees quick recovery on the horizon
- Delta drops 777 fleet as coronavirus cuts continue
- JetBlue offers free TrueBlue Mosaic status, plus a year extension
- United faces lawsuit over M&A employees pay cut
- Optimism on the horizon: The Weekly Wrap 15 May 2020
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- JetBlue plans return of international markets in June