Airlines around the world are addressing the current flying environment, or lack of flying. Trying to keep their customer bases happy many airlines are already reaching out to frequent flyers and extending elite status. Qantas was among the first major airlines to announce that elite status would be extended for one year, no questions ask. Many other foreign airlines followed and then Delta extended elite status and introduced rollover MQMs. Quickly after Delta’s announcement, United and Alaska followed. Southwest and American Airlines elite status extension have yet to be announced.
As people sit around at home with extra time on their hands, they have more time to think about things than ever before. Work is likely slower, kids are home from school, and nearly every business is closed. People are going stir crazy and those who are used to travel, want to travel. As we sit at home, this gives us free time to fret about what will life be like once we are no longer social distancing.
Elite Status Extension
Road warriors love their elite status. Free upgrades, checked bags, priority boarding, premium seats, and complimentary alcohol are just a few perks. Same day flight change and free cancelations with no fees are among my favorite elite perks and why I stay loyal to Alaska.
Some airlines have announced elite status extensions, others have not. Why? It’s not that simple. At this very moment we do not know when the world will return to normal. States and countries around the world have different guidelines in place. In the USA alone the Federal Government has extended social distancing through April 30. Yet, Washington State’s guidelines are through May 4th while Virginia is under lockdown until June 10th.
We love our loyal flyers, too! Any updates to this will be published on the following link: https://t.co/3Mhe9FtTe6
— americanair (@AmericanAir) April 8, 2020
Worldwide, the outlook is also a jigsaw puzzle. China is reopening airspace, but Japan is blocking foreign visitors from most countries. Hong Kong is blocking transit of foreigners. Countries across the world are responding differently. Some are on complete lockdown mode while others are limiting flights with no end date in site. This puts many airlines in very difficult situations.
Airlines are planning for the future, without knowing what the future flying environment will behold. Some airlines have already cut capacity by over 80%. American Airlines suspended 25 long-haul flights for the rest of 2020. Until airlines get a grip on this crisis, get costs under control, and have a plan for the future, elite status extension should not be their number one focus. As an offer that looks great on paper today, may be useless tomorrow.
Wait For A Program Announcement
American Airlines will not leave their frequent flyers hanging. There is not a single company that realizes that we’re living in uncertain times. As we haven’t seen the complete peak of wave 1, there is still a fear of wave 2. Will life be “normal” again this summer? No one has a crystal ball, only data models.
Meanwhile, airlines need to care for their employees now and work with regulators to get planes back in the air when it’s safe to travel. Once they can figure out when business and leisure travelers can actually fly again, then they should address elite status extension etc. A blanket extension will not be any good if people still are not flying in 2021. Furthermore, airlines need to examine who is flying today in order to reward those people who have stayed loyal during these difficult times. Unfortunately, not everyone can stay home.
Hey, Jessica. We’re sorry to hear of your letdown. Please know that we’re taking a look at our options right now for earning and maintaining the perks of loyalty to our Rapid Rewards program. We don’t have an answer just yet, so we appreciate your patience. Thank you! -Adam
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) April 8, 2020
I agree, we all want to know what American and Southwest will do to keep frequent flyers loyal. Yet, I would rather have a well thought out plan than a direct copy of other programs. Maybe there will be targeted bonus for those who get back to work and fly earlier than others. A reduction in the number of miles or points needed to retain or gain status once things return to “normal” is another option. Let things calm down, and then address the elephant in the room. I honestly believe that Southwest and American Airlines are being smart by waiting. Why jump the gun? After-all, the 2021 is still 8 months away! A lot can change between now and 2021.