Airline, Hotel & Car Rental Elite Status Extensions into 2023
Most of the major airlines, hotel chains, and car rental companies have made changes to their loyalty programs because of the pandemic. Really they had little choice. Why? The number of people traveling has been decimated, and the travel industry knew they had to make major adjustments to keep their most loyal customers.
So what's been happening with elite status? Major airlines, hotel chains, and car rental companies announced status extensions in 2020, and then again in 2021, and some also reduced qualification requirements to achieve status.
With travel still not back to pre-pandemic levels, quite a few travel companies are now extending elite status into 2023! Who would ever have thought we'd be in this situation?!
Without further ado, here’s a complete summary of all the changes to the most popular loyalty programs that have been announced so far...
Air Canada's loyalty program is called Aeroplan, and the company has announced extended elite status for ALL members through the end of 2022. This means anyone with Air Canada elite status in 2021 will continue to enjoy benefits even if they haven’t re-earned their current status tier this year. The extension is automatic and there is no need to apply for it.
Additionally, program members who qualify for ANY elite status tier in 2021 through flying will have their Status Qualifying Miles (SQM), Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) and Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) rolled over into 2022. This applies to any member who qualifies for Aeroplan 25K status or higher in 2021, which requires a minimum of 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS and $3,000 SQD ($1,500 for non-Canadian residents in 2021). Those who earn status through credit card spending will not have these metrics rolled over.
As an example, an Aeroplan Super Elite member who earns 28,000 SQM, 13 SQS and $5,000 SQD in 2021 will start 2022 with Super Elite status and the same number of SQM, SQS and SQD in their account. This means it's far easier for Aeroplan elites to maintain or upgrade their status in 2022 (for the 2023 status year) without worrying about losing their current status tier if they don’t fly as much in 2022.
Air Canada has also promised to extend the expiration date of eUpgrade credits by two weeks, from Dec. 31, 2021, to Jan. 15, 2022. These extensions will be shown in member accounts by the end of November. It’s also worth noting that Aeroplan members will only receive a physical membership kit (the one that's mailed out to the member with luggage tags, etc) if they achieved a higher level of elite status in 2021.
On the downside, Air Canada have doubled the SQD requirement for travelers outside of Canada in 2022, bringing it in line with SQD requirements for Canadian members. Previously, international members could achieve status with lower requirements than Canadian members.
Pre-pandemic, Alaska normally had two ways that members could reach MVP elite status: Flying Alaska-operated flights (with lower qualification thresholds) or taking a combination of Alaska- and partner-operated flights (with higher thresholds).
However, for 2021, Alaska lowered the qualification thresholds for ALL members.
- MVP: 20,000 elite-qualifying miles or 30 segments
- MVP Gold: 40,000 elite-qualifying miles or 60 segments
- MVP Gold 75K: 75,000 elite-qualifying miles or 90 segments
- MVP Gold 100K: 100,000 elite-qualifying miles or 140 segments (this is a new top-tier status level)
The most important aspect to remember is that you must fly a minimum number of Alaska Airlines segments (individual flights) to earn or retain status: 2 for MVP, 4 for MVP Gold, 6 for MVP Gold 75K and 24 for MVP Gold 100K.
Alaska has a promotion in place currently that allows a fast track to status that grants 50% bonus elite qualifying miles on all Alaska-operated flights through the end of 2021. No registration is required to participate in the promo, but note that it does NOT include partner flights, even if they’re booked on an Alaska ticket.
Alaska Airlines has also said that it will still extend elite status for those who don’t requalify naturally in 2021. Whatever status you achieved in 2020 will be extended through April 30, 2022, with an opportunity to requalify by flying a minimum number of miles from Jan. 2022 – April 2022. Details are still to be announced.
For holders of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card, Alaska is allowing account holders to earn up to 20,000 elite-qualifying miles, with 2,500 elite qualifying miles awarded for every $2,500 spent on purchases, up to a limit of 20,000 EQMs. This promo until Nov. 15, 2021.
In 2021, AAdvantage elite status qualification thresholds for American have been reduced at every level. Also, any status earned in 2021 will automatically be extended through March 31, 2023.
The airline is also reducing the number of elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) required to gain status, by 20%. Elite-qualifying segments (EQSs) and elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) are lowered by 20% to 33%. The new requirements are:
- Gold: 20,000 EQMs or 20 EQSs plus $2,000 EQDs
- Platinum: 40,000 EQMs or 45 EQSs, plus $4,500 EQDs
- Platinum Pro: 60,000 EQMs or 70 EQSs, plus $7,000 EQDs
- Executive Platinum: 80,000 EQMs or 95 EQSs, plus $12,000 EQDs
There’s also a new way to bypass the EQD requirements (aka the spend requirement). If you own one of the cobranded Aadvantage credit cards, you can waive the EQD requirement up to Platinum Pro status by spending $30,000 during the calendar year.
American is also providing additional opportunities to earn bonus EQMs and EQDs, as follows:
- Every AAdvantage member was granted bonus EQMs on their first 10 segments flown between June 3 and Aug. 31, 2021.
- All current elites were given a one-time EQD boost, based on their elite status, ranging from $500 bonus EQDs for Gold members to $3,000 EQDs for Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members.
- Current elites can also purchase a package of EQMs for $495, which will earn them $495 EQDs, as well as the following number of EQMs as a bonus:
- Gold members will get 2,500 EQMs
- Platinum members will get 5,000 EQMs
- Platinum Pro members will get 7,500 EQMs
- Executive Platinum and invite-only Concierge Key members will get 10,000 EQMs
American Airlines is also extending the status of members who earn $2,000 elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021 on American or any of its OneWorld partner airlines. This fast-track opportunity is specifically for those who held status on Jan. 1, 2021, but not anyone who is currently enrolled in a status challenge.
On Jan. 31, 2021, Avianca LifeMiles changed their program from distance-based mileage earning, to revenue-based mileage earning. This change affects how members earn both redeemable miles and elite-qualifying miles. Now, you will earn 5 qualifying points for every dollar you spend on a flight, meaning it's no longer possible to achieve status fast by booking inexpensive, long-haul flights.
On the positive side, Avianca lowered elite status requirements for 2021, with up to a 40% reduction on elite status requirements, (the highest reductions are offered on the Gold and Diamond status tiers).
- Red Plus: 8,250 qualifying miles (usually 11,000)
- Silver: 11,200 qualifying miles (usually 16,000)
- Gold: 18,850 qualifying miles (usually 29,000)
- Diamond: 28,800 qualifying miles (usually 48,000)
You must still earn 80% of your qualifying miles on Avianca-operated flights to qualify for status. The balance can be earned on any Star Alliance partner airline.
Earlier in 2021, Avis announced that they will be extending anyone with Preferred Plus status or above for another year through January 15, 2022, regardless of their 2020 rental activity. Another announcement is expected within the next few months.
This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. British Airways held out for quite a while in extending status, and even then they only did it for some members. The most recent announcement from the airline said they have extended Executive Club status for another year for members with a tier point collection end date between January and March 2022. Unlike most airlines who use the calendar from January to December to determine status, British Airways uses the date you signed up for the program as your starting date, so every member has a different earning period.
In addition, the airline has granted a 25% reduction in tier status requirements, which applies until June 2022.
British Airways is also adding an additional 6 months extension to all new Companion Voucher or Travel Together tickets earned between June 2020 and the end of December 2021.
The reduced amount of Tier Points needed to reach each Tier is now:
- Bronze: 225 Tier Points or 18 eligible flights
- Silver: 450 Tier Points or 37 eligible flights
- Gold: 1125 Tier Points
In 2021 Choice Hotels reduced requirements for elite status qualification. Status earned this year is valid through the end of 2022.
The requirements to gain each status level are:
- Gold status: Earned after staying seven nights as opposed to 10
- Platinum status: Earned after staying 15 nights as opposed to 20
- Diamond status: Earned after staying 25 nights as opposed to 40
Delta was the first airline to extend elite status due to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, and they did the same in 2021.
The airline also made it easier to qualify for higher status and it's even granting extra perks for those members who still qualify for status as they would have pre-pandemic. For example, starting Feb. 1, 2022, passengers who EARNED their status in 2021 (rather than just being a recipient of the extension) will clear for complimentary upgrades ahead of those at the same tier level who did not earn their status in 2021.
Delta is acting a little differently to most other major airlines. They're offering a fast-track offer in preference to just reducing the status requirements. So, from April 1st through the end of 2021, Delta SkyMiles members will earn up to 75% more elite-qualifying credit on flights marketed and operated by Delta, including award travel.
Here’s how the bonuses will be granted:
- 50% boost: All basic economy and main cabin tickets will earn an additional 50% Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
- 75% boost: Premium-cabin tickets including Delta One, Delta Premium Select, domestic first-class and Delta Comfort+ tickets, including those upgraded after purchase will qualify for the 75% bonus.
Additionally, through the end of Dec. 31, 2022, travelers will earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) on award tickets. Yes, you read that right! This is the first time any U.S. airline loyalty program has included award tickets for earning elite-qualifying credit, and it also includes Miles + Cash redemptions (part payment with miles and part payment with money).
But wait, there's more! Delta has said they will also roll over into 2022 ALL Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) earned in 2021 PLUS those that were already rolled over from 2020. That means, if you took any Delta flights in 2020 or 2021, all those flights will count towards you earning status in 2022. Pretty nifty, right?
Unusually, Emirates hasn’t reduced the qualification thresholds, but they are running a promotion to help Skywards members fast-track to higher tier status. Members will automatically earn 2x tier miles on all Emirates and Flydubai flights that were booked between April 1 to July 31, 2021, for travel between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2021.
Remember that award tickets won't earn any tier miles. Emirates may still announce further updates and changes to their program, but this is the current situation at the time of writing in November 2021.
Hawaiian slashed the elite qualification requirements by 50% for their Pualani program to achieve status for 2022. Plus, generously passengers who achieve Pualani Platinum status at the reduced elite qualifications will still be granted two Platinum upgrade certificates. The revised qualification requirements are now:
- Pualani Gold status: 15 segments or 10,000 miles
- Pualani Platinum status: 30 segments or 20,000 miles
At this point, there’s no announcement about whether Hawaiian will extend the reduced requirements into 2022 for earning status next year.
Hertz has extended the status for elites, and also reduced qualification requirements for new elite members. In 2021, its possible to earn elite status by meeting the following requirements:
- Five Star = 10 rentals (previously 12 rentals or $2,000 spent)
- President’s Circle = 15 rentals (previously 20 rentals or $4,000 spent)
Hilton has extended elite status for members through the end of March 2023. In addition, they had reduced 2021 qualification requirements by 50%, including stays, nights and base points.
The current requirements to earn status are:
- Silver: 2 stays, 5 nights, or 12,500 base points
- Gold: 10 stays, 20 nights or 37,500 base points
- Diamond: 15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points
In addition, Hilton has already announced that they will continue to offer reduced qualification requirements for members in 2022, as follows:
- Silver status after 7 nights, 3 stays or 17,500 base points
- Gold status after 28 nights, 14 stays or 52,500 base points
- Diamond status after 42 nights, 21 stays or 84,000 base points
In addition to reducing status earning requirements, Hilton automatically rolled over all members elite-qualifying nights from 2020 to 2021, to allow you to get a head start on qualification based on stays during 2021, for 2022
Lastly, all nights earned in 2021 will be automatically counted toward 2022 status qualifications.
It's also possible to achieve Hilton Honors elite status by owning a cobranded Hilton card.
Hyatt also announced it would reduce elite status requirements by 50% for the 2021 qualification year.
Additionally, any status earned in 2021 will be valid all the way through Feb. 28, 2023!
Currently, you can earn status in the following ways:
- Discoverist: Stay 5 tier-qualifying nights or earn 12,500 points ($2,500 spend)
- Explorist: Stay 15 tier-qualifying nights or earn 25,000 points ($5,000 spend)
- Globalist: Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights or earn 50,000 points ($10,000 spend)
If you own a cobranded Hyatt credit card, the requirements are further reduced. Holders of the World of Hyatt Credit Card will get 5 qualifying nights each year, and remember that all cardholders get 2 x elite-qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card.
Existing members of IHG Rewards have had their status automatically extended through February 2023. For those without status, IHG has reduced the requirements for 2021 by 25%.
The current status requirements are:
- Gold Elite: 7,000 qualifying points or 7 nights
- Platinum Elite: 30,000 qualifying points or 30 nights
- Spire Elite: 55,000 qualifying points or 55 nights
In addition, all qualifying nights earned by elite members in 2020 will be rolled over to 2021.
At the end of 2020, JetBlue announced some major changes to its Mosaic elite status program. In addition to extending status for current elites, they made it easier to earn Mosaic status in 2021. They reduced thresholds, and introduced a new way to qualify.
You can earn Mosaic status in 2021 (for 2022) in the following 5 ways:
- 7,500 Mosaic Qualifying points (usually 15,000 points)
- 6,000 Mosaic Qualifying points + 15 segments (usually 12,000 points and 30 segments)
- $50,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card during the calendar year (as before)
- $30,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card + 4,000 Mosaic Qualifying points during the calendar year
- $15,000 spent on purchases with your JetBlue Plus Card between 10/1/2021 and 12/31/2021
If you happen to exceed the qualification thresholds during 2021, you’ll be given extra bonuses and perks, including 10,000 bonus points after 10,000 Mosaic Qualifying points, the opportunity to gift Mosaic status after 20,000 Mosaic Qualifying points, and a free round-trip coach flight after 30,000 Mosaic Qualifying points. Those are some great perks.
In addition, base points and flight segments earned on JetBlue Vacations packages and standalone hotels and activity through their Paisley by JetBlue travel platform now count toward Mosaic status. Travelers will earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked as a part of a package and 1 point per dollar on hotels, cars and transfers booked as part of a package and hotels and activities booked through Paisley.
Lufthansa Miles and More
As with the other airlines, Lufthansa has made it easier to earn status in 2021. Members will earn double status miles on all flights operated by Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings. Additionally, members will automatically earn double miles in business and first-class.
In addition, the airlines has extended status for all current elites, and exact details are yet to be announced.
Marriott announced that they're extending the elite status of all Bonvoy members through February 2023. in addition, there's a reduction in the $20,000 spend threshold for attaining Ambassador Elite status by 30% for 2021.
For current Bonvoy elites who want to ascend up the membership tiers faster, Marriott has given everyone 50% of the elite nights they needed to qualify for elite status held in 2020.
Southwest has given all Rapid Rewards members a head-start towards the valuable Companion Pass benefit and A-List elite status.
All members were given 15,000 tier qualifying points (TQPs), 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points (CPQPs), 10 qualifying one-way flight segments towards tier status and 25 qualifying one-way flights towards Companion Pass.
After the boost, the requirements to qualify for status in 2021 for 2022, are:
- A-List Status: 20,000 points or 15 flights
- A-List Preferred Status: 55,000 points or 40 flights
- Companion Pass: 100,000 points or 75 flights
Southwest is also making it easier to qualify for status by offering 2x tier-qualifying points (TQPs) through a limited-time promotion.
Co-branded Southwest credit card holders can also earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 spent using their card from the first day of the billing cycle ending in January 2021 through the last statement of December 2021. There's no upper limit on this offer, so it's possible to spend your way to elite status without any flying! Bizarre, but very useful for a certain type of traveler who prefers to stay at home right now.
United has chosen to reduce the elite earning requirements rather than extend elite status. Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) requirements were reduced by around 25% during 2021.
Members earn one PQP for each eligible dollar spent on tickets issued by United OR based on distance and fare class for tickets issued by partners. Makes it a bit complicated to work out earnings, admittedly. Travelers will also earn one PQF for each eligible flight segment flown.
Currently, this means you can earn status in 2021 for 2022 in the following ways:
- Silver: 3,000 PQPs/8 PQFs or 3,500 PQPs
- Gold: 6,000 PQPs/16 PQFs or 7,000 PQPs
- Platinum: 9,000 PQPs/24 PQFs or 10,000 PQPs
- Premier 1K: 13,500 PQPs/36 PQFs or 15,000 PQPs
In addition to the reduced requirements, anyone who held elite status in 2020 was automatically gifted 25% of the PQP-only requirement for 2021 as a boost to further reduce the earning requirement. Silver members were given 875 PQPs, Gold 1,750, Platinum 2,500 and Premier 1K 3,750. Remember that United requires that ALL elites fly a minimum of four segments (individual flights) on United or United Express to qualify for status, so it's not possible to achieve status purely on partner airlines in the Star Alliance.
Holders of co-branded United credit cards can also earn PQPs. This includes the United Explorer Card and the United Club Infinite Card.
Another airline that kept announcing gradual extensions of elite status was Virgin. They were probably just keeping in line with British Airways similar announcements.. This also applies to companion vouchers. Gold and Silver elite members had their status extended by an additional six months, and they will have an additional 3 months to requalify for status.
Virgin have announced that from April next year it will take 300 Tier Points instead of 400 to upgrade from Red to Silver status. You could earn those with three return flights in Economy. Or, with two Upper-Class flights you could get to Gold status for 800 points instead of the regular requirement of 1000. The reduction will remain in place for one year, from 1st April 2022.
Not the most generous announcement from Virgin, I expected more from them to keep in line with the American carriers.
Wyndham Rewards reduced their elite status qualifications in 2021 by 40%. This means in 2021, the status levels can be achieved in the following ways:
- Gold: 3 nights
- Platinum: 9 nights
- Diamond: 24 nights
Note that Wyndham Diamond status members can status match to Diamond status with Caesars Rewards for Caesars group hotels (there's 10 in Vegas alone). There are some really great benefits, including reduced hotel rates, no resort fees on all stays, complimentary valet and self-parking, a $100 annual gift certificate for dinner at Caesars-owned restaurants, and 2 show tickets each month at Caesars properties in Las Vegas.
Summary of Elite Status Extensions
How times change! Before the pandemic, the airlines, hotels and car rental companies tended to act a bit arrogantly about loyalty. At the end of 2019 for example, United Airlines made radical adjustments to their loyalty program to make it MUCH harder to achieve status. Other travel companies were in the process of taking similar action. But the covid-19 pandemic came along and they had to not only put the brakes on the changes, but in many cases make radical reversals.
Even so, while some programs have been very generous in extending status and reducing status requirements, apparently not all programs are focused on keeping their members. It's shocking how little some have adjusted, especially the British-based carriers. This is a time when loyalty can easily be stolen by the most generous companies.
In the lead-up to the new year, it's entirely possible that more changes will be announced, and then further changes will likely happen during 2022, depending on how things play out with the recovery from the pandemic. No one thought it would last this long, but here we are. It's a whole new world, and it's calling for radical adjustments by everyone. Travel safely!