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Are other airlines going to follow Deltas’ example regarding loyalty program extensions? They must!

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Delta ad some sigh of relief news for loyal members today: All elite statuses and benefits will be extended for one year, whether or not you meet the requirements during this calendar year.

As a general rule, the benefits of one calendar year are granted on a continuous basis and expire at the end of the following year. So, for example, if you got gold status by flying a lot in 2019, you would have this status for the whole of 2020. In 2021, your status would depend on the amount of flights you make in 2020.

What worried a lot of members – not just Delta, but airlines around the world – was how things were going to go this year. Those who flew a lot in 2019 and who obtained status for 2020, for example, are somehow stuck thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are they unable to take advantage of the benefits they have earned (seat selection, bonus miles, upgrades, etc.) here and now in 2020, but they are also unable to accumulate flight miles to ensure that their status continues in 2021.

Until today, no airline based in the United States had made any kind of announcement regarding loyalty programs, but with Delta now coming out and announcing the extension, it is hard to believe that the others big players – American, united – will be far behind. After all, it would be a really bad see if they decide not to expand their programs as well, leaving their loyal customers hanging around.

For the Deltas part, they certainly came to the table with their members in mind. Not only will they have extended the statuses relative to their loyalty levels (silver, gold, platinum, etc.) for another year, but they will also recover the number of miles you accumulate this year and apply them to your account for the ‘next year. All the miles you fly in 2020 will be transferred until 2021 and will be applied to obtain a status for 2022. In other words, you have two years of flight (2020 and 2021) to determine what status you will have in 2022.

Delta too has extended the benefits for its Skyclub credit and access card membersand put the icing on the cake by adding an additional six months to the expiration date of any free drink coupon you may have.

In an email to Skymiles members that kept giving, CEO Ed Bastian announced that the airline, in response to customer feedback, would be even more flexible on flight planning and route changes in the future.

We have heard your comments that you want your ticket value to be secure and redeemable for a longer period of time, so we have expanded ability to plan, book and travel for up to two years, wrote Bastian. Weve waived modification fees for your trips until May 31, 2022 if you have booked a trip in April or May to April 3, 2020, or canceled a trip / Flight eCredits in March, April or May 2020. You can also change the new tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020, no modification fees up to one year from the date of purchase.

Given everything that was going on in the travel industry, it certainly sounds like a good day to be a Delta pilot. Will other American airlines follow suit? They seem to have to, lest they want their members to go to Delta.

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