As 2022 Approaches, Airlines and Hotels Extend Elite Status Once Again

By Kurt Stolz on 26 November 2021
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While the number of people flying and driving great distances hit a pandemic high over the Thanksgiving holiday, the travel industry isn’t seeing sustainable increases as the world heads into the final six weeks of the year.

Airlines and hotel chains are making note and taking steps to keep their best customers happy with yet another year of bestowed elite status, mirroring at least in part what happened at the end of 2020.

Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Marriott International have all extended the current elite status members of its loyalty programs have for another year, while putting the expiration of points on hold.

Delta Air Lines said it would extend elite status for members of its SkyMiles frequent-flyer program  and pool qualifying miles from the current year and 2022 together towards 2023 Medallion status, while United airlines is lowering flight and spending requirements for 2022 elite status and allowing members to earn miles towards status on its co-branded credit card provided the member will have taken four flights before the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, Hyatt Hotels is taking a harder stance. It recently wrote members of its guest-loyalty program advising that it will enforce the two-year expiration deadline on points expiration.  The two-year period more or less coincides with the duration of the pandemic thus far so World of Hyatt members who haven’t travelled will see their balances disappear unless they buy additional points or stay overnight at a Hyatt in the current year. [Editor’s note: The minimum purchase, 1,000 points, costs $24 and is a small investment to make in order to maintain one’s point balance.]

Finally, American Airlines is completely revamping its AAdvantage frequent-flyer program, changing how elite status will be earned starting in 2022.

In an acknowledgement that its system of Elite Qualifying Miles, Elite Qualifying Points, and Elite Qualifying Segments had become too complicated, the airline is replacing those three metrics with Loyalty Points.

“We’re thrilled to introduce updates to the Aadvantage program that will make it simpler for you to earn status,” said Alison Taylor, the airline’s chief customer officer, in a note to members.

The new concept will launch in March 2022.  Going forward, members will qualify for status from March through February instead of based on flying during the calendar year.  Every mile flown and every dollar spent on a co-branded credit card will count for one Loyalty Point and AAdvantage members will need 30,000 of them to attain the Gold status, the first of several elite tiers.

Current elite status valid through January 31, 2022 will be extended to March 31, 2022 to accommodate the launch of the new system.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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