United Airlines sent out an email late Saturday (US time) for MileagePlus elite members telling them that there are no waivers, at least not for now, in 2020 due to the current coronavirus outbreak.
Many businesses have significantly curtailed travel, and conferences and events have been canceled or made virtual. United has also trimmed its flight activity by 10% to 20% due to a lack of bookings.
You can access United here.
Here’s the email:
And here’s the most relevant part:
At this time, we are not planning any changes for our 2021 Premier program but we will continue to evaluate our options as we learn more about how the current climate is affecting members’ activity. In the interim though, we do plan to give members who are participating in a MileagePlus 2020 Premier Status Match Challenge promotion an additional 30 days to complete their challenge. This extension will automatically be reflected in member accounts within the next week.
Here are hotel status extensions and waivers:
My hunch is that United needs to backtrack on this decision if they want to keep the current number of elites engaged with the program, including members at destinations the airline has temporarily stopped serving. And this not only applies to United.
Hotel loyalty programs quickly introduced waivers and status extensions for members in Greater China/Asia (read more here). I would imagine that they need to do something for the rest of the world too.
Once this coronavirus outbreak is over (hopefully in a couple of months), we should then have better clarity of the offers that airline and loyalty programs will offer to get elite members traveling again.