Many airlines have sent messages to their frequent flier program members about status extensions, qualification waivers, and extended qualification period.
WestJet Rewards, however, is doing something different and is upping member statuses that were on track to qualify for status before coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started to ground travel. The airline is in the process of suspending all international flying for 30 days and will cut domestic schedule by 50%.
You can access WestJet here.
Here an email that a reader forwarded to us:
Here’s WestJet’s announcement about suspended flights:
Today, Prime Minister Trudeau made an explicit declaration to all Canadians abroad that it is time to come home. Based on this statement and the recommendations to Canadians to control the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, we have made impactful decisions related to our operations.
On Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, we will suspend scheduled commercial operations for all international and transborder flights for a 30 day period. To be clear, this means our final commercially scheduled flights from international and transborder destinations will launch on Sunday night by 11:59 p.m. local time; after that, we will be operating rescue and repatriation flights in partnership with the Canadian government. As of tonight, international and transborder tickets are no longer available for sale during this 30 day period.
On Wednesday, March 18 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, WestJet will suspend all outbound international ticket sales for travel until Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, so we are no longer sending Canadians out of the country and can instead focus on bringing them home.
To assist Canadians in returning home on short notice, we are in the process of lowering prices on our remaining seats into Canada in all cabins.
In addition, we will also reduce our domestic schedule by approximately 50 per cent. At this point, all network changes are in place for the next 30 days.
WestJetters are known for our level of care and this situation is no different. While this is a difficult time, we now have the responsibility as a Canadian airline to bring our citizens home.
-Statement from Ed Sims, WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer
Other airlines and hotel loyalty programs could come up with something similar to reward members that were on track to qualify before most of the travel was grounded.
WestJet here creates goodwill that members keep in their mind when travel picks up (eventually it will) and then hopefully start booking flights on the airline to enjoy benefits.
The suspension of international flights and trimming domestic schedule by 50% is similar to what airlines in Europe have already done.