Delta leads the way in extending elite status - United copies hours later

Delta Airlines announced this morning that will be automatically extending current 2020 Medallion elite status holders through January 31, 2022, whether they re-qualify or not.  Within hours, United essentially copied Delta, suggesting that United already had elite status extension in the works and was just waiting to see any other carriers jumped on first.

Delta's announcement includes the following:

Medallion Members:
  • A full-year extension will be added to your current Medallion Status through January 31, 2022, with Diamond and Platinum Medallion Members being able to select Choice Benefits in 2021 as part of the extension.
  • Rollover for all 2020 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) earned on flight spend or your eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Card. All 2020 MQMs will be rolled over to 2021 for qualification towards 2022 Medallion Status will be implemented.
  • All unused Medallion drink vouchers will be extended six months from their expiration date.
Sky Club Memberships: 
  • Delta Sky Club Individual and Executive Memberships with an expiration of March 1, 2020, or later will receive six additional months of Club access beyond their expiration date.
SkyMiles American Express Cardholders:
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold Card Members who have earned a $100 Delta Flight Credit will get a six-month extension beyond their current expiration date.
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Reserve Card Members with Companion Certificates with an original expiration date between March 1 and June 30, 2020, can use them to book and fly by December 31, 2020. Certificates that expire between July 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, will receive an additional six months after the current expiration date.
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card Members will also get a six-month extension to use their Delta Sky Club One-Time Guest Passes beyond their current expiration date.
SkyMiles Members:
  • A six-month extension on eligible Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates and $200 Delta Travel Vouchers selected as Choice Benefits.
  • SkyMiles Select Members will receive a six-month extension to the Priority Boarding benefit and any unused drink vouchers.
Delta Sky Club membership will be automatically extended for 6 months

United Airlines

United's extension is nearly identical:

  • Current status will last through the 2021 status year (expiring January 31, 2022)
  • There will be lower elite qualifying thresholds next year (TBA)
  • United is also extending annual subscriptions by 6 months for in-flight WiFi, checked bags, United Club memberships and EconomyPlus
Economy Plus membership will be extended for 6 months

Where Delta does exceed though is in rolling over 2020 MQMs into 2021.  It remains to be seen what the lower qualification thresholds will be next year for, but United will unlikely be able to maintain their "cash is king" elite qualification points system that they had originally adopted for this year.

Bottom line

It's great to see both these carriers automatically extend elite status membership for another year, though this doesn't come as too much of a surprise as hotel groups such as Hilton and Hyatt already did.  The clock will now be ticking for American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and probably Southwest to also follow suit, and I would expect them to make similar announcements within the next few days.


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