With flights reduced and many international borders closed this year due to coronavirus, many airlines have already extended the elite status of their frequent flyers by 6-12 months. But Air New Zealand is going a step further.
Having already extended the status of its frequent flyers by 12 months in March 2020, Air New Zealand is now extending the status of all Airpoints members for another year. All Airpoints Silver, Gold and Elite members as of 31 January 2021 will receive the additional “banked year” of Air New Zealand status.
In cases where Airpoints members have already earned enough “status points” to renew their status without support from Air New Zealand – despite the coronavirus travel restrictions – the extra year of elite status will simply be banked until it is needed. The additional 1-year status extension will be available until 31 March 2023 (a year after the first 12-month status extension expires) and will expire if it is not used by then.
For Air New Zealand frequent flyers who had already qualified for Silver, Gold or Elite status this year, their memberships could now be automatically extended until as far as 2023 without any additional flying required.
“We appreciate travel in 2020 isn’t what any of our frequent flyers were expecting or prepared for and as a result they have had fewer opportunities to maintain their tier status,” Air New Zealand’s General Manager Loyalty Kate O’Brien said.
“We had fantastic feedback and messages of support following the extension announced earlier this year and this further 12-month extension will help eligible members protect their current status for longer,” O’Brien said.
There’s more information about the additional Airpoints status extension on the Air New Zealand website.
Other airlines haven’t been as generous with their status extensions (yet)
Air New Zealand’s approach is quite different to what most other airlines, including Qantas and Virgin Australia, have done for their elite status members.
In March 2020, both Qantas and Virgin Australia announced that all frequent flyers would automatically have their status extended for 12 months if they didn’t earn enough status credits during their current membership year. But these status extensions were only for one year, and were of no benefit to frequent flyers that had already renewed their status in their own right anyway.
It’s now becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 will impact travel for more than just 12 months. Indeed, after cancelling all scheduled international flights in late March 2020, Qantas recently said it doesn’t expect to resume long-haul flights until at least July 2021. That’s why Air New Zealand has now decided to extend its frequent flyers’ statuses for a second year.
Recognising that frequent flyers will need further assistance to renew their Silver, Gold, Platinum or Platinum One status in 2021, Qantas has introduced initiatives like status boost and status support (unofficially dubbed “StatusKeeper” on our website). There have also been various opportunities to earn status credits on the ground, for example with Woolworths and hotel bookings.
But Qantas Frequent Flyer members will still need to do some flying to renew their status next year because the airline has not waived the “minimum four Qantas or Jetstar flights” rule. This will make it almost impossible for overseas-based Qantas Frequent Flyer members to renew their status next year if Australia’s international border remains closed. Melbourne residents could also struggle if travel remains off the cards for an extended period.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has not yet offered any additional support beyond the status extensions and temporary status credit gifts announced back in March 2020.
Recently, Turkish Airlines also extended the status of its Miles&Smiles members by a further 12 months. Turkish Airlines originally gave everyone a 6-month status extension.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Status extension
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