This article contains an updated summary of the most important coronavirus news that is relevant to Australian frequent flyers as of Friday, 10 April 2020. It specifically covers the implications of COVID-19 in terms of travel and loyalty programs. For the latest health advice, we recommend checking Australian government updates and the latest World Health Organization advice.
Virgin Australia ends almost all domestic flights
Virgin Australia is ending all domestic flights from today, except for a Sydney-Melbourne flight that will run every day except Saturdays. At this stage, the flight suspensions are until mid-June 2020.
Read more: Domestic Air Travel Grinds to a Halt
Jetstar extends cancellation voucher validity from 6 to 12 months
Jetstar is now offering vouchers to customers that which to cancel their flights that are valid for 12 months, instead of the previous 6 months. The offer is now valid until 30 April 2020, for bookings with an original travel date until 31 July 2020.
Remember that you are not legally obliged to accept a credit voucher for involuntary cancellations. If Jetstar has cancelled your flight, you can request a refund instead.
Singapore Airlines extends validity of expiring KrisFlyer miles by 6 months
Singapore Airlines will extend the validity of KrisFlyer miles that were due to expire between April and August 2020 by six months. KrisFlyer miles normally expire after a fixed period of three years if not yet redeemed within this time.
Qantas & Virgin to operate more international repatriation flights
In addition to the scheduled repatriation flights that were announced last week, Qantas and Virgin will operate special charter flights on behalf of various governments. Qantas will fly Australians home from Peru, Argentina and South Africa in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Virgin Australia will operate a Brisbane-Auckland-Hong Kong-Paris flight.
The Australian government is also in talks with other countries, including India and the Philippines, regarding repatriation flights for Australian citizens.
Qantas Business Rewards level extensions
Qantas Business Rewards members that had a Level 2 or Level 3 membership, as of 27 March 2020, will have their membership extended for an extra 12 months.
More airline & hotel status extensions announced
Air Canada Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and El Al Matmid Club are the latest frequent flyer programs to announce 12-month status extensions for all existing elite members. Delta and United already announced status extensions last weekend, but at the time of writing, American Airlines AAdvantage has not yet followed. (It is likely that they will soon.)
Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy has announced 12-months status extensions for all elite members worldwide, following similar announcements by Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt.
Ravn Alaska bankruptcy, Germanwings brand discontinued
More airlines have fallen victim to COVID-19. Ravn Alaska, a regional airline based in the U.S. state of the same name, has entered bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa Group has announced it will decommission 18 wide-body aircraft from its fleet and discontinue the Germanwings brand. The airline group is forecasting continued weak demand for some time, even after the current travel restrictions are lifted.
Singapore Changi Terminal 2 closes for 18 months
Singapore’s Changi Airport will close Terminal 2 completely for 18 months, starting from 1 May 2020. The terminal is hardly needed at the moment with so few flights, so the airport will take the opportunity to complete upgrade works while demand is low. The 18-month closure signals the airport’s expectation that it to take a while before “normal” levels of air travel resume.
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