Airlines and hotels have been generous with status extensions for 2021. Will you reward them with more business or use the chance to be a free agent while still maintaining your status?
With a dwindling number of holdouts, airlines and hotels are offering complimentary, no-strings-attached status extensions for 2021 since travel has been so interrupted by COVID-19 this year.
That’s wonderful news for frequent travelers, many of whom have seen travel dramatically reduced or curtailed completely. The status extension will avoid “unnecessary” end-of-year mileage runs for those on the cusp of re-qualification and serves as an important reminder that loyalty is a two-way street.
But there’s an uncomfortable reality underlying these status extensions. If I don’t have to stay at a Hyatt any longer in 2020 to qualify for Globalist status in 2021, why should I go out of my way to stay at Hyatt? If I don’t have to fly United any longer in 2020 to qualify for 1K status in 2021, why should I go out of my way to fly United?
Perhaps airlines and hotels have already written off 2020 and are only looking ahead to 2021 and hoping to maintain their cadres of loyal travelers. But, at this point at least, I assume travel will resume later this year and travelers like me are left in an interesting position.
Will I still use United for most of my travel needs? Likely. But I won’t think twice about flying American (where I also hold top-tier status), Alaska, or Delta if the schedule and pricing is more attractive. I’ll also use the remainder of this year to burn more miles and focus on new and exotic airlines, since I may have to return to the elite qualifying game next year.
When it comes to hotels, I always go out of my way to stay at a Hyatt. Sometimes that is not possible, like during my recent trip to Africa, but most of the time you can find a Hyatt. While I will still not think twice about staying at higher-end Hyatt properties, you can bet I’ll think twice before my next Hyatt Place or Hyatt House stay if there is a more convenient or cheaper hotel nearby.
With this unavoidable paradox, I was so impressed with Air Canada’s clever option of combining status extensions with the promise of being nominate a friend or family member if you still actually re-earn Altitude status in 2020. It’s smart because it it gives otherwise-loyal Air Canada travelers an extra reason to be loyal, a new milestone that might push business that is already there.
I’m grateful that hotels and airlines have stepped up to extend status through 2021. That said, I’ll probably use the opportunity to branch out and check if the grass is indeed greener on the other side of the pasture.
How about you? Do status extensions alter your hotel and airline choices in 2020?