Travel Loyalty Programs

Is It Time for Delta to Extend Status, Vouchers, and Certificates into 2022?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Will Delta extend status in 2022? is a question we’re frequently asked. And the honest answer is, We don’t know.

But something interesting happened Tuesday.

Flying Blue announced it’s extending some members’ statuses and qualification periods up to December 2022.

This raised our eyebrows for a couple of reasons. First, the Air France-KLM loyalty program is one of the only frequent flyer outfits to extend some folks’ status through the end of 2022.

An Air France Airbus is seen at a Terminal 4 gate at London Heathrow International Airport (LHR) in the UK.

Second, keep in mind Delta owns 8.8% of Air France-KLM. Granted, less than a nine-percent stake isn’t anything huge and doesn’t necessarily signal anything. However, it does make one wonder if Delta will soon follow suit about extending status through January 2023 (the end of the 2022 Medallion year).

Now that Flying Blue made its move, do the rest of the airlines follow? Is Flying Blue sort of the guinea pig for the next few months while we wait to see how everything falls into place — or falls out?

Here are a few things that make me wonder if Delta (and other airlines) will now extend status into 2022 — or wait a while.

Warsaw, Poland. 28 May 2018. Passenger airplane F-GRHV - Airbus A319-111 - Air France is flying from the runway of Warsaw Chopin Airport
(©iStock.com/Bartek71)

Flying Blue: Different from SkyMiles and Many Other Programs

Unlike many loyalty programs, Flying Blue’s status and qualification year don’t reset for everyone on January 1. The program is based on a rolling qualification calendar.

Your personal qualification period starts when you earn your first Mile or gain your first XP.  Once you gain enough XP to move up a level, you’ll be upgraded instantly and your membership period at this level will last 15 months (till the end of the month).    If you do not gain enough XP to move up a level, but maintain status XP, your level will remain the same. For example, if you are Silver but have not gained the 180 XP to move to Gold during the qualification period but you still have 100 XP for Silver, you will remain Silver.

If at the end of your qualification period you keep your level, your membership period at this level will be renewed for 12 months. If you are Elite, your new qualification period will start off with any surplus XP you gained. If at the end of your qualification period you don’t reach the XP that got you to this level, your status will only be reduced by one level. Your membership period at this new level will last for 12 months. If you are Elite, your new qualification period will start off with any surplus XP you gained.

FlyingBlue.us

OMAAT broke this down in fairly understandable terms when Flying Blue made its status extension announcement last year.

And Traveling for Miles summed it fairly succinctly:

If you’re a Flying Blue elite with a qualification period ending between March and December 2021 your elite status will be extended for a further qualification period and any surplus XPs that you may have been earned will be protected and rolled over. Congratulations!

A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner, tail number PH-BHG and inscribed with "The Flying Dutchman," is seen parked at gate D3 during sunset at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Why Delta and Other Airlines Might Wait to Extend Status and Other Benefits

Keep in mind Delta didn’t announce its host of extensions until April 5 last year. We’re still a month-and-a-half away from that same date this year.

Lockdown orders were in effect across much of the United States. We didn’t know as much about COVID-19 as we do now. People were getting laid off en masse.

Now, though, there’s sort of a light at the end of the tunnel. The devastating numbers from December and January are finally falling. Schools are starting to reopen (even in California!). Lockdown orders are being eased in many areas (at least in the United States).

Plus, Delta is a business. They want customers. They want people to be on their planes. And if they keep giving away status, there’s a little less incentive for people to fly.

Delta jet tails are seen at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Why Delta Should Now Extend Status, Vouchers, and Certificates into 2023

All that said, here’s why we think it would be prudent for Delta to extend status, vouchers, and certificates into at least December 2022. There are several reasons people won’t be able — or reasonably willing — to travel until at least late in the year.

The CDC Says Travel Isn’t a Good Idea

The US Center for Disease Control states: “Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. Postpone travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

So if the government — who bails out airlines — tells us not to travel, how can we use our Companion Certificates, drink tickets, Sky Club guest passes, and other benefits soon?

And if we can’t use the benefits afforded by our SkyMiles American Express cards, then we’re not as likely to want to remain cardholders. (I’ve already canceled one SkyMiles card and downgraded another.)

Delta is Still Blocking Middle Seats

Delta seems to acknowledge that the COVID-19 threat is dangerous enough that it’s blocking middle seats through at least April 30. Given that we’re supposed to distance physically, I think that’s an admirable call on the airline’s part.

If people need to be physically distanced and planes are flying at reduced capacity, that sort of sends a signal that people should wait a while to fly. Right?

COVID Numbers are Still High

According to the New York Times, there were 25,616 new COVID cases reported in the United States on April 5, 2020 — the date Delta announced status would be extended into January 2022.

On this past Monday, February 15, 2021, there were 55,372.

Sure, that’s a steep drop from the 300,000 new cases we saw on January 8. And continually decreasing numbers are great. But numbers dropped last September — and many people seemed to think that meant they could blow off some steam with their friends and family.

Everything was a living hell a few months later.

doctor gives corona virus vaccine, home care service concept
(©iStock.com/Dejan_Dundjerski)

Vaccinations

I’m thrilled there’s a COVID-19 vaccine finally available. My in-laws got their first shot, as did my dad and stepmother.

But there are plenty of problems with vaccine distribution. This week’s cold weather only made the problem worse.

Plus, COVID vaccinations currently require two jabs, separated by a few weeks apart. Then you need to hang out for a few more weeks and let the antibodies do their thing. So if you don’t get the vaccine until, say, May, the soonest you’re getting on a plane is maybe June or July. By then, half of the Medallion year gone — as are the opportunities to use your certificates.

Plus, there’s this little hiccup:

COVID Variants

At least three COVID-19 variants are crisscrossing the world. The CDC says:

These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

Again, COVID cases are decreasing, and the vaccines seem effective against the known strains. But the fact “these variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants” are more incentive to not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Lockdowns and Testing Mandates

Two more issues affecting where people can fly are regional lockdowns and testing mandates. For example, the United States requires all entering passengers to produce negative COVID tests before boarding flights back to the USA. Well, that takes some of the fun out of international travel. And that assumes the area you visit isn’t under any lockdown rules or curfews.

A businessman contemplates a lesson learned.
(©iStock.com/fizkes)

Jobs and Money

A lot of us don’t have the jobs or financial security we did a year ago.

Say I’m vaccinated and able to travel starting in August. If a bunch of work comes along in the fall, that will take priority over personal travel for my wife and me.

I’m guessing there are others in the same boat.

Final Approach

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: Delta was generous in its extensions last year.

But while the world is making progress in the fight against COVID-19, it’s still war instead of a few scattered battles.

Most of us will still try to travel as soon as we can. (I miss the heck out of it.) But if we don’t have a reasonable window or means to achieve our status goals, then I think Delta needs to extend status, certificates, and vouchers — and do so sooner than later. It’ll be excellent customer service — and only entice us to give them as much business as possible when we can.

Featured image: ©iStock.com/Boarding1Now

 

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

10 Comments

  1. I jumped through all of the hoops in January 2020 to maintain my Diamond status for 2021. Two months later Delta extended status for everyone. Whether or not status is extended for 2022 I won’t be flying until it’s safe. Considering the numbers at this point, one should assume that every domestic flight has at least one COVID-19 infectious person on board.

      • Per their website, beer and wine is available in FC and C+ on most flights. Hoping this is true as the wife and I have a TPA to SEA flight in FC this weekend.

    • With a total of 8 global upgrades. I’m hoping Delta extends status and vouchers again. I have flights booked throughout the year but that could change. I’d love to be able to wait for some more mileage runs for 2022.

  2. As a minimum, I think Delta should reduce the MQD requirement or better yet, suspend it for the 1 years.

    1) More companies are moving to Remote office: Let’s face it, to meet the $15,000 MQD one must either fly on partner airlines (like most of us who do mileage runs) or fly lots of business/first class on Delta on the company’s dime. With more and more companies discovering that work can be done via skype, zoom, webex…etc, why would they want to spend the money and let their employees travel all over the country or the world for that matter.

    2) International Borders are still closed: With a lot of the international borders still closed, it is very difficult to rack up MQD and for that matter MQM without doing one or two international flights. Let’s be honest, flying back and forth within the USA is not a feasible way to earn the 125,000 MQM. Example: a typical mileage run between JFK and LAX is 2,829 miles. This means that one has to fly 45 flights or about 22 round trips to make the 125,000 MQM. There are 52 weeks per year, this means that one will have to fly almost every other week to make that qualification. Oh, let’s not forget the MQD requirement. It takes 45one-way flights to make the MQM number. In order to meet the MQD ($15,000), one must pay $15,000/45=$334 per one way ticket. Last I checked, JFK to LAX flight for the Main Cabin is less than $200 per one-way trip. Of course, unless you want that Diamond status so badly that you don’t care about the cost and you are willing to buy First Class ticket for your mileage run.

    3) Delta has reduced its cost of operations with laid-offs, no meal on flights, closing Sky Clubs…etc.: Yes, Delta may not be making the kind of money that they aimed to achieve with their frequently flyer program by reducing the MQD or for that matter making temporary adjustment to the program. However, they have reduced a lot of their cost during Covid. As said in the blog, we can’t use the upgrade certificates since it is still not safe to fly and companies are not eager to send their employees on the road yet. Therefore, those benefits are not being fully used anyway.

    I think Delta will have to do some level of modification (temporary at least) for the 2022 qualification. I believe they are, like the cruise lines, looking at some of the vital statistics such as vaccination numbers, infection rate, death rate…etc to decide how far they will go. IMHO, I think most of them are waiting to June when the vaccine is available to anyone who wants it here in the USA and when it becomes more available around the world to see its impact to the pandemic. Remember, Delta is a global company. It relies as much on its international routes as its domestic routes to be profitable. Frequent flyers cannot meet the qualifications by flying domestic alone. After all, the current qualification requirements were based on when the world was fully opened for business before the pandemic.

  3. I don’t think Delta needs to do another blanket status extension to January of 2023. However, I would like to see them do something that would make it be feasible for me to maintain my DM status. Maybe offer DM extensions for anyone holding the Reserve card with a minimum spend of $60K. Another option would be to allow many DMs to drop down to PM, but have a much more generous “reclaim my status” option so that people can be DMs again as soon as they are ready to fly. My guess is that many people are going to be hesitant to fly well into 2022, and maybe longer.

    By the way, I just booked a trip to Puerto Rico (leaving March 5), and noticed that miles are worth about 2.2 cents each, at least for that trip. I have four GUCs that expire July 29 and was tempted to use two for this trip because I doubt that I will fly internationally before then. However, I am betting that the certificate expiration dates will be extended again. Also, miles seem to have good value right now, and it seems pointless to try to accumulate MQDs this year. The trip includes a Delta One segment from LAX to JFK in the new 767 cabin, and I am looking forward to experiencing the new cabin.

  4. Delta’s website information is correct. We just flew FC and C+ from LAS to FLL, connecting in ATL. In FC, we received a choice of the boxed snacks and beer a & Wine. The Wine is the small individual bottle ones. In C+, we received a zip bag of snacks. Inside the bad, there is a bag of gold fish, toasted almonds, sanitized wipe and Biscoff cookies. We were also offered beer and wine as in FC.

  5. Another spot article Chris with real relevance! I appreciate Rogers comments too! I hope someone at Delta reads our interest in this issue too, all of us would like to maintain status but in all fairness it will not make a difference to me status or not, Ill fly and start over building my diamond status when international flights are doable…until then i guess ill coast down to platinum which is no biggy, i still have plenty of upgrade certificates to use or loose ! Lol the snag for me is reaching the $25k delta spend with no international travel in 2021…oh well! Wait and see, but i really dont think delta will do anything huge on extensions…they are in survival mode! Good luck to them

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