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How to Keep Your 2021 Airline Status

Joelle Mentis

Earning mileage is your kind of sport. In this case, status means something. Actually, it means a lot. You like your upgrades. Those warm nuts and that glass of champagne at takeoff. That ride in the Mercedes that picks you up on the tarmac. Even that special tag you display proudly on your carry-on that means you’re Delta 360, Concierge Key and Global Services. But no matter how much you’ve tried this year, there’s no way you’re traveling 250,000 miles in a mask, in a world that’s (for the most part) still closed. Good thing airlines are making it easier to keep your status this year. This is your guide to keeping your 2021 airline status next year, too. Because the time to plan for those miles and points is now. And why not see the world this year, and enjoy yourself why you’re at it?

Delta

This year, Delta makes it easier to keep your 2021 airline status for next year. At all levels, your current Medallion status will remain status quo for an additional year through January 31, 2023. And, all of your Medallion Qualification Miles will rollover to 2022. For Diamond and Platinum members, the benefits get better. Those who earned status in 2021 can select one (platinum) or three (diamond) choice benefits for 2022.

If You Continue to Fly

All Medallion members who actually earn their miles this year will receive higher upgrade priority than those in the same tier whose status has been extended. You’ll also earn up to 75% more toward your status through December 21, 2021. The Medallion Status Accelerators increase flight miles, segments and dollars in main cabin by 50%. Flights in first class receive 75%. On product purchases and upgrades, you earn 25-75% more.

The benefits also extend toward unused upgrade certificates, which will remain viable until 2023. Miles flown in 2021 and 2022 will accrue as normal, despite the rollover. This gives frequent flyers a leg up on reaching a higher status level for 2023 and 2024.

American Airlines

Rumor has it, American Airlines will allow you to keep your 2021 airline status through 2023. Many members have reportedly already received status extensions. The caveat is that we’re waiting on official word to be released.

For those with existing status, there are two ways to retain status through January 2023 in 2021: The first is to spend $15,000 on an American Airlines credit card. For those who can’t currently fly where they really want to go, this is a great option for retaining status. The second way is to spend at least 2,000 qualifying dollars on eligible airline tickets between September 1 and December 31, 2021.

Additionally, on an individual basis, flyers will have an easier time achieving elite status tiers through a special promotion. Elite status members will receive additional miles in their account when they register. Upgrade and mile expiration will also be extended through December 2021, so all miles and upgrades set to expire before then will expire in January 2022.

New Choice Benefits

There will be new choice benefits for elite status holders. When you qualify for Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status, you will earn rewards of your choice: one for Platinum Pro and up to four for Executive Platinum. Rewards include options like carbon offsetting and Admirals Club membership. Also, in addition to keeping your status, there are new, reduced qualification requirements for higher status. If you have One World status, you should check to see whether you may now qualify for a higher tier.

Award Travel Fees, Jet Blue and More

There are tons of smaller changes, such as the elimination of award travel fees and the introduction of credits with JetBlue and more choices from Alaskan Airlines. Lastly, all members will enjoy changed flight and upgrades benefits. And, there are companion benefits and extended award mile benefits for members through 2021.

United

For now, United program isn’t guaranteeing your 2021 airline status to next year. However, United Airlines also wants you to earn Premier status through 2022. They have significantly dropped the number of flights and points needed at each tier of Premier membership. The United MileagePlus program is based on points for qualification. And now it’s even easier to maintain status using just qualifying points or qualifying points and flights, and a United MileagePlus credit card.

With United, there’s no distance requirement to earn status. Instead, you can qualify with just Premier Qualifying Points (PQP), or PQP and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF). Now, for the top tier, Premier 1K, instead of 54 qualifying flights and 18,000 qualifying points, or 24,000 qualifying points, there’s a reduced milestone in place. You need just 36 qualifying flights and 13,000 qualifying points, or 15,000 qualifying points to retain status through 2021. To reach the first Premier Silver tier, you just need 8 PQF and 3,000 PQP. Additionally, for MileagePlus members outside the US, United has gifted you four United segments needed to qualify you for Premier status in 2022.

Like the other airlines, United has extended PlusPoints expiring on or after January 1, 2021 by an additional six months. The biggest change is that historically, Premier members automatically receive bonus PlusPoints based on their tier. Under the update, you can now qualify for your credit based on just value of tickets purchased and number of flights taken. In the past, miles, segments and dollars were all factors. While United has not followed Delta’s lead (yet) to guarantee your 2021 airline status carries into 2022, the airlines is working out ways to encourage you to take that flight this year.

However, like American and Delta, your points held at the end of 2020 will jumpstart your status for 2022. It’s also easier to earn PlusPoints this year. Once you reach 1K status and earn 15,000 qualifying points, you’ll earn 20 points for every 2,000 qualifying points instead of every 3,000. You’ll also now be able to earn qualifying points on partner airlines, as well as United.

Takeaways

All airlines have made it easier to maintain 2021 airline status to next year. At every tier they generally allow miles and points to roll over. Also, it’s easier than ever to accrue miles and points. Delta and American have given all elite members access to added benefits. And American and United are now adding points to their partner flights to maintain 2021 airline status into 2022. American and Delta have recognize points earned on affiliated credit cards, so you don’t have to fly anywhere to rack them up. Lastly, the real way to juice your 2021 airline status to 2022 is to purchase tickets above basic economy level; however, main cabin tickets do still earn points. These regulations are changing daily, just like the COVID situation, so we’ll keep updating you on the latest.

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