Travel Tips

First World Problem, Resolved: Hilton to Extend 2020 Status Till 2021

I suspect other travel loyalty programs will follow suit

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

In the past few weeks, I have had to cancel many plane tickets, hotel bookings, rental car reservations, and other travel plans. Fortunately, all cancellation and change fees were waived. But the airlines, at least, do not offer refunds. They simply give you credits for future trips. At present, I have given United a ~$5,000 interest-free line of credit. You're welcome.

Frequent fliers have also begun to worry about a related issue: status. As a general matter, airlines award status based on miles flow and hotels award status based on nights stayed. Now, airplanes are grounded and hotels are vacant. Business travel has ground to a halt. What will happen to status for 2021?

Hilton released an announcement that should put frequent fliers at some ease:

We consider it our privilege to have you as a Hilton Honors member and we want to show our appreciation by extending your benefits:

  • 2019 Status Extension. All members whose 2019 status was scheduled to be downgraded on March 31, 2020—whether it's Diamond, Gold or Silver—will automatically receive an extension through March 31, 2021.
  • 2020 Status Extension. We are extending your 2020 member status through March 31, 2022. This means you will continue to enjoy all the Diamond, Gold or Silver benefits you have access to today for the next 24 months.
  • Points Extension. We will pause the expiration of all Points scheduled to expire between now and December 31, 2020.
  • Weekend Night Rewards Earned on Eligible Hilton Credit Cards. We have extended the expiration date of all unexpired Weekend Night Rewards as of March 11, 2020, and all new ones issued until August 30, 2020, through the end of next summer (August 31, 2021).

The second bullet is the most important. Whatever status members currently have in 2020, they will retain in 2021 (to be precise, through March 2022).

I hope United and other travel companies follow suit: simply extend current status for another year.

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  1. Maybe we can see a mashup of this posting and the one about opposing pass/fail grading. Paraphrasing one student, maybe someone opposed to status extensions would say something like “I rely on my progress towards earning my Hilton status to help gauge my travel weaknesses and strengths.”

  2. Depends on the airline: British Airways just refunded my $1500 R/T fare from SAN to FCO via LHR as a result of the ravages of CV in Italy with no questions asked. I’m not surprised that UAL is taking the cheapskate route.

    1. That $5000 is gone if the airline files bankruptcy, which is a very real possibility. And if the airline is grounded, then its not offering the service…

      I’m wondering here — what are the credit card chargeback rules on a situation like this? I did this once when a merchant double-billed me, it was a simple phone call.

      1. DOT has “guidance” that is an airline cancels a flight and you are unwilling to accept alternate accommodation then you should receive a refund in the original form of payment. As far as I can tell it’s not a “rule” I might be wrong.

  3. A greater problem is the quarantine, and maybe not just in the US, either. It is a reasonable emergency step to take, only until we can get mask production increased enough that everyone can wear them. That needs to happen ASAP, and then we need to resume normal interaction.

    If the quarantine lasts beyond the initial 3 weeks — say April 7 here — then I expect and encourage mass disobedience to it.

  4. Poor Josh.
    If you had flown 4 million miles on United, you’d be Global Service for life.

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