The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
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.