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This is interesting. We’re only into January and we’re already seeing a number of airlines offering status extensions for the second time. Emirates and Qatar Airways are just two of the airlines that have recently announced status extensions for their elite flyers and now Cathay Pacific has joined in.
Marco Polo Club Elite Status Extensions
In April 2020, Cathay Pacific was one of the first airlines to announce status extensions for its flyers when it became clear that we had a pandemic on our hands and, at the time, it extended all statuses that were set to expire between May 2020 and April 2021 by a year.
Nine months later, and with the travel world in just as much turmoil as it was back then, Cathay Pacific has announced that it will be extending the validity of all Marco Polo elite statuses due to expire in 2021 by a further year. As Cathay put it: All Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond memberships expiring in 2021 will be renewed, regardless of whether the tier requirements have been met.
Marco Polo Club Benefit Extensions
As well as extending elite statuses, Cathay Pacific has confirmed that it will be extending the validity of all “mid-tier benefits” which include things like lounge passes, upgrades, and companion Gold memberships. The airline has said that any unused mid-tier benefits that expire in 2021 will be reissued and made valid for a further 12 months. Extensions are expected to be processed within 7 days of a benefit’s expiry date.
Because the loyalty programs of Emirates and Cathay Pacific don’t run in parallel with a calendar year (like the programs we’re used to seeing in the United States) it’s not too surprising to see these airlines announcing elite status extensions this early into the year (without extensions, some of their elite members would be about to lose their statuses). What is a little surprising is to see these airlines offering full 1-year extensions to anyone whose status expires in 2021.
If your Cathay Pacific status (for example) is set to expire in May, an extension to May 2022 is very nice but not necessarily super-generous. If, however, your status isn’t due to expire until much later in the year, Cathay Pacific’s latest announcement means that your elite status is now safe until deep into 2022…and possibly even though the end of 2022 (if you’re very lucky). That’s fantastic!
I would have expected to see airlines like Cathay Pacific and Emirates offering 1-year status extensions to anyone whose status is set to expire in the first half of 2021 and to hold off from offering any other extensions until its a little clearer what the travel world will look like in the latter half of 2021. The fact that this isn’t the path that these airlines have chosen is very good news for their elite flyers, but it also gives us a little more insight into just how little faith some airlines have that we’ll start to see travel recovering in the second half of the year.
From a personal point of view, I’m now very interested to see what British Airways will do. Like Emirates and Cathay Pacific, British Airways has a loyalty program in which elite statuses expire throughout the year (and not at the end of the calendar year) so with some elite statuses expiring in June of this year (BA extended all elite statuses through June 2021 at the very minimum), will British Airways also give all members whose status expires in 2021 a 1-year extension? Somehow I doubt it, but it will be interesting to watch what happens.
Cathay Pacific has announced that it will be offering 1-year elite status extensions to all Marco Polo members whose elite statuses are due to expire in 2021 and that it will be offering similar 1-year extensions for any unexpired mid-tier benefits as well.