Categories: Coronavirus

US Airlines Extend Business Loyalty Programs

Frequent flyers have nothing to worry about when it comes to the industry’s loyalty programs, according to Reuters.

U.S. airlines are extending benefits and member status into next year for its best customers because many passengers have been grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta Air Lines Inc.’s SkyMiles Medallion Members have had the expiration dates extended for upgrade certificates and travel vouchers.

At the same time, United Airlines Holdings Inc. is extending its MileagePlus Premier member status through January 2022. In addition, United has reduced thresholds to qualify by 50 percent. The company said that will make it easier to upgrade seating.

American Airlines Group Inc. told Reuters it was continuing to assess the situation.

In addition, most airlines are waiving fees and giving refunds for reservations made in the last few months.

Last month, PYMNTS reported as the airline industry is struggling amid the lockdown as the coronavirus spreads and has turned to governments for financial aid. Without it, airlines said they fear they’ll go bankrupt.

COVID-19 has reduced flights, and the few airplanes in the air are carrying fewer passengers.

Aireon, a satellite-based aviation tracking company, told The Washington Post last week that 37,826 aircraft were tracked on Nov. 5, before the coronavirus took its toll on air travel. But on Tuesday (March 31), just 26,217 planes were detected, a nearly 31 percent decrease.

In addition, a few weeks ago, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group of nearly 300 airlines worldwide, predicted revenue would decline by $113 billion in 2020.

The White House has imposed travel restrictions in more than two dozen European nations.

Last month, the Associated Press (AP) reported airlines are cutting flights, freezing hiring, and parking planes to cope with a dramatic drop in bookings and increased cancellations caused by fear over the virus outbreak.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told the AP the outbreak might be worse for airlines than the terror attacks of 2001.

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LIVE PYMNTS ROUNDTABLE: MODERNIZING & SCALING FOR THE NEW NORMAL

The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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