PHOTO FILE: A flight attendant awaits the departure of a one-passenger flight between Washington and New Orleans as the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, in Washington, USA, April 3, 2020. REUTERS / Carlos Barria
(Reuters) – U.S. airlines is expanding the benefits and status of the loyalty program to 2021 for new members returning home due to a new coronavirus.
Business trips and vacations have almost ceased worldwide, forcing airlines to drastically reduce flight schedules and land their jets. Before the pandemic, operators had actively sought out business or first-class tourists in particular to increase revenue when competition became tighter.
United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) is extending current member MileagePlus Premier status to January 2022, reducing the threshold for Premier qualifications by 50%, offering more credit card points and making it easier to increase seating.
Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) is extending SkyMiles Medal Member status and expiration dates for upgrading certificates and travel vouchers.
American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL.O) on Monday did not have an update on its elite program, but said that it continues to assess the situation.
The airline also offers reduced fee changes, and in some cases refunds, for trips booked within the next month or two. Terms and conditions vary by airline.
U.S. Department of Transportation has informed airlines that they must return tickets for flights they have canceled, or make significant schedule changes that passengers have not received, after increasing numbers of consumer complaints and questions.
US. and foreign airlines have canceled hundreds of thousands of flights and lost millions of seats because travel demand has dropped because of the coronavirus pandemic. Facing the so-called unprecedented crisis carrier, many are looking for government assistance to help them avoid layoffs of employees.
In the United States, prominent Democrats in Congress on Sunday urged the US Treasury to move quickly to provide $ 32 billion in cash assistance to airlines and airport contractors without setting heavy requirements that could lead to bankruptcy.
Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Richard Chang
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