Delta and United extend mileage plan benefits for customers unable to fly because of coronavirus

Delta is extending benefits for mileage plan members unable to travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Clare Duffy
, CNN Business
CNN — Delta is extending benefits for mileage plan members unable to travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus has been a massive disruption for the travel industry, as government and health officials restrict travel and and urge people stay home. A $50 billion airline bailout package from the US government is expected to help, but industry executives still anticipate lower demand for air travel for quite some time.

Delta is the first major airline to announce extensions to its mileage programs, meant to reassure customers that their travel perks will still be there once fears and risks surrounding the outbreak have subsided.

"As coronavirus continues to dramatically impact travel across the globe, you don't have to worry about your benefits -— they'll be extended so you can enjoy them when you are ready to travel again," Sandeep Dube, Delta's senior vice president for customer engagement and loyalty, said in a statement Sunday.

Among the measures, Delta SkyMiles Medallion members will have their current status extended through 2021, rather than having them expire at the end of 2020. Similarly, all Medallion Qualifying Miles from 2020 will be rolled over to next year to qualify for 2022 status.

Delta Sky Club memberships that set to expire on March 1, 2020 or later will receive six additional months of Sky Club access beyond the expiration date.

The company is also extending various other Delta cardholder and SkyMiles members benefits — including flight credits and companion certificates — that were set to expire, for six to twelve months.

"We are continuously monitoring how coronavirus impacts travel and will make additional adjustments to support our customers' needs as the pandemic evolves," Dube said.

United Airlines also announced similar changes to its program, MilagePlus.

In addition to extending statuses for another year, it's also reducing the threshold to reach a higher level by 50% for 2021. The airline also matched Delta's offer giving customers two years to use their flight vouchers.

In an email to MileagePlus members, United said it will announce changes later this year to make it easier to earn statuses next year because it acknowledged that "getting back to travel will occur at a different pace for different members."

--CNN Business' Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.


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