With international travel remaining curtailed and many people unable to earn or spend their hard-earned frequent flyer points and miles, seven airlines are extending the validity of their members’ miles: keeping them warm for when they’re able to travel again.
These extensions range from weeks to months, depending on the program, and with travel generally bookable up to a year in advance, will provide plenty of opportunities for travellers to get back into the skies as global border restrictions are lifted and health concerns subsided.
Here’s how each frequent flyer program is handling its extension, and what you need to know.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Normally, Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles expire after 12 months of account activity – that is, when the member has neither earned nor spent any miles over a concurrent 12-month period.
But until June 30 2020, all miles which were due to expire will be extended: now expiring on that date, rather than in April or May, for instance.
Although a relatively short extension compared to the offers of other airlines, members could use this window of opportunity to earn or use miles in any way possible, which would then extend the validity of their entire balance for 12 months.
For example, Aeroplan miles can be donated to charity, and these donations count as eligible account activity. Donating even the minimum of 1,000 miles would then preserve the remaining balance for an entire year, without having to leave your lounge room.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue, the joint loyalty program of Air France and KLM, is extending its members’ miles until at least the beginning of 2021, if those miles were due to expire before the end of 2020.
As Flying Blue normally uses a rolling 24-month mileage expiry period – that is, as long as miles are earned or spent at least once every 24 months, the balance remains active – this will be of most benefit to those who haven’t flown with the airlines or their partners since 2018.
Australian travellers who hold a credit card attached to the Commonwealth Awards program – or indeed, a Citi Prestige credit card linked with Citibank Rewards, or a Diners Club charge card paired to Diners Club Rewards – have an extra option up their sleeves to keep their Flying Blue miles active.
That’s because Commonwealth Awards points and Diners Club Rewards points can be converted into Flying Blue miles: and making a small conversion would also be enough to keep any existing Flying Blue miles active. The same is true for Citibank Rewards members who are also Prestige cardholders.
As a Star Alliance member airline, Avianca’s Lifemiles frequent flyer program is popular with points-savvy flyers: particularly those who purchase points to parlay into business class or even first class tickets on international flights.
Lifemiles normally adopts a rolling 12-month expiry period, so provided that a member earns or spends miles at least once every 12 months, their balance of points will never expire.
However, any Avianca miles scheduled to expire from April 1 through until the end of 2020 will all now expire on December 31 2020.
Any new activity on the account would then extend the miles further. For instance, if a member spends some of their newly-extended miles in September 2020, those remaining will then be valid until September 2021.
Emirates handles mileage expiry a little differently than most, assigning an expiration date to every individual mile in your account, based on the year in which each mile was earned.
Miles that sit in your account for three years, and which have not been spent, will be wiped in that third year. This takes place at the end of your birth month – not the best birthday gift!
However, any Skywards miles due to expire before the end of 2020 will have their expiry date amended to December 31 2020, even for those who weren’t born in December.
As an example, miles due to expire at the end of May 2020 will now expire at the end of December 2020. New miles earned throughout 2020 will continue to follow the normal three-year expiry rules.
Like its Oneworld alliance partner Qantas, miles in the Finnair Plus program expire after 18 months of account inactivity.
However, all points due to expire before September 30 2020 will now expire on that date.
Members who earn or spend any miles prior to September 30 would therefore see their balance extended for 18 months from the date of that activity, keeping all their hard-earned miles safe.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Similar to Emirates, miles in the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program expire after three years: but rather than being deleted at the end of your birth month, miles expire at the end of the month in which they were earned, regardless of how many miles you’ve since earned or spent.
For instance, if a member earned 10,000 KrisFlyer miles in May 2017, those miles would normally expire at the end of May 2020.
But thanks to Singapore Airlines, any miles which were due to expire between April and August 2020 (inclusive) will have that expiration date pushed back by six months.
Miles originally earned in May 2017 would therefore be valid until the end of November 2020, rather than expiring May 2020, as an example.
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Thai Airways’ own points expiry rules largely mirror KrisFlyer, except that miles expire at the end of each quarter – rather than at the end of each month – three years after they were first earned.
To prevent miles expiring before the end of 2020, Thai Airways is extending all miles expiring at the end of March, June and September 2020, to be valid until the end of December 2020.
Members who earned miles between January and September 2017, and had not yet used them, are the ones who benefit from this extension, as all miles earned after that date retain their usual three-year expiry date, which would not be before the end of December 2020 at the earliest.