Airline and Hotel Programs That Allow Status Extensions for Life Events

Most programs limit extensions to parental leave, but others have broader policies.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 

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Life happens. Whether it's the birth of a new child or needing to care for a family member, sometimes you need to take a break from your normal travels to spend some time at home. Airlines and hotel programs understand that, and some are even willing to extend your elite status to let you pick up where you left off before your leave.

Let's take a look at the airline and hotel loyalty programs that grant life event elite status extensions.

10 airlines and hotels that grant life event elite status extensions

1. Delta Reclaim My Status

(Editor's note: Big changes are coming to Delta's SkyMiles program in 2024, including how members can earn elite status. Read more on these upcoming changes here.)

Delta Air Lines offers the broadest elite status extension of any U.S.-based airline. In addition to covering new parents, Delta will also let you "reclaim" your elite status if you:

  • Change jobs.

  • Head back to school.

  • Experience a medical situation.

  • Need to take care of a friend or family member.

  • Other life events at Delta's discretion.

If you're a current Medallion member experiencing one of these life events, there's no need to do anything just yet. But when you're ready to travel again, submit your request on Delta's website. You'll need to provide documentation of your life event and have already lost your elite status level to apply.

If Delta approves your request, you'll get complimentary Medallion elite status for three months starting on the date that your request is approved. Your status level will be matched back to the tier that you had in the previous Medallion year.

Then, you'll get the opportunity to "reclaim" your status by flying during that three-month period. The number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD) required will depend on the tier that you've reclaimed:

  • Silver: $1,250 MQDs.

  • Gold: $2,500 MQDs.

  • Platinum: $3,750 MQDs.

  • Diamond: $7,000 MQDs.

2. Alaska Airlines Elite Leave

New parents can apply for Alaska Airlines Elite Leave to extend their elite status for another year during a time of parental leave. Qualifying types of parental leave include maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

All you need to do is email [email protected] when you're coming back from parental leave. Include your full name, date of birth, Mileage Plan number and "proof of pregnancy or parental leave." For proof, Alaska says a note from your doctor or employer will count.

As part of this program, Alaska will presume you to be requalified for elite status in the year that your parental leave ends. However, you won't get all of the perks that come along with requalifying for elite status — such as the 50,000 bonus miles for qualifying for MVP Gold 75K elite status.

Note that you're not eligible for Elite Leave if you got your Alaska Mileage Plan elite status as a gift or status matched from another airline.

3. Elite Status Extension on Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines offers an Elite Status Extension to Pualani Gold and Platinum elite status members on maternity or paternity leave. Extensions are also available for elite members who have a medical condition or military deployment of more than 12 weeks.

To request an elite extension, contact Hawaiian Airlines through its dedicated webpage to provide documentation of the medical or military event. Verification and approval may take up to four weeks. Upon approval, Hawaiian will extend your elite status by one year.

Note that Elite Status Extension on Hawaiian Airlines is only available to legal residents of the United States and Canada. Pualani elite status members residing in other regions don't qualify.

4. Air Canada Parental Leave

Current Aeroplan elite members who take time off from work for the birth, adoption or fostering of a new child can request an extension of their Aeroplan elite status.

Note that Aeroplan requires that you're taking time off from work to qualify for this Air Canada Parental Leave elite status extension. Also, this Parental Leave extension isn't available to Aeroplan members who received status as part of a "special offer" or as part of the Select Benefit to grant Aeroplan elite status to a friend.

To apply for this extension, email proof of parental leave from your employer and a copy of the birth certificate, adoption or foster paperwork to [email protected].

5. Hilton Diamond Status Extension

Unlike most airline elite status extensions — which are generally limited to parental leave — Hilton allows a Diamond elite status extension for any life event. However, Hilton only grants this elite status extension once across the lifetime of your membership. So, make sure to be strategic about when you use it.

To be eligible, you'll need to be a current Diamond elite status member with an elite status expiring on March 31, 2023. In addition, you need to have earned Diamond elite status for at least three years (consecutive or nonconsecutive) and meet one of two conditions:

  • Completed stays totaling at least 250 paid or reward nights.

  • Earned at least 500,000 base points over your lifetime with Hilton.

This life event elite status extension is only open to members who have met the stated elite status criteria. That means that you won't get an elite status extension if you only earned Hilton Diamond elite status by holding the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. With that said, you can just maintain your Hilton Diamond elite status by continuing to carry the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — or by signing back up once you return to normal travel. Terms apply.

International airlines that allow parental leave

In addition to the North American-based airlines and hotels covered above, several international airlines also allow an elite status extension for life events:

6. Aegean Airlines: One-year extension available to mothers and fathers who are current Silver or Gold members.

7. Aer Lingus: Current Silver, Platinum or Concierge status members can apply to receive an elite status extension upon the birth or adoption of a new child.

8. British Airways: Current Bronze, Silver or Gold elite members can put your Executive Club account on hold for a year during your maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Even better, British Airways will gift you 1,000 bonus Avios when you add your new family member to your Household Account.

9. Qantas: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One elite members who are taking at least six months off from paid employment for a birth, adoption or fostering can put their Qantas Frequent Flyer elite status on hold for up to 18 months.

10. Virgin Australia: Current Silver, Gold and Platinum members can pause their status for six months to take care of a child under 2 years old — including through adoption.

If you're wondering if you qualify for life event elite status extensions …

Several airlines and hotels will extend elite status for new parents — whether by birth, adoption or fostering. Some loyalty programs will also extend elite status for those experiencing other types of life events, from changing jobs to caring for a friend or family member.

Each loyalty program's policies are different, so it doesn't hurt to check with your favorite airline or hotel program to see if you're eligible for an elite status extension. Even if the airline or hotel doesn't have a formal policy, the program might be able to provide an extension or elite status challenge to get you back.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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