The ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China has certainly generated huge impact on the travel industry worldwide. We have seen airlines cancelling flights to and from China, and many hotels in China remain close. Needless to say, lots of people have to change or cancel their travel plans, affecting their ability to reach elite status this calendar year. Given this situation, hotel chains are offering free status extension policy, first by IHG and most recently by Hyatt.
Feb 19th evening update: Hilton just announced their extension policy.
Feb 21st morning update: Marriott’s extension policy just came out.
1. IHG’s policy
A few days ago, IHG announced that it will offer status extension to members in Greater China. This includes mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau, and Taiwan. The specific rules are:
- Elite status will be automatically extended for 12 months, with the exception of Ambassador.
- Points will now expire on Dec 31st, 2020.
- Ambassador status will receive extension of another 6 months.
- Free night certificate associated with China CITIC Bank will be extended for 190 days..
To qualify, your account has to have an address in the Greater China region as of Feb 17th. It won’t apply if you change your address afterwards. Kudos to IHG for being the first in helping its loyal members!
Below is the official policy in Chinese.
2. Hyatt’s policy
Earlier today Hyatt announced that those residing in the Asia Pacific region will have their elite status automatically extended for one year. This means that the status will be valid through Feb 28, 2022. Meanwhile, any award certificate associated with such accounts, including free night, club access upgrade, and suite upgrade, will be good through Dec 31, 2021.
This is a very kind gesture from Hyatt. However, little is known about how Hyatt will actually execute the policy. For example, how does Hyatt classify an existing customer to a certain region? If someone lives in the United States but travel to Asia a lot for business, does this new policy still apply?
So far there is no clear answer, but multiple sources suggest that the classification will follow one of the three criteria:
- The account’s address falls into the Asia Pacific region, though how Hyatt defines Asia Pacific in this case remains unclear.
- If no address is available, the language preference was Chinese, Japanese, or Korean at the time of account opening.
- The account registration was via WeChat mini-app.
There are also rumors that Hyatt will evaluate the situation and expand the policy to those who frequent Asia but have their account registered elsewhere, per FlyerTea user yinw2013:
We are working to evaluate tier and benefit extensions for members not currently living in the Greater China area who travel frequently to the Asia Pacific region. We will notifiy you by March 31 if this applies to you.
You can change your address if you’d like, however, it will not have an impact on this, as we are evaluating accounts based off information that was on the accounts before we made this announcement.
Note this is a transcript from Facebook and nothing official, though. Hyatt announced that qualified members will receive notification about their status individually. Our blog has contributors from China and will certainly report back once any update becomes available.
Below is the official statement from Hyatt (a screenshot in Chinese):
3. Hilton’s policy
Hilton is the latest to announce status extension for its members. If you are a Hilton Honor member in the Greater China area as of Feb 19th, the following policy shall apply:
- Those who did not retain their status in 2019 will have their status renewed to March 31st, 2021.
- Those who did re-qualify their status in 2019 will have their status extended to March 31st, 2022.
- Points will not expire for members in Greater China.
All in all this is very positive changes. In fact, Hilton is the only chain that offers extension to those who did not achieve elite status in 2019. Kudos to them!
Below is a screenshot from the Hilton’s official channel explaining this policy.
4. Marriott’s policy
As of now (Feb 19th) no official statement is yet available from Marriott, but they might eventually come up with similar policies. This is undoubtedly uncertain times, so it is nice to such a policy from hotel chains.
Marriott on Feb 21st finally announced its extension policy in light of the coronavirus outbreak. If your Bonvoy account address is in Greater China as of Feb 1st, you will receive an extension of elite status of 12 months. This means that those who qualify in 2019 now will have their status valid through Feb, 2022.
In addition, Suite Night Awards and Free Night Awards will be extended for another year as well. Now they will expire on Dec 31, 2021.
While Marriott is the last among the four major hotel chains to announce policies like this, it still deserves credit.