Air New Zealand frequent flyer statuses to be extended, but recognition upgrades will still expire

Many upgrades have gone unused due to COVID-19.
Many upgrades have gone unused due to COVID-19. Photo credit: Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand's frequent flyers will have their membership status extended by a further 12-months, however they can say goodbye to any unused recognition upgrades.

The airline says the status of Airpoints Elite, Gold and Silver members will remain until 2023 as a result of the impact COVID-19 is having on travel, but the airline's website says recognition upgrades will expire on their original expiry date.

Air NZ's general manager of loyalty Kate O'Brien says the airline is pleased to ensure members will hold their existing tier status for an additional year.

"We appreciate travel in 2020 isn't what any of our frequent flyers were expecting or prepared for and as a result they have had fewer opportunities to maintain their tier status.  

"We had fantastic feedback and messages of support following the extension announced earlier this year and this further 12-month extension will help eligible members protect their current status for longer," O'Brien said.

However, expiry dates on any recognition upgrades which are given out as part of the Airpoints programme won't be extended, despite also being affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In a statement to Newshub, Air NZ said anyone whose upgrade is expiring will still be able to benefit from the additional extention to their tier level.

"We have provided a whole new year of membership at the same tier level, with the same number of benefits to be used. Recognition Upgrades have a lifespan of 12 months and are renewed each year. Our members will continue to receive their allocated recognition upgrades with this extension," a spokesperson said.

Each year, upgrades are given to members depending on their status level.

Elite members receive two recognition upgrades and one elite short haul recognition upgrade, Gold members receive two full recognition upgrades  and Silver members receive one full recognition upgrade.

A recognition upgrade allows the member to request an upgrade of one class level. From economy to premium economy, or premium economy to business class for example.

Recognition upgrades expire within 12-months if not used, and many frequent flyers have been flying less frequently, especially on flights where upgrades are often used, such as Auckland to Los Angeles, during COVID-19.