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New parents know that having a child can temporarily slow down your travel plans! Especially if you take parental leave from a job that normally requires a lot of flying.
If you don’t maintain your usual level of travel, you could lose your airline elite status. But via Head for Points, there are a handful of airlines which will allow you suspend or “hold” your elite status while you take parental leave.
I’ll explain how it works!
Airlines Which Allow You to Suspend Elite Status When You Have a Baby
Link: Iberia Plus
Link: Virgin Atlantic
Iberia recently introduced a parental leave policy which allows new parents (moms and dads!) to keep their Iberia elite status for up to one year even if they don’t fly as often.
If you are pregnant, have recently given birth or are in the process of adopting a child, you won’t lose your Iberia Plus level even though you take fewer flights during the year.
To extend the validity of your card for an additional period, all you need to do is prove that you are on maternity leave by emailing a copy of your medical report or maternity leave certificate (also valid for the other parent) to email@example.com. Once we have verified your document, we will destroy it for your safety and will send you an email confirming the renewal of your card level.
Although Iberia and British Airways are part of the same company, British Airways does NOT have a similar policy.
Qantas allows Gold, Silver, and Platinum elite members to put their status on hold for up to 18 months. If you’re taking a minimum of 6 months leave from paid employment, you can apply.
According to Qantas, you may be eligible for a status hold if you’re:
- A parent of a baby or babies that are due to be born within the next three months or were born in the last six months
- A foster parent who will be caring for a child within the next three months or who has started caring for a child within the last six months
- A parent who will be adopting a child within the next three months or who has adopted a child within the last six months
You’ll also have to provide proof, like a birth certificate or letter from your doctor, and documentation from your employer confirming your parental leave.
3. Virgin Atlantic
Gold and silver elite Virgin Atlantic flyers can apply for a status hold by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll have to provide documentation. Virgin Atlantic says:
Please note that in order to extend membership, we require a hospital letter, newborn birth certificate, or personal hospital booklet.
The policy isn’t as clearly outlined, but the terms suggest you can extend your status for the duration of your parental leave. Either parent can apply.
Is This Fair?
I’m not aware of any US airline with a similar policy. I suspect part of the reason is that the US doesn’t provide the same generous parental leaves as other countries.
Some might argue extending elite status without a flying requirement puts parents at an unfair advantage. And that folks who take time off flying for other reasons, like illness or caring for a sick family member, should also be entitled to a similar benefit.
It doesn’t really cost the airlines anything to allow folks to suspend their status for the duration of their parental leave. And it creates goodwill and promotes loyalty at little to no cost.
I hope more airlines follow suit!
Iberia, Qantas, and Virgin Atlantic allow new parents to put their elite status on “hold” while they take maternity or paternity leave. That way, they don’t lose elite status because they’re not flying as often for the duration of parental leave.
I like to see family-friendly airline policies! But some folks argue these policies should be extended to elite members who stop flying for other reasons, like illness.
Do you think American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and others will add parental-leave flexibility to their frequent flyer programs?