Airlines are desperately hoping to hold on to your loyalty when international travel finally takes off again, and Middle East rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways have just announced new status extensions for their frequent flyers.

Emirates offering full 12-month status extension for Skywards members

With travel restrictions still in place due to COVID-19, Emirates says it wants to offer its frequent flyers "greater reassurance", and the chance to retain their elite tier status until 2022.

The Dubai-based carrier claims to be one of the first airlines in the world, and the first in the region, to offer its Skywards members a 12-month extension on all tier status reviews scheduled for 2021.

Skywards Silver and Gold members with a tier review date prior to December 31, 2021 will have their current tier status extended by an additional 12 months. Platinum members will also have their current tier status extended by 12 months, in addition to the Gold status of any nominee.

If, for example, your current tier review date is March 31, 2021, your new tier review date will be pushed to March 31, 2022.

As a reminder, Emirates has revised its booking policies to offer customers more generous re-booking terms and options. Customers who buy a ticket for travel on or before June 30, 2021 can change their travel dates or extend their ticket validity for two years.

I was recently able to cancel a business class flight from London to Dubai, and get a full refund, with no questions asked. I was warned it might take up to three months for the money to be returned to my account - but it actually hit within a week or so of my cancellation.

Click here to check out what it’s like flying first class on Emirates’ Boeing 777 (new and old cabins).

Qatar Airways extends members’ status - but only for 2021

Qatar Airways has come up with its own status extension for Privilege Club members - but there’s a snag.

Silver, Gold and Platinum members whose tier is due to end this year (but have not earned enough Qpoints to retain it) will only see their status extended until the end of 2021, which is a problem for those with deadlines close to the end of the year.

Highlighting the shortcomings of the new offer, one Privilege Club member complained on Flyertalk: “My Platinum expires end of November this year (and I did requalify for that date with earned points). So an extension till end of December is not something really great, from my point of view.”

In terms of flexibility for future travel, Qatar Airways is offering passengers unlimited date changes and free refunds for tickets issued before April 30, 2021, for travel completed by December 31, 2021.

Summing up

With global travel at record low levels, Emirates and Qatar Airways are offering status extensions in the hope their frequent flyers stick with them when the good times come back.

Emirates seems to have the more generous offer as it’s offering a full 12-month extension, whereas Qatar is only maintaining your status until the end of 2021.

Are you a member of Emirates Skywards or Qatar Airways Privilege Club? What do you make of the new status extensions?