Delta Airlines
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Delta Air Lines launched a new initiative on Wednesday that will help passengers regain their frequent flier status after a significant life event has forced them to take a ground stop.

Reclaim Your Status will allow Delta Medallion passengers to report extenuating life circumstances that have affected their travel plans, such as an illness, a new job or becoming a new parent.

“We’re always looking for new ways to take care of our customers and that includes injecting even more empathy into travel,” Sandeep Dube, senior vice president of customer engagement and loyalty and CEO of Delta Vacations, told Travel + Leisure. “Our members have been loyal to us and we need to be there for them when they need something from us. Loyalty goes both ways.”

Say a passenger has a child and takes time out from their normal travel. Those months at home may put frequent flier status in jeopardy for the next year. With Reclaim Your Status, a passenger would contact Delta when they are ready to begin flying again and report their life event.

If appproved, the passenger will then have three months to begin flying with the frequency they once were. If they prove that they meet the frequency requirements of their loyalty tier, their status will be extended through the following year. (For example, a passenger who enrolls in Reclaim My Status and meets requirements by December 31, 2019 will have their Medallion status extended through January 31, 2021.)

The term “major life event” is flexible and open to interpretation, extending to anything from pursuing a new degree to falling ill or needing to care for a loved one. Any Medallion member who believes that they have experienced a significant life event is encouraged to contact the airline.

Most members who apply to reconsider status will hear back from a Delta representative within five business days. The program applies to all Medallion customers, regardless of status.

Dube said that the parameters of the program were created using direct feedback from customers.

The general cap of Reclaim My Status is limited to once every three years, but Delta will consider each customer on a case-by-case basis and wouldn't, for example, turn away a parent who had two children within three years.

“After a life event happens, whether happy or sad, getting back into travel can be quite stressful,” Dube told T+L. “We want our members to feel empowered during that transition and get back on track with their travel as quickly as possible, and experience the same benefits as they did before the life event happened.”

The airline is calling the program an industry-leading initiative, as other U.S. airlines do not have published policy around reclaiming frequent flier status. Other airlines may have similar programs but they are generally determined on a case-by-case basis.

“We understand our members go through major life events that may impact their travel schedules and we ask that they reach out to us when this happens,” an American Airlines spokesperson told T+L. “We review them with our members individually and on a case-by-case basis.”