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Air Canada Adds a Revenue Requirement for 2017 Elite Status

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Update: Air Canada has reduced the revenue requirement for frequent flyers based outside Canada by 50%. So you’ll need to spend $10,000 CAD rather than $20,000 CAD to reach top-tier Super Elite 100K status. That’s great news for US-based Air Canada elites!

Here’s the airline’s update regarding this change:

For non-Canadian residents, the Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) will be 50% lower than the published amounts found in the chart above. Proof of address may be requested in order to apply non-Canadian resident AQD requirements. For eligible members, the AQD tracker at will be updated to reflect these new lowered requirements by March 1, 2016.

Well, you can blame Delta for this, too. Back in 2013, Delta made a bold move — it became the first legacy carrier to introduce a revenue requirement for earning elite status. Then, a few months later, United followed suit. Miraculously, American has opted to leave out the requirement from its 2016 AAdvantage program, but our neighbors to the north aren’t so lucky when it comes to their flagship carrier.

Yes, beginning next year, Air Canada will start tracking what it’s calling “Altitude Qualifying Dollars,” or AQDs. If you’re looking to qualify for status in 2017 (based on 2016 flying), be prepared to shell out some seriously big bucks, especially for top-tier Super Elite 100K status. Considering the Aeroplan devaluation scheduled for next month as well, Air Canada elites aren’t exactly ending 2015 on a high note.

Air Canada's new revenue requirement for status.
Air Canada’s new revenue requirement for status.

As you can see above, the requirements are fairly reasonable for lower-level status (especially considering that those are Canadian dollars), but a $20,000 (CAD) requirement for Super Elite 100K status is ambitiously high. That’s roughly $15,000 US based on today’s exchange rate — on par with Delta’s latest requirement for Diamond status.

As with Delta and United, AQDs will be awarded to the traveler, not the person purchasing the ticket. You’ll earn AQDs from January 1 through December 31 of each year, and mileage or segment requirements will need to be met as well. You’ll be able to earn AQDs on all flights operated by Air Canada and its subsidiaries, along with those operated by Star Alliance partners but issued by Air Canada (ticket numbers starting with 014). Flight Pass and eUpgrade purchases will count as well, though certain “specialty” tickets won’t, such as those issued as part of an Air Canada Vacations package.

As Air Canada says in its program announcement, “These changes reflect similar requirements in other global frequent flyer programs and will ensure that we continue to better recognize our most valued customers.”

Will these requirements impact your ability to earn Air Canada elite status?

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