You can earn Air Canada elite status from your couch — here’s how
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information about the Air Canada Aeroplan buy-miles promotion launching May 7.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak and the associated drop in demand for travel, we’ve seen airlines make unprecedented moves. Aside from parking their fleets and cut their route network, all major U.S. carriers have made significant updates to their loyalty programs.
For one, American, Delta and United have all extended elite status through Jan. 31, 2022. But that’s not all. Many carriers have introduced interesting and creative offers to get customers to engage with the programs — and spend on their cobranded credit cards.
But it’s our neighbor up north that’s been leading the trend in terms of devising these innovative offers. It all started on April 6, when Air Canada announced sweeping elite status extensions. As part of the offer, Air Canada elites who requalify for elite status in 2020 can share elite status with a friend or family member for free — one of the more unique aspects of these announcements.
The carrier also announced another creative — and generous — promotion for all Aeroplan members. The promotion is broken down by whether you’re a current elite member, so let’s start by assuming you’re not.
Earn Air Canada Altitude Prestige 25K without flying
If you’re currently just a casual flyer or member of Aeroplan, chances are you’re not an elite member with the airline. Well, for the first time ever, you can now earn entry-level Altitude Prestige 25K status without doing any flying.
Between April 20 and May 31, all you need to do is earn 50,000 Aeroplan miles from almost any source, and you’ll be granted the status for the duration of 2021. This includes miles earned from points transfers from Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles and Marriott Bonvoy, those earned from cobranded credit card spend and sign-up bonuses, and miles earned from the Aeroplan online shopping portal (the Aeroplan eStore).
Note that Aeroplan is offering an incredible sale on purchased miles from May 7 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time through May 13 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. As part of this offer, you have the opportunity to acquire miles at the lowest-ever cost of 1 cent each, but note that only 50% of the Aeroplan Miles you purchase (including any bonus miles earned) will count towards this promotion.
What’s Air Canada Altitude Prestige 25K status worth?
In my mind, this is an incredibly generous offer to drive engagement with the program while travelers are stuck at home. Unfortunately, however, the Altitude Prestige 25K status isn’t particularly rewarding, especially if you’re based in the U.S. and fly with the airline’s Star Alliance partner, United.
When flying Air Canada, you get priority reservation support (which I’d love after spending over three hours on the phone with the airline), priority seat selection, priority airport services, two free checked bags, two Maple Leaf Lounge one-time passes, 20 eUpgrade credits and more. Additionally, this status tier confers Star Alliance Silver status, which can be enjoyed when flying on any Star Alliance carrier, including United.
As mentioned, however, Star Alliance Silver status isn’t too rewarding, though it offers priority airport standby and reservations waitlist.
The one real benefit that may be worthwhile for U.S.-based members is the carrier surcharge waiver on award tickets for flights operated by Air Canada for domestic Canadian and transborder flights. If you frequently redeem your Aeroplan miles for such flights, the savings could add up.
On this sample one-way flight from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, you’d save the 34.50 Canadian dollar ($24.43) surcharge.
Even though this isn’t the most lucrative promotion, I’m a big fan of the creativity here. If you occasionally fly with Air Canada, this is definitely a worthwhile offer to consider. Perhaps you’d clear some upgrades on domestic Canadian and transborder flights, and the airport priority and free bags can add up.
How to maximize the Air Canada elite status promotion
If you’re based in the U.S. and don’t really fly with Air Canada, then you may think to skip this offer. However, think twice because there’s a really interesting way to maximize it.
If you’re making a points transfer anyway (or want to top off your account), then you might as well do it during the promotional window to earn the Altitude Prestige 25K status. For 55,000 Aeroplan miles, you have a one-way business-class award to Europe, as well as Altitude Prestige 25K status.
Plus, if you purchase miles during the carrier’s best sale ever, you can get halfway to Altitude 25K status.
And even if you never fly with Air Canada, you can use this status to enroll in a match or challenge with another airline — once you’re able to start traveling again.
For example, you could match Prestige 25K to Alaska’s MVP status — which would be valid for three months and could be extended by flying 5,000 miles. This Air Canada tier also maps to Delta Silver Medallion status, so this could be a nice shortcut to status for anyone based in a Delta hub.
By matching the Air Canada status to other U.S.-based airlines, you can actually get status that’s more valuable, plus a business-class ticket to Europe all with just 55,000 miles!
Earn higher Air Canada Altitude status without flying
This promotion only gets more interesting. If you’re a current Air Canada elite, Aeroplan has an offer to boost your status.
There are five different thresholds to pass, each with a different bonus. Every Aeroplan mile earned during the promotional period (April 20 to May 31) counts, except for those purchased directly from Aeroplan (in which case only 50% of those miles qualify). And the promo is cumulative, so if you earn 250,000 Aeroplan miles, you get all the gifts outlined above.
Frankly, if you’re an Air Canada elite seeking higher status, this is an awesome promo. I’d definitely consider earning at least 250,000 Aeroplan miles since the Elite 75K status level is quite rewarding. It’s Air Canada’s second-highest elite tier, and includes many more benefits than the lower levels. Plus, it includes Star Alliance Gold status, which affords you access to United Clubs whenever you fly, regardless of destination.
Note, however, that you can’t double dip by becoming an Altitude Prestige 25K in the aforementioned offer, and then partake in this status boost offer.
Though flyers around the world are grounded, Air Canada is out with an interesting — and potentially lucrative — offer to engage its loyalty members. If you’re not currently an Air Canada elite, you can earn Altitude Prestige 25K status — which includes Star Alliance Silver — simply from a mileage transfer. And if you’re already an Air Canada elite, you can boost your status by earning Aeroplan miles.
Even if you don’t engage much with the Aeroplan program, hopefully we’ll see other airlines match and introduce similar offers from their loyalty programs.
All photos by the author.
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