Aeroplan Elite Status is Air Canada’s program for its most frequent flyers. Previously known as Air Canada Altitude, it was revamped to coincide with the rollout of the new Aeroplan program in November 2020.
This post will guide you through the elite program, how to qualify for Aeroplan Elite Status, and the privileges that come with each tier.
As the prospect of travel becomes more realistic, you may find yourself en route to Aeroplan Elite Status with all of the revenge travel you have planned both near and far.
How to Qualify for Aeroplan Elite Status
Qualifying for Aeroplan Elite Status depends on three factors:
- Status Qualifying Miles (SQM)
- Status Qualifying Segments (SQS)
- Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD)
You reach the various status tiers by reaching minimum levels of SQM or SQS, in addition to SQD, through your flying activity.
Status Qualifying Miles
SQM are earned as a percentage of the actual distance flown and on the fare purchased. The destination to which you fly (within Canada, United States, Sun Destinations, or International) also plays a small role in the SQM earned.
(The amount of Aeroplan points you earn on a flight largely mirrors the amount of SQM earned, although it’s important to point out that these are two very different things.)
Status Qualifying Segments
SQS are determined by the amount of actual flight segments you have on a particular booking. For example, if you fly from St. John’s to Toronto on a direct flight, you earn 1 SQS, but if you were to fly via Montreal, you would earn 2 SQS. In some cases, it can be worthwhile to book milk-run routes in order to earn more SQS.
A new feature of the Aeroplan Elite Status program is being able to earn SQM and SQS with an eligible c0-branded credit card: you’ll earn 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $5,000 spent on a premium Aeroplan credit card or every $10,000 spent on a core or small business Aeroplan credit card. If you tend to be a big spender, you’ll be rewarded with easier qualification for Elite Status.
Status Qualifying Dollars
SQD are earned based on the amount of base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges paid for your flight. You can also earn SQD on Star Alliance airlines ticketed on Air Canada 014 stock, Flight Pass purchases, and on eUpgrade add-on fees.
SQD are posted after the date flown, not on the date of purchase. There is currently no other way to earn SQD (e.g., through credit card spending) other than by spending it on flights.
With the revamped program, there are still five Aeroplan Elite Status tiers: 25K, 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite. To obtain status, you need to fulfill either the SQM or SQS requirements, in addition to the corresponding SQD requirement, in a calendar year.
For example, to reach Aeroplan 35K status, you need to either obtain 35,000 SQM or 35 SQS in a calendar year, as well as reach a minimum SQD of $4,000.
Note that the SQD requirement is halved for those residing outside of Canada. So, someone who lives in the United States would only have to reach an annual SQD of $10,000, as well as the corresponding SQM or SQS requirement, to reach Aeroplan Super Elite status.
Another new feature is Everyday Status Qualification: you can earn Aeroplan 25K status without ever having set foot on a plane.
If you earn 100,000 Aeroplan points in a calendar year through eligible sources, you’ll receive Aeroplan 25K Status. The points you earn from spending on a co-branded Aeroplan credit card, flying with Air Canada and partner airlines, and earning through travel and retail partners such as the Aeroplan eStore all count.
Once you have reached Aeroplan Elite Status for a given year, you will enjoy it through to the end of the next calendar year.
For example, if you qualify for Aeroplan 50K status in August 2021, you’ll enjoy the status benefits through to December 31, 2022.
For 2021, Air Canada has granted all Aeroplan Elite Status members a blanket extension through to the end of 2022, with members’ 2021 flying activity helping them get a head start towards attaining or renewing their status in 2022 instead.
Core Privileges and Select Privileges
Now that we have explored how to qualify for Aeroplan Elite Status, let’s explore what you get for all of your hard work. There are two sets of perks that are available to Aeroplan Elite Status members: Core Privileges and Select Privileges.
Core Privileges do not need to be selected. Depending on the tier that you reach, you are automatically afforded a range of perks. The full range of Core Privileges can be found on the Aeroplan Elite Status page, and the main ones will be highlighted in the discussion below.
Select Privileges, however, are bundles of options that must be selected by each Aeroplan Elite Status member once per year. There are two sets of bundles to choose from, with Bundle 1 having a broader range of benefits and Bundle 2 pertaining to Flight Pass activity only. For this article, I won’t be discussing Bundle 2 in detail.
Select Privileges must be chosen by October 31 each year. To choose them, login to your Aeroplan account, select the “Benefits” tab, and then proceed with your selections. If you neglect to select them by the deadline, you will forfeit them for the remainder of the benefit validity period.
The lowest status tier, Aeroplan 25K, is reached by earning either 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS, as well as a minimum of $3,000 SQD in a calendar year. While the range of perks is limited as compared to higher tiers, there is definitely value to be found, especially since you can reach this tier without flying at all.
Beginning with this level, you’ll enjoy a number of priority services with Air Canada: front-of-the-line call centre access, the ability to select seats at the front of the economy cabin, a separate check-in at the airport, and boarding the plane before most people.
Further, if a flight is full, you’ll have priority standby over others without status if you have purchased an eligible fare.
You’ll also enjoy two free 23kg checked bags on Air Canada flights and complimentary handling of your sports equipment. So, for your winter ski trips or your summer cycle or surf trips, you won’t have to shell out extra money to bring your beloved gear with you.
20 eUpgrades will automatically be deposited into your account to upgrade to a higher class of service on a booking. We have written extensively about this complex program, and I encourage you to review the information to maximize the value you can get from them.
If you earn a Priority Reward, it will be valid for use on economy class bookings in Canada and the United States.
You’ll also get Star Alliance Silver status. This extends your priority reservations waitlist and priority airport standby benefits to other Star Alliance partners, but doesn’t really offer much else.
For Select Privileges, Aeroplan Elite 25K members have the option of choosing two of the following from Bundle 1:
- 25% bonus Aeroplan points with Air Canada and select airline partners
- 5 additional eUpgrade credits
- 2 Maple Leaf Lounge one-time guest passes
From these, I consider the best options to be the 25% bonus Aeroplan points and the five eUpgrade credits. If you tend to fly on points rather than on paid tickets, though, perhaps the Maple Leaf Lounge passes would be a better option.
Aeroplan 35K is reached when you obtain 35,000 SQM or 35 SQS, as well as a minimum of $4,000 SQD in a calendar year. In addition to the aforementioned Core Privileges for 25K, there are a few additional perks that come with 35K.
At this level, members enjoy priority security clearance via dedicated lanes in many airports worldwide. While this can also be obtained with a business class ticket or by holding a premium credit card, it can be a very useful perk when flying during peak travel season or in providing a streamlined travel experience.
Aeroplan 35K members also enjoy unlimited complimentary access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges for domestic and transborder travel to the United States. Two Maple Leaf Lounge one-time passes are also deposited to your Aeroplan account, and these may be transferred to anyone of your choosing.
Your complimentary baggage allowance also increases to three checked bags at 32kg each. This can be a big money saver if you’re moving across the country or if you tend to travel with a lot of luggage.
For Select Privileges, 35K members can choose one of the following from Bundle 1:
- 35% bonus Aeroplan points with Air Canada and select airline partners
- 10 eUpgrade credits
I would consider the 10 eUpgrade credits to be the best option here. As we have discussed in detail, eUpgrades can be of consider value if used strategically, and I think that most 35K members would get better value out of this option.
Aeroplan 50K is reached when you earn 50,000 SQM or 50 SQS, as well as at least $6,000 SQD. If you are a member of the Air Canada Million Miler program, you’ll also enjoy this status for the rest of your life no matter how little or how much you fly.
In addition to the aforementioned Core Privileges for 25K and 35K members, 50K gives you Star Alliance Gold status.
This extends many of your elite privileges when you’re flying with other Star Alliance airlines, including priority airport check-in, baggage handling, boarding, and access to all Star Alliance lounges worldwide for yourself and one guest.
For Maple Leaf Lounges, you can invite immediate family members and one guest at no charge. This also includes access to the Air Canada Cafe at Toronto Pearson, which (when it opens again) offers far superior coffee than its domestic lounge counterpart.
50K and above members will enjoy complimentary Preferred Seats on Flex fares and above with Air Canada flights within North America. This affords you a bit of extra legroom and access to the front of the economy cabin without any extra charges.
If you earn a Priority Reward, it is now valid towards travel in economy class or premium economy within North America and to Sun destinations.
For Select Privileges, 50K members can choose two of the following from Bundle 1:
- 50% bonus Aeroplan points with Air Canada and select airline partners
- 20 eUpgrade credits
- Lower requalification level
- 2 Status Passes
With these benefits, I’d consider the 50% bonus Aeroplan points and the 20 eUpgrade credits as the best options. After all, if you’re flying 50,000 or more miles per year, a 50% bonus isn’t insignificant, while the 20 eUpgrades carry undeniable value.
Status Passes may be a good option to give to a group of people travelling on the same booking, but personally (and maybe selfishly), I find better value in the other two options.
At 50K, you’ll also have access to Threshold eUpgrades and gifts. These are earned when you reach cross an additional SQM or SQS threshold between tiers.
For example, after reaching 60,000 SQM or 60 SQS, you’ll receive an additional 10 eUpgrades, 2,500 rollover SQM, and 2,500 bonus Aeroplan points. There are further Threshold Gifts at various levels, and full details can be found on the Air Canada website.
The second-highest tier, Aeroplan 75K, is reached when you earn 75,000 SQM or 75 SQS, as well as at least $9,000 SQD in a calendar year. While the benefits for 75K largely mirror those of 50K members, there are a few additional perks in which some people may find extra value.
75K members enjoy complimentary preferred seats on Flex fares in all markets. For you and anyone else travelling on the same Air Canada reservation, you can select these seats at no cost.
For 75K and Super Elite status holders, Air Canada will guarantee an economy class seat for you and one travel companion on any Air Canada flight booked in a full-fare economy (“Y” booking class) at least six hours prior to departure.
Guaranteeing you a seat means that someone else will be denied boarding. This comes at an additional cost to Air Canada under Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations, EU261, or under the Montreal Convention. You’ll be en route to where you need to be, albeit at a cost to you (with a full-fare ticket) and to the airline (in having to pay compensation to the denied passenger).
At this level, your Priority Rewards are valid towards travel in economy class and premium economy worldwide.
For Select Privileges, 75K members can choose two of the following six options from Bundle 1:
- 75% bonus Aeroplan points with Air Canada and select airline partners
- 35 eUpgrade credits
- Lower requalification level
- Aeroplan 35K status for a friend
- 12-month Wi-Fi plan
- 3 Status Passes
The Select Privileges here get a bit more interesting. Prior to choosing them, it would be wise to review your past, current, and future travel plans to see where you can extract the most value.
Personally, I’d be inclined to select the 75% bonus Aeroplan points and the 35 eUpgrade credits, as I think I would get the most value from those. But, I can also see value with the 35K status for a friend or the 12-month WiFi plan options, too.
Gifting 35K status could be put to good use for someone who flies frequently throughout the year, perhaps separately from you. If you tend to work when you fly, the Wi-Fi pass would save you around $800 as compared to buying a monthly plan. And if you know a group of people travelling together, the Status Passes could help them elevate their travel experience and save money on baggage fees, too.
Aeroplan Super Elite
Air Canada’s highest status (that can be earned) is Aeroplan Super Elite. It is obtained by earning 100,000 SQM or 100 SQS, as well as earning at least $20,000 SQD in a calendar year.
In addition to all aforementioned benefits, Super Elites are afforded several additional perks for being the airline’s most loyal customers:
- For Core Privileges, Super Elites get complimentary preferred seats on all fares anywhere Air Canada flies.
- Super Elites and one guest can also access the Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow.
- With Aeroplan bookings, you can enjoy free cancellation and free changes to any bookings. While Aeroplan’s generous change and cancellation policy due to COVID-19 is currently accessible to anyone, Super Elites will continue to enjoy this perk once Aeroplan moves back to its regular change and cancellation policy.
- A new perk for Super Elites is receiving a free beverage (including alcohol) and a free snack when travelling in economy class on Air Canada flights.
Further, your Priority Rewards are valid towards travel in business class on any Star Alliance airline worldwide. We’ve outlined how to maximize this perk in detail, and it can indeed be a very powerful and valuable benefit.
Perhaps the most intriguing benefit for Super Elites is the Concierge service. These employees offer personalized, proactive service to Super Elites, which includes handling special requests, proactively monitoring flight cancellations and connections, and ensuring your travel experience is as comfortable as possible.
We have heard from some Super Elites who have remarked at the lengths to which the Concierge has gone to assist. This includes digging through the bowels of airports to locate missing luggage, holding up planes so they can make a tight connection, and developing a personalized experience unavailable to most travellers.
For Select Privileges, Super Elites can choose two of the following six options from Bundle 1:
- 100% bonus Aeroplan points with Air Canada and select airline partners
- 50 eUpgrade credits
- Lower requalification level
- Aeroplan 50K status for a friend
- 12-month Wi-Fi plan
- 4 Status Passes
As with the Select Privileges for 75K members, the best value will depend on your individual preferences. Aeroplan points will accumulate very quickly with a 100% bonus. 50 eUpgrade credits can save you thousands of dollars. 50K status is a very generous gift for a friend or family member, too.
For my work at a travel agency, we have a lot of Super Elites, and I have the pleasure of assisting with consulting for their elite benefits. The majority of them decide to go with 100% bonus Aeroplan points and 50 eUpgrade credits, but I have also selected many of the other options if they are a better fit for the traveller.
Air Canada’s revamped Aeroplan Elite Status program rewards its most frequent travellers with a variety of perks and privileges. Core Privileges offer a range of priority services and enhanced travel options, while the Select Privileges cater to individual preferences.
I find the most value with the benefits in eUpgrades, lounge access, complimentary checked bags, Priority Rewards, and priority services at the airport. As a lowly 35K, I have yet to experience what the Concierge service has to offer, but I imagine that some will be particularly fond of this perk.
Ricky and I have often mused about whether or not it’s worth it to pursue status. Ricky argues that many of the perks that come with status can be obtained by flying in business class, so there’s not really much added value for someone who is invested in the Miles & Points world and has points to burn.
For those who travel often on paid tickets for work or for pleasure, though, I believe it’s worthwhile to pursue status to recuperate some of your money. Plus, showing off that bag-tag swagger comes with its own prestige, too.
If you have Aeroplan Elite Status, where do you find the most value? Do you go on mileage runs to maintain your status? Feel free to share your thoughts or stories below, in the Prince of Travel Elites Facebook group, or on the Prince of Travel Club Lounge on Discord.