Following on from the first installment, in which we looked at the rough valuations of Aeroplan 25K, 35K, and 50K status, today let’s finish by looking at the two highest status tiers: Aeroplan 75K and Aeroplan Super Elite.
In This Post
Reminder: How I Think About These Valuations
Just like last time, it’s worth mentioning that all of the elite benefits have a subjective value depending on the specific individual and their travel habits and preferences.
I’ll be approaching these valuations from the perspective of the average Prince of Travel reader who books both economy and business tickets using a mix of points and cash, while following certain rules of thumb such as:
Endeavouring to redeem miles for flying in business class on international flights, whenever possible
Being happy to travel in economy class within North America and save their miles for more valuable redemptions internationally
Travelling relatively frequently, to the tune of, say, three international round-trip flights and five North American round-trip flights per year
Depending on how often you travel and which classes of service you book, you might scale the valuations up or down (for example, business class tickets often overlap with elite benefits, so if you’re an economy flyer then you’d value the benefits more).
Based on the methodology above, we had already arrived at the following rough valuations in Part 1:
- Aeroplan 25K: $2,020
- Aeroplan 35K: $3,155
- Aeroplan 50K: $4,680
We’ll now use these as a basis to value the benefits of Aeroplan 75K and Super Elite.
Aeroplan 75K: Marginal Extra Benefits
Aeroplan 75K is the penultimate status tier with Air Canada. 75K members are treated to all of the benefits of 50K status and below, which we had valued in the previous installment at $4,680 per year.
We’ll build on this valuation as we consider the incremental benefits of Aeroplan 75K.
Guaranteed reservations in full-fare economy class
This benefit allows Aeroplan 75K members to guarantee seats for themselves and a companion when a flight is fully booked or oversold.
When you take advantage of this benefit, other passengers will be bumped off the flight to accommodate you and your companion.
The catch is that you must book a full-fare economy class ticket in the “Y” booking class, which is often many times more expensive than the cheapest fare bucket, and one that leisure travellers rarely book.
Indeed, this benefit is most useful to business travellers who must be on a certain flight, so I’d say that most leisure travellers would not value the benefit at all. $0 it is.
Complimentary preferred seats on all Flex fares
Securing exit-row seats with extra legroom at no additional cost can definitely be valuable on long-haul international flights, but the requirement to book in Flex fare buckets (which are usually a small percentage more expensive than the cheapest Tango fares) dilutes the value somewhat.
Still, considering that a preferred seat can cost up to $199 in certain markets, I’d peg the value at $100/year on average, even if the benefit isn’t used very often.
75K Select Benefits
Aeroplan Elite Status members get to choose Select Benefits every year that are over and above the Core Benefits that they receive.
As a 75K member, you get to choose 2 out of 6 among the following:
- 35 extra eUpgrade credits (on top of the 20 eUpgrade credits that all status members receive)
- Gifting Aeroplan 35K status for a friend
- 12-month Aeroplan Elite Wi-Fi Plan
- Three Status Passes
- 75% bonus Aeroplan points on your paid flights with Air Canada and select Star Alliance partners
- A lower requalification level the following year
Here’s where the most meaningful benefits of Aeroplan 75K kick in, although it may be tough to select only two of these benefits.
eUpgrades are quite valuable now that they can be used to confirm a business class upgrade in conjunction with Latitude Economy award fares. In a previous in-depth valuation exercise, we had arrived at a valuation of $60/eUpgrade credit when redeemed in this fashion.
Since 75K members would receive 55 eUpgrade credits in total, which is 15 more than the 40 eUpgrade credits that 50K members receive, the incremental value of 15 eUpgrades is 15 × $60 = $900.
The other possible Select Benefits are more subjective in their valuation, and the ideal choice will depend on each individual elite member’s unique needs. Among them, I’d consider the Wi-Fi plan, the Status Passes, and the gift of Aeroplan 35K status to offer the most tangible benefit.
A 12-month wifi plan could easily be worth $150 or more, if you’d like to use the onboard wifi whenever you’re flying with Air Canada.
When valuing the benefits of Aeroplan 50K, we had estimated a fair value of $100 per Status Pass, especially considering the satisfaction of bestowing valuable benefits upon our closest loved ones. Since 75K members get three Status Passes, one more than 50K members’ two, the incremental value here is $100.
But how do we value the benefit of being able to gift Aeroplan 35K status to a friend? We had previously valued the benefits of 35K status at $3,155/year, but that’s how much they’d be worth to the friend, not to you as a current Aeroplan 75K member.
In the absence of any better valuation techniques, we can say that you’d get some level of satisfaction out of gifting elite status that would be proportional to the value of your gift.
Let’s call it 10%, giving us a valuation of roughly $315 for the gift of Aeroplan 35K, which I think matches up pretty closely with what I’d pay someone to be chosen as their Aeroplan 35K designee (not that buying and selling the elite status gift is allowed, of course). 😉
Taking the two most highly-valued options of eUpgrades and 35K status for a friend as our Select Benefits, we have a total of $900 + $315 = $1,215 for the year.
75K Priority Rewards
As a 75K member, you are likely to have earned two Priority Reward vouchers (since 75K requires 9,000 SQD, whereas a second Priority Reward voucher is unlocked upon reaching 7,000 SQD).
You also now have the ability to redeem your Priority Reward voucher on economy class and premium economy flights to all destinations worldwide.
The optimal redemption is to book a premium economy flight to Europe or Asia, which can price out anywhere in the range of 50,000–140,000 points round-trip (thus saving you 25,000–70,000 points).
(Remember, sometimes premium economy ends up being either surprisingly cheap or surprisingly expensive under Aeroplan’s dynamic pricing model, too, which can skew the calculations here.)
Take into consideration the ability to combine a 50%-discounted Aeroplan redemption with eUpgrades to upgrade into business class, and let’s call it an average savings of 50,000 Aeroplan points per Priority Reward voucher, which we’d value at $1,050.
With two Priority Reward vouchers, the total benefit is worth $2,100, and the incremental value compared to a 50K member’s singular Priority Reward voucher (which we had previously valued at $630) is therefore $2,100 – $630 = $1,470.
Putting it all together, we arrive at a total valuation of $7,465 for the year as an Aeroplan 75K member.
Aeroplan Super Elite: Outstanding Top-Tier Benefits
Finally, top-tier elite status with Air Canada is known as Aeroplan Super Elite, and is widely recognized as one of the most powerful status levels among the major North American loyalty programs.
Let’s take a look at what exactly makes Super Elite status such a prized possession among Air Canada’s most frequent flyers.
Super Elite members get all the perks associated with Aeroplan 75K and below, which we’ve agreed is worth $7,465/year. Let’s then consider the incremental benefits.
Complimentary preferred seats on any fare
Without the requirement to book in Flex class as we saw for Aeroplan 75K members, Super Elite members can secure themselves preferred seating on any Air Canada flight for no charge, including on Aeroplan redemptions in economy class.
Preferred seats on international flights usually cost $100+ and sometimes as much as $199. Then again, I don’t imagine a Super Elite would be too keen on flying economy class internationally all that often, so I’d value this benefit at a token $50/year.
One additional Maple Leaf Lounge guest pass
You already have unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges for you and your immediate family, so the extra guest pass will only be useful for bringing in guests who aren’t family members.
And you would’ve already had three guest passes when qualifying for Aeroplan 50K, so the one extra pass likely makes no material difference to the valuation.
Access to the Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow
Super Elites and one guest may visit the Arrivals Lounge upon landing in Heathrow to freshen up before heading into the city. While this is a cool benefit, it’s specific to only one airport, so I’ll give it a token valuation of $20/year.
No change or cancellation fees on Aeroplan bookings
A special Aeroplan perk for Super Elites is a waiver on all change and cancellation fees, which allows members to easily make speculative bookings and hold desirable award space at no cost.
Super Elites may also leverage this benefit to avoid paying the $30 phone booking fee on new Aeroplan bookings, simply by making a simple booking online and then calling in to change to their actual desired booking for no cost.
Considering that the standard change and cancellation fees are not insignificant under the new Aeroplan program, and that these fees can add up very quickly if you’re booking for a large group, I don’t think it’s unfair to value this fee waiver benefit at a $300/year at the very least.
Two Status Passes
Super Elite members receive a base allotment of two Status Passes, and are also able to choose a further set of four Status Passes as part of their Select Benefits.
We had previously pegged the value of a Status Pass at $100 each, so the two Status Passes here would be worth $200/year.
Super Elite Select Benefits
As a Super Elite member, you get to choose 2 out of 6 among the following:
- 50 extra eUpgrade credits (on top of the 20 eUpgrade credits that all status members receive)
- Gifting Aeroplan 50K status for a friend
- 12-month Aeroplan Elite Wi-Fi Plan
- Four Status Passes
- 100% bonus Aeroplan points on your paid flights with Air Canada and select Star Alliance partners
- A lower requalification level the following year
As above, we can think about these choices one by one. Again, in addition to the eUpgrades, I’d pick the remaining Select Benefit out of the Wi-Fi plan, the Status Passes, or the gift of Aeroplan 50K status.
Super Elite members receive a total of 70 eUpgrades per year for upgrading into business class, which is another 15 more than what Aeroplan 75K members get. At our valuation of $60/eUpgrade credit, the incremental value here is a further 15 × $60 = $900.
As before, we continue to value a Wi-Fi plan at $150 and a Status Pass at $100 each, meaning the extra allotment of four Status Passes as a potential Select Benefit would be worth $400.
Now, gifting Aeroplan 50K – and therefore Star Alliance Gold – to a friend or family member? That’s quite a generous gift indeed, and if we use the same approach as we did for Aeroplan 75K, we might value this at 10% of $4,680, the value we had established for Aeroplan 50K’s benefits. That comes to about $470/year.
If we took the two most valuable options into consideration, we’d get a total of $900 + $470 = $1,370/year for the Select Benefits.
Super Elite Priority Rewards
As a Super Elite member, you are likely to have earned no less than five Priority Reward vouchers (since earning Super Elite requires 20,000 SQD, and Priority Reward vouchers are unlocked upon reaching 4,000, 7,000, 11,000, 15,000, and 20,000 SQD).
And of course, as a top-tier member, you have the ability to redeem your Priority Reward voucher on business class flights worldwide – the most powerful possible usage for Priority Rewards.
Clearly, the optimal use-case is to book business class flights to far-flung destinations around the world:
- A simple round-trip or multi-city trip can price out anywhere in the range of 110,000–220,000 points round-trip, thus saving you 55,000–110,000 points.
- A complex round-the-world trip with multiple one-way bounds and up to 16 segments can price out as high as 360,000+ points – thus saving you as much as 180,000+ points!
Of course, whether or not you can unlock those 180,000+ points in savings depends on whether or not you’re inclined to embark on crazy round-the-world itineraries.
If we instead assume “reasonable” usage of a Priority Reward voucher on a business class flight to Asia with stopovers in both directions, then each voucher would unlock average savings of 90,000 Aeroplan points, which we’d value at $1,890.
With at least five Priority Reward vouchers at your disposal (potentially usable for five passengers on the same travelling party), the benefit is worth a staggering $9,450, and the incremental value compared to a 75K member’s two Priority Reward vouchers (which we had valued above at $1,680) is therefore $9,450 – $2,100 = $7,350.
Air Canada Concierge
The Concierge team provides dedicated and personalized service to Air Canada’s most valued customers. By all accounts, they have been known to go above and beyond to make a Super Elite’s travel experience as smooth as possible.
Concierge staff may save the day for a Super Elite by holding up their next flight during a tight connection, walking them from the curb to the aircraft when you’re running late, or greeting them with new boarding passes at the airport when their onward itinerary has been affected by IRROPS.
Everyone will value this level of personalized service differently, but most Super Elites I’ve spoken to have sworn by the Concierge team, as though they wouldn’t fly with Air Canada without them.
I’m going to peg this benefit at $500/year, and I invite any Super Elite members to let me know in the comments if you think that’s too high or too low.
Finally, there will no doubt be some intangible benefits associated with being one of Air Canada’s star customers.
You’ll receive the utmost priority treatment everywhere, from speaking to a ticketing agent during IRROPS to getting through to the Air Canada and Aeroplan contact centres ahead of everyone else.
You may also receive unpublished benefits as well. To take one example, a Super Elite reader had let me know that he receives complimentary airport transfers whenever he books with Air Canada Vacations.
Throw in the priority meal orders in business class, the fact that every Maple Leaf Lounge staff member likely knows who you are, and the all-round “smug satisfaction” factor of being a top-tier elite member, and I’d value the discretionary benefits at a further $250/year.
Adding it all up, we arrive at a total valuation of Aeroplan Super Elite at $17,505 for the year.
That may seem like a very generous valuation at first glance. Indeed, the bulk of it comes from the sheer power of the worldwide business class Priority Rewards – if you don’t happen to have an optimal use for these, your valuation of Super Elite would be dramatically lower.
But when you consider that Super Elite requires spending $20,000 per year on Air Canada flights, a set of benefits worth $17,505/year seems like a good representation of Aeroplan Super Elite’s standing as one of North America’s best top-tier statuses.
Aeroplan 75K’s benefits aren’t materially more generous than what you get at the Aeroplan 50K level, with the exception of the ability to use Priority Rewards on worldwide premium economy flights and thus saving more Aeroplan points as a result.
On the other hand, it’s a major jump up to Aeroplan Super Elite, which offers some of the greatest benefits out of any North American loyalty program. The extremely powerful Priority Rewards, which can slash 50% off the cost of a business class redemption, greatly enhances the Super Elite benefit package.
Through a close examination of the benefits of each status level, we’ve arrived at “fair values” for the benefits offered at each of the Aeroplan Elite Status levels:
- Aeroplan 25K: $2,020
- Aeroplan 35K: $3,155
- Aeroplan 50K: $4,680
- Aeroplan 75K: $7,465
- Aeroplan Super Elite: $17,505
Now, I should emphasize that goal of this exercise is to establish the value of the benefits themselves – particularly now that Aeroplan Elite Status is more closely tied with Aeroplan points and eUpgrades as a whole, thus allowing us to tie our valuations of many status benefits back to our valuation for Aeroplan points.
To be clear, I certainly wouldn’t pay out-of-pocket anywhere close to these amounts to earn each respective status level.
Instead, I’d eagerly jump at the opportunity to earn them for a lot cheaper, as is currently possible via the Spend Your Way to Elite Status promotion through the fall of 2021.