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Aeroplan Elite Status: The Benefits of Being a Super Elite

 

Air Canada’s most frequent flyers can qualify for its top tier status, Aeroplan Super Elite, by doing a lot of flying and spending a considerable amount of money each year. In return, the airline rewards them with a suite of exclusive benefits and perks to distinguish them as their most loyal customers.

With the Aeroplan premium credit cards offering an easier pathway towards upgrading to Super Elite this year, perhaps some of you will find it worthwhile to make the jump to the program’s top-most elite ranks.

In this post in our series on Aeroplan and Aeroplan Elite Status, we will examine some of the advantages that come with being a Super Elite.

We will also look at the changes to the Super Elite benefits with the new Aeroplan and offer some perspectives from some Super Elite Prince of Travel readers who shared their experience and opinions.

Qualifying for Super Elite

You don’t earn the title of Super Elite without doing some serious flying. As described in detail in our post about qualifying for Aeroplan Elite Status, Super Elites must surpass the thresholds in the program to earn their stripes.

In a calendar year, Super Elites must attain:

  • 100,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQM), or
  • 100 Status Qualifying Segments (SQS)

and:

  • $20,000 Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD)

Note that in the previous iteration of the program, the SQS requirement was only 95. This means that if you were someone who tended to qualify for Super Elite status by number of segments, you’ll now have to fly five more segments in a calendar year.

As we have outlined in our coverage of the co-branded Aeroplan credit cards, it is now possible to earn SQM and SQD from your monthly credit card spend. So, while it is now slightly more difficult to qualify for Super Elite through SQS, one could argue that it’s even easier as credit card spend can now count towards your SQM and SQS progress throughout the year.

Earn SQM/SQS Through Credit Card Spend
Credit Card Best Offer Value
90,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $2,551 Apply Now
90,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $2,236 Apply Now
40,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass
$120 annual fee
40,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $1,476 Apply Now
65,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $1,422 Apply Now
30,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass
First Year Free
30,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $1,260 Apply Now
25,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass
First Year Free
25,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $1,176 Apply Now
20,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass
First Year Free
20,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $1,113 Apply Now
20,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass
First Year Free
20,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass $1,071 Apply Now
Up to 75,000 Aeroplan points $425 Apply Now

As with the previous Air Canada Altitude program, if you have an address outside of Canada, the SQD requirement is halved. This means that you’d only have to earn $10,000 SQD versus the $20,000 SQD requirement if you live outside of Canada.

Super Elite Core Benefits

The full suite of benefits for Super Elites can be found on the Air Canada website and is also outlined in my previous post. Super Elites enjoy the privileges afforded to all lower tiers and also get extra perks. 

Core Benefits, which do not need to be selected, are awarded immediately upon meeting the SQM/SQS and SQD requirements. Here, I will discuss the free changes and cancellations for Aeroplan bookings, the Concierge service, the eUpgrade nominee, and the Priority Rewards benefits.

Free Changes/Cancellations

Super Elites benefit from having free changes and cancellations to Aeroplan reward bookings. This opens up the possibility of doing speculative bookings at any time without having to worry about cancellation or change fees. 

(While the current generous COVID-19 policies allow anyone to do this on an Aeroplan booking, once the change and cancellation policy reverts back to normal, Super Elites will continue to enjoy this privilege while the rest of us must get used to paying fees.)

Indeed, Super Elites have expressed their delight with this benefit. Aside from the money saved, they can also change to a different flight that better suits their schedules or to a flight with eUpgrade space if their original flight no longer has any. 

Personally, I’ve found great value in being able to book flights without the fear of having to pay up to $175 to cancel or change my ticket thanks to the generous COVID-19 cancellation policies.

Given the current dynamic nature of travel, as plans change, it has been great to get all of my points, eUpgrades, and taxes/fees back without incurring any additional fees. I will certainly miss having this flexibility when the change and cancellation policy reverts back to normal.

Concierge Services

On paper, the Concierge service is a team of specially trained employees that assist with special requests and aim to make the travel experience as seamless as possible for Super Elites.

They look after everything from proactively rebooking flights during IRROPS, assisting with last-minute hotel and restaurant bookings, and generally tailoring the travel experience.

In practice, though, the Concierge team frequently goes the extra mile for assisting Super Elites. On various online forums and blogs, I’ve seen them described as “angels” and “heroes” who do incredible work.

Personally, I’ve seen Concierges greet Super Elites onboard aircraft, introduce them to new Concierges to begin building a relationship, and meet them at the gate with new boarding passes for a tight connection.

Concierges can hand-deliver boarding passes to Super Elites on a tight connection.

There are stories of the Concierge team searching the bowels of the airport for lost luggage, holding an aircraft at the gate for a tight connection, and fast-tracking Super Elites through security and customs to make a flight. When travel plans go awry, the Concierge team ensures that they go as smoothly as possible. 

I can see this service being of particular benefit during peak travel periods or inclement weather, when phone lines are slammed, lineups are impossibly long, and getting assistance is next to impossible. Rather, Super Elites have a team of individuals behind the scenes dealing with things so they don’t have to. 

Indeed, many Super Elites I’ve spoken with remark at how useful Concierges can be. One quick phone call, email, or conversation at the airport is all it takes to have someone deal with your request. I imagine that the personal greetings and relationship building is a nice perk for those who value such service, too.

(Note that customers travelling in Air Canada’s Signature Class on paid bookings are also eligible for Concierge services on the day of departure at the airport, too. But, they are limited to Concierge check-in assistance in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver and assistance with at-risk connections to another Signature Class flight.)

eUpgrade Nominee

Unlike all other Aeroplan Elite Status tiers, Super Elites can nominate one person each year as their eUpgrade Nominee. This allows the nominee to use the account holder’s eUpgrades on their own without the Super Elite being on the booking reference.

All other Aeroplan Elite Status members can only share their eUpgrades with one other passenger on the same booking, as well as one other passenger for an upgrade request on the day of travel at the airport.

Many people gripe about not being able to use their eUpgrades for family members on separate bookings – indeed, this benefit is reserved for Super Elites.

Super Elites also have the longest eUpgrade clearance window. Aside from a Premium Economy (Flexible) or Latitude booking, on which anyone can instantly confirm an eUpgrade, Super Elites can request and clear an eUpgrade 14 days prior to departure for North America and Sun destination bookings and seven days prior to departure for International bookings. 

For families or groups, this means that three people can instantly confirm an eUpgrade if they make a paid or reward booking in Latitude or Premium Economy (Flexible), or if they are within the extended eUpgrade clearance window.

The Super Elite and one additional passenger are on one booking, and the eUpgrade Nominee is on another booking.

At the airport, they could then request an additional eUpgrade for one more passenger, theoretically bringing the total number of passengers travelling together on eUpgrades to four. In practice, I imagine this would be difficult to achieve (especially during peak travel or on highly sought-after routes), but in theory, it’s possible.

I would argue that this benefit has become even more valuable with the new Aeroplan, as eUpgrades can now be applied to Aeroplan reward bookings.

Under usual pricing, Latitude cash fares tend to be significantly higher than Standard or Flex fares, whereas Latitude fares on Aeroplan bookings don’t tend to be as proportionally expensive. In comparison to booking four (or more) passengers in business class, this benefit can result in huge savings in cash or Aeroplan points.

As we’ve discussed previously, being savvy with eUpgrades can be akin to having a degree in quantum physics, but those who take the time to know the ins and outs of the program receive the most benefits from it.

Priority Rewards

Perhaps one of the biggest changes for Super Elites in the new Aeroplan has come in the form of Priority Rewards

Under the legacy program, Super Elites were granted with 10 Priority Rewards each year. These could be used to open up additional business class reward space on any Air Canada flight, and all passengers on a single booking would be covered with a single Priority Reward.

Under the new Aeroplan program, Priority Rewards are earned by crossing SQD thresholds. So, one Priority Reward is earned at each of the $4,000, $7,000, and $10,000 SQD thresholds, as well as every $5,000 thereafter. Priority Rewards must now be earned rather than being granted.

At a minimum, qualifying for Super Elite with a $20,000 SQD threshold would result in five Priority Rewards. Each of these Priority Rewards can be used to cut in half the number of points required for a booking for one person. 

Super Elites are the only members who can use their Priority Rewards on business class rewards with Air Canada and any partner airline for bookings anywhere in the world.

For example, if the regular cost of a flight from Toronto to Hong Kong was 82,000 Aeroplan points in business class, a Super Elite’s Priority Reward would cut that amount to 41,000 Aeroplan points. 

For travellers who seek to maximize their flight time and push the boundaries of what’s possible with the new program, this can be a very powerful tool to cover a lot of ground – up to six one-way bounds and 16 segments on a round-the-world business class ticket – for half the price.

Further, being able to redeem them for flights with any partner airline is a huge improvement. With a fixed price for flights with partner airlines, it is a more predictable way to calculate value in terms of points saved on a booking as opposed to dynamic pricing with Air Canada flights.

Many Prince of Travel readers who are Super Elites remarked at how they find the new Priority Rewards to be more valuable than the old ones for the international trips they’ve been mapping out. But for others who tend to fly more domestically and transborder, the value extracted from the Priority Rewards may not be as significant.

I’ve seen Super Elite Priority Rewards being used for a round-trip between Winnipeg and Toronto – or for cutting in half the shocking number of points required for a sought-after long-haul business class route such as Tel Aviv–Toronto.

In that case, while 160,000 Aeroplan points is much less than the 320,000 that others would have had to pay, one could argue that it’s absurd that it costs that much in the first place. In many cases, using eUpgrades on a Latitude fare would also result in substantial savings, as long as eUpgrade space is available.

Priority Rewards can get you out of a tight spot with expensive Air Canada business class awards, but it may not be their best use.

Further, as Priority Rewards now have to be used for each person on a booking, they must be rationed accordingly. This is unlike the old Priority Rewards, where one would cover all passengers on the same booking. This was of great benefit to couples, families, and groups of people travelling together.

While there can be significant value garnered from Priority Rewards, it will depend on your travel patterns. Of course, it’s impossible to design a program to appease everyone, so it’s up to the Super Elite to find value given what is available to them.

Super Elite Select Benefits

For the annual Select Benefits, Super Elites can choose two of the following six options:

  • 100% bonus Aeroplan points with Air Canada and select airline partners
  • 50 eUpgrade credits
  • Lower Requalification Level (95,000 SQM or 90 SQS)
  • Aeroplan 50K status for a friend
  • 12-month wifi plan
  • 4 Status Passes

I most commonly select the 100% bonus and 50 eUpgrade credits when I am selecting or recommending benefits for clients. These choices help Super Elite members organically grow Aeroplan their point balances and stocks them with a hefty number of eUpgrades to use throughout the year. 

For the 2021 benefit year, Lower Requalification Level isn’t useful at all, as everyone’s status has been extended until the end of 2022. And in general, with the ability to earn SQM and SQS through credit card spending, I would argue that this Select Benefit doesn’t make sense for most.

I suppose the remaining three options can be beneficial in the right circumstances.

Gifting Aeroplan 50K status to your better half or someone with whom you travel often could equip you with an additional 40 eUpgrade credits to use between the two of you. If they were also selected as an eUpgrade nominee, the dynamic duo would have at least 11o eUpgrade credits to use throughout the year (assuming the Super Elite selects eUpgrade credits as their other benefit).

Wifi is nice to have, but as monthly plans start at around $65, it would be important to gauge whether or not you can get more value out of other options, which I would argue is very possible.

In my opinion, Status Passes would be a last resort, as many of the benefits can be obtained by redeeming for a business class ticket. But, for families who travel together, having the extra baggage allowance, lounge access, and priority services could be a great way to enhance travel, especially during busy travel periods.

Conclusion

Being a Super Elite with Air Canada comes with a number of perks and privileges. As the airline’s most loyal customers, they are afforded benefits above and beyond what other Aeroplan Elite Status members are offered.

Super Elites enjoy a streamlined travel experience with priority everything, fast-tracking to the front of the line, and a personalized Concierge service. They also have the most powerful Priority Rewards and the greatest flexibility with eUpgrades.

I always enjoy hearing from Super Elites about their opinions on the new program as compared to the old program, as well as stories about Concierges going above and beyond.

Do you find the new Aeroplan Elite Status more or less valuable? What do you find most beneficial about being a Super Elite? Is there anything you’d like to change? Feel free to leave a comment below, on the Prince of Travel Elites Facebook group, or get in touch on the Prince of Travel Club Lounge on Discord.

Shout out to Prince of Travel readers Wallace and Les for sharing their thoughts about their Aeroplan Super Elite status.