In addition to the Core and Select Benefits for Aeroplan Elite Status holders, Air Canada offers threshold rewards to those with Aeroplan 50K status and above. The rewards take various forms, including eUpgrades, Aeroplan points, and even gift cards.
This post looks at threshold rewards in detail. This includes how to earn them, what you stand to gain, and some examples of where they may provide particular value.
What Are Threshold Rewards?
Threshold rewards are additional gifts given to Aeroplan Elite Status holders as they cross various Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and/or Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) thresholds.
Those with Aeroplan 50K status or above are eligible to earn threshold rewards, so if you haven’t yet reached at least 50K status, you won’t be able to earn these gifts.
Threshold rewards fall into two categories: eUpgrades and gifts.
The SQM/SQS thresholds mostly differ from those used to qualify for Aeroplan Elite Status.
For example, threshold eUpgrades are given as you obtain an additional 20,000 SQM / 20 SQS between 60,000 SQM / 60 SQS and 100,000 SQM / 100 SQS. After that, eUpgrade rewards are given in increments of 40,000 SQM / 40 SQS.
Threshold gifts follow a different structure, which is outlined in detail below.
To see how many SQM/SQS you’ve earned, sign in to your Aeroplan account and click on “My Aeroplan” on the dropdown menu. Under the “Status” tab, you’ll be able to see your current SQM, SQS, and SQD values.
As a reminder, SQM and SQS can be earned by flying with Air Canada and Star Alliance member airlines.
If you hold a premium co-branded Aeroplan credit card, any unused SQM/SQS can also be rolled over to the next calendar/benefit year.
For example, if you have an American Express Aeroplan Reserve card, hold 50K status, and finished the year with 70,000 SQM and 70 SQS, then 20,000 SQM and 20 SQS will be carried forward to 2022. This will make requalifying for 50K status and earning threshold rewards easier in 2022.
You can also earn SQM and SQS through credit card spending on eligible Aeroplan co-branded credit cards:
- Holders of premium cards receive 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $5,000 of eligible spending
- Holders of core and small business cards receive 1,000 SQM and 1 SQS for every $10,000 of eligible spending.
You’d have to spend $300,000 on a premium credit card to earn 60,000 SQM and 60 SQS. If you have a large amount of purchases for your business or are generally a really big spender, at least you can earn additional benefits with Air Canada.
Full details about SQM and SQS can be found in our Guide to Qualifying and Privileges for Aeroplan Elite Status.
We’ve covered eUpgrades in considerable detail here on Prince of Travel. One of the many quirks about them is that some are earned as a Core Benefit and others must be chosen as a Select Benefit for people with Aeroplan Elite Status. Recall that you can use eUpgrades to apply for a higher class of service on both paid and Aeroplan reward bookings.
Threshold eUpgrades are another way to boost your eUpgrade balance.
For the first two thresholds – 60,000 SQM / 60 SQS and 80,000 SQM / 80 SQS – an additional 10 eUpgrade credits are deposited into your account.
At the 100,000 SQM / 100 SQS threshold, and with each interval of 40,000 SQM / 40 SQS thereafter, you are rewarded with an additional 20 eUpgrades.
Upon crossing each threshold, the eUpgrades are automatically added to your account.
Let’s suppose you have a nice job that requires you to travel for work a lot. You have enjoyed the extension of your Super Elite status and are aiming to requalify organically in 2022.
You receive 20 eUpgrade credits automatically as a Core Benefit and select 50 eUpgrades as one of your Select Benefits. Over the course of the year, you receive 10 eUpgrades at the 60,000 SQM / 60 SQS and the 80,000 SQM / 80 SQS thresholds, and an additional 20 eUpgrades after earning 100,000 SQM / 100 SQS.
This would bring the total amount of eUpgrades at your disposal over the course of the year to 110. Further, if you rolled-over 50 eUpgrades from the previous benefit year with your premium Aeroplan credit card, your total could be up to 160 eUpgrades.
110 eUpgrades would be enough to upgrade from an Economy (Latitude) fare to business class on four round-trip flights between Vancouver and Sydney on an Aeroplan redemption. This assumes, of course, that there is eUpgrade space available.
Those same eUpgrades could also save you a significant amount of money when flying with Air Canada on any other route where you would have otherwise paid for business class outright, as we’ve shown in our previous analyses of how much value you can get with eUpgrades.
Personally, I consider eUpgrades to be very valuable, especially when used on Aeroplan redemptions. Therefore, any additional eUpgrades that are earned by crossing different SQM/SQS thresholds contribute to the value associated with having Aeroplan Elite Status.
Threshold gifts are additional rewards given to Aeroplan Elite Status holders. Note that Air Canada will be refreshing these gifts for 2022, and we will update the post accordingly.
The gifts are given at different intervals than the eUpgrade rewards.
At 60,000 SQM / 60 SQS, Aeroplan Elite 50K members receive 2,500 SQM for the following benefit year and 2,500 Aeroplan points. These gifts will appear in your account in January of the following year, giving you a slight boost towards requalifying for status and a marginal boost to your Aeroplan account.
At 90,000 SQM / 90 SQS, Aeroplan Elite 75K members receive 5,000 rollover SQM and 5,000 Aeroplan points. These gifts will also appear in your account in January of the following year.
There is a large jump to the next threshold of 150,000 SQM / 150 SQS. At this tier, Super Elites receive 20,000 bonus Aeroplan points, which is enough for a one-way flight in premium economy between Vancouver and Montreal.
At 200,000 SQM / 200 SQS, there is a gift of 35,000 Aeroplan points. This could be enough for a one-way flight between Calgary and Tokyo in economy class. You could then use eUpgrades to move up to premium economy or business class.
I imagine that it’s quite rare for people to reach the previous two thresholds, let alone the remaining three. I’d be curious to hear from Air Canada how many travellers reach each threshold tier in a given year.
For example, the 250,000 SQM / 250 SQS threshold is equivalent to flying between Toronto and Vancouver 119 times over the course of a calendar year. Of course, this doesn’t take into account any bonus SQM through different fares or credit card spending, but it’s a good illustration of what you’d have to do to get here.
If you did manage to reach 250,000 SQM / 250 SQS, you’d be rewarded with a banked Super Elite status. This would allow you to enjoy a year of Super Elite benefits without having to work for it.
(If you’re an Air Canada Three Million Miler and already enjoy Super Elite Status for life, you’ll receive 75,000 Aeroplan points instead.)
At 300,000 SQM / 300 SQS, you’re given a choice between either 150,000 Aeroplan points or a $2,000 Air Canada gift card.
And at the final threshold of 350,000 SQM / 350 SQS, you can choose between 300,000 Aeroplan points or a $4,000 Air Canada gift card.
In the latter two options, my inclination would be to choose the points over the gift card for two reasons.
Using our current valuation of 2.1 cents per point, the theoretical value of the points ($3,150 and $6,300, respectively) exceeds that of the gift cards. If you redeem the points for high value redemptions, such as ANA First Class, you can gain even more value from the points.
After flying such a ridiculous amount, you would very likely be swimming in Priority Rewards, too. As a Super Elite, these Priority Rewards may be redeemed for business class flights with any Aeroplan partner airline anywhere in the world.
Since each Priority Reward cuts the required number of points for your redemption in half, you could consider the gifted points to double in value, as you’d be able to redeem them for what would usually cost 300,000 or 600,000 points, respectively.
Threshold eUpgrades and gifts are additional perks afforded to those with Aeroplan 50K status and above as they cross various SQM and SQS thresholds. These rewards are in addition to the Core and Select Benefits that come with having Aeroplan Elite Status.
Between eUpgrades and the gifts, I would consider the former to be of more value until reaching the 250,000 SQM / 250 SQS threshold, where the gifts become more interesting.
It will be interesting to see how Air Canada chooses to revamp the gifts for the 2022 benefit year.