Earlier this year, Air Canada and Aeroplan offered a blanket extension of Aeroplan Elite Status through to 2022 due to the continued impact of the pandemic on members’ travel plans.
Today, the program has announced a few major updates to Aeroplan Elite Status to take note of as we approach the 2022 membership year.
eUpgrade Validity Extended to January 15
Air Canada eUpgrades currently operate on a calendar-year basis. If a member earns eUpgrades as part of their 2021 status, those eUpgrades are valid until December 31, 2021, and must be applied to a flight that takes place by that date.
As you can imagine, this arrangement unfairly impacts Aeroplan members who plan travel during the winter holidays, as they’d be able to apply eUpgrades to their outbound flight that takes place in December, but not to their return flight that takes place in January 2022.
Until now, members would need to wait until they could choose their Select Benefits for the following year to earn eUpgrades that can upgrade their return segments, which can be too close to comfort for the majority of travellers to confirm an upgrade.
In recognition of this, Aeroplan will extend the validity period of all eUpgrades going forward. Rather than expiring on December 31 of every year, eUpgrades will expire on January 15 of the following year after the eUpgrades were earned.
This change will apply to eUpgrades earned this year in 2021, allowing them to be applied to flights that take place before January 15, 2022. This should be reflected in members’ accounts by the end of November.
While this is no doubt a positive change, in the long term, I’d still like to see a major change applied to eUpgrades to allow them to be applied to any flight by their expiry date, even if the flight takes place afterwards.
That’s exactly how other Aeroplan benefits like the Buddy Pass or Priority Rewards currently operate, and more closely aligns with how members book their travel (i.e., often far in advance across calendar years, rather than separated by calendar year).
50% SQD Requirement for International Members Ending Soon
In a major change to status qualification, starting in 2022, members whose primary residence is located outside of Canada will no longer be able to qualify for status for 50% fewer Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD). Going forward, the same SQD requirements will apply to all Aeroplan members.
(As a reminder, SQD is determined based on dollars spent on paid flights with Air Canada and select partners, and is a key component of qualifying for the higher tiers of Aeroplan Elite Status in conjunction with Status Qualifying Miles or Segments.)
While Aeroplan’s international elite contingent will be negatively impacted by this change, Canadian-based elite members may view this as an improvement to the program that makes things fairer across the membership base.
In tandem with this change, Aeroplan has stated that the program is “working on new ways to help all of our members earn Elite Status more quickly and easily in the years to come – in part due to the fact that we realize that travel plans in the coming months remain uncertain”.
In light of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw temporary reductions to SQD or bonus methods of earning SQD introduced for the 2021 or 2022 membership years.
Further Extension of Priority Rewards
As part of this round of Aeroplan Elite Status updates, any unused Priority Rewards issued through the end of 2021 will be extended to December 31, 2022.
This is a further extension from what was communicated earlier this year. Previously, Priority Rewards issued through 2020 had been extended to 2022, and now those issued through 2021 are given the same treatment.
If you’ve earned any Priority Rewards through your SQD activity or the one-time grant as an existing elite member at the time of the new program’s launch, you’ll have an extended timeline to redeem them for 50% fewer Aeroplan points compared to the regular price on an eligible itinerary.
Aeroplan Premium Credit Card Application Deadline for Elite Rollover Benefits
As a reminder, the Aeroplan premium credit cards grant certain elite rollover benefits. Cardholders can roll over by up to one year:
- Up to 200,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) above what was required to earn or retain your Elite Status level
- Up to 50 eUpgrades
As we approach the end of the year, Aeroplan has clarified the application deadline for members who don’t currently hold a premium credit card, but would like to get one for the rollover benefits: members must be approved for the card by December 15, 2021 in order for the rollover benefits to apply at the 2021 year-end and into 2022.
I’d expect December 15 to be the standard application deadline every year going forward for the rollover benefits on the premium cards to apply.
|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|
|65,000 Aeroplan points + Buddy Pass||$1,422||Apply Now|
|Up to 75,000 Aeroplan points||$425||Apply Now|
2022 Membership Kit
Finally, those of you who are interested in the vanity factor may be disappointed by Aeroplan’s approach to the 2022 membership kit: only members who achieve a higher status level in 2021 will receive a new membership kit for 2022. If you simply had your 2021 status extended into 2022, you won’t be getting a new membership kit in the new year.
This is presumably due to the sheer volume of processing membership tags, cards, and kits for the entire ranks of Aeroplan 35K members and above, since everyone was granted a carte-blanche status extension this year.
As a side note, US-based members who status-matched to Aeroplan Elite Status for 2021 also won’t be receiving a membership kit unless they retain their status through 2022 by flying a round-trip flight with Air Canada by January 15, 2022.
Aeroplan has announced a few key changes to the elite status program as we approach the 2021–2022 transition period. Most significantly, the eUpgrade expiry date has been adjusted from December 31 to January 15 of the following year, allowing members to upgrade flights that take place towards the tail end of the winter holiday season.
Meanwhile, the 50% SQD allowance for international Aeroplan members will come to an end this year, with Aeroplan hinting at continued innovation in helping members earn or accelerate their status both at home and in the skies. I’m looking forward to seeing what the program offers up in the coming months.