Air Canada eUpgrades: Fly Business Class for the Price of Economy

eUpgrades are Air Canada’s in-house currency for passengers with Aeroplan Elite Status who wish to upgrade to a higher class of service on flights with Air Canada. eUpgrades may be used on both cash and Aeroplan reward bookings.

In this guide, we will go over, in detail, everything you need to know about eUpgrades, including: how to earn eUpgrades, the eUpgrade charts, eUpgrade clearance windows, how to apply eUpgrades to a booking, how to waitlist for an eUpgrade, sharing eUpgrades with other passengers, and some possible downsides to using eUpgrades.

This is a pretty dense topic, so let’s get right into it.

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In This Post

What Are Air Canada eUpgrades?

eUpgrades are a special currency earned by Air Canada’s elite frequent flyers who have attained Aeroplan Elite Status. eUpgrades are given by Air Canada as a token of appreciation for their customers’ loyalty.

If you don’t have Aeroplan Elite Status, you won’t find any eUpgrades at your disposal. eUpgrades cannot be purchased, transferred, or earned in any other way.

eUpgrades may be used to upgrade into a higher class of service on Air Canada flights. For example, they may be used to upgrade from the economy class cabin to the premium economy cabin, from economy class to business class, or from premium economy to business class.

eUpgrades cannot be used on any other airline – they can only be used on Air Canada flights.

You can only use eUpgrades on flights with Air Canada.

You can use eUpgrades if you’ve paid for your flight with either cash or Aeroplan points. Make sure you attach your Aeroplan number to your flight booking, as this will ensure your eUpgrades are available to you.

eUpgrades can be shared with other passengers, but only in specific circumstances. There is a limit on how many people you can share your eUpgrades with and several other nuances, which are covered in detail further in this guide.

eUpgrades have an expiry date, and can only be used for travel that takes place before they expire. For example, if you have eUpgrades that expire on January 15, 2023, you can’t use them for a flight that departs on January 16, 2023 or any time thereafter.

Even if you have a confirmed eUpgrade, there’s a chance that you’ll wind up in your original booking class. The only way to confirm a seat in business class or premium economy is to book directly in business class or premium economy to begin with.

We’ll expand on all of the above information throughout this guide, beginning with how to earn eUpgrades.

How to Earn Air Canada eUpgrades

eUpgrades are earned by attaining Aeroplan Elite Status with Air Canada.

The typical route to get Aeroplan Elite Status is to fly a lot with Air Canada. Depending on how often you fly, you’ll reach different levels, including: 25K, 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite.

It’s also possible to earn the base-level 25K status without ever having set foot on an aircraft. This is done either through Everyday Status Qualification (earning 100,000 Aeroplan points in a calendar year) or simply by holding the US-issued Chase Aeroplan Card.

Upon reaching any level of status, 20 eUpgrade credits are deposited into your account as a Core Benefit. This means that anyone with Aeroplan Elite Status will have at least 20 eUpgrade credits to use throughout the year.

Depending on which level of status you have reached, you can choose more eUpgrades from Bundle 1 of your Select Benefits. If you use Flight Passes, you can earn more eUpgrades from Bundle 2 of your Select Benefits.

Furthermore, travellers with Aeroplan 50K status and above can earn additional eUpgrade credits as Threshold Rewards.

More About Threshold Rewards

How to Find Your eUpgrades

Once you have earned eUpgrades, you’ll find them in your Aeroplan account.

Simply sign-in to your Aeroplan account, click on “My Aeroplan,” and click on the “Benefits” tab. Here, your overall eUpgrade balance will be displayed alongside any other Aeroplan perks you enjoy.

If you don’t see any eUpgrade credits here, it means that you don’t have Aeroplan Elite Status.

Clicking on “Visit site” under your eUpgrade balance will bring you to the eUpgrade landing page, where you’ll find three buttons.

Under “My transaction history”, you can see an overview of any eUpgrade requests you’ve made for up to the last two years. 

Under “My credit history”, you’ll find a breakdown of the validity period of your current eUpgrades, as well as a list of the eUpgrade credits that you’ve earned.

The validity of eUpgrades are determined as follows:

  • eUpgrades earned in any fashion between January 1 and June 30 of any year are valid through to January 16 of the following year. For example, if you earn 20 eUpgrades on March 30, 2022 by qualifying for Aeroplan 25K status, those eUpgrades will be valid until January 16, 2023.
  • eUpgrades earned in any fashion between July 1 and December 31 are valid through to January 16 of the year after the next benefit year. For example, if you earn 20 eUpgrades on July 2, 2022 as a Select Benefit for your Aeroplan 50K status, those eUpgrades will be valid until January 15, 2024. 

It is therefore advantageous to earn eUpgrades in the latter half of the year, or to wait until July 1 to choose eUpgrades as a Select Benefit, as you’ll get the longest validity period by doing so.

Further down the page, you’ll find a list of all eUpgrade credits earned over the past two years. Any eUpgrades you’ve earned in any way will show up here.

Extending the Validity of eUpgrades

If you hold a premium Aeroplan co-branded credit card, you can rollover up to 50 eUpgrade credits for one year. 

For example, if you have 50 unused eUpgrades at the end of the year, the validity of those eUpgrades will be extended for one year if you have a premium co-branded credit card.

Those eUpgrades will not extend for another year after that, so you must use them within the next benefit year to avoid losing them.

For example, if you rolled over 50 eUpgrades from the 2022 benefit year to 2023, those eUpgrades will disappear as of January 16, 2024 if you don’t use them.

Aeroplan Credit Cards with eUpgrade Rollover
Credit Card Best Offer Value
115,000 Aeroplan points $1,942 Apply Now
115,000 Aeroplan points $1,921 Apply Now
105,000 Aeroplan points $1,869 Apply Now
Up to 75,000 Aeroplan points $425 Apply Now

eUpgrade Nominee

If you are an Aeroplan Super Elite member, your eUpgrade Nominee’s name will show up under in the “My Nominees” box. If you have yet to nominate someone, just click on “View” and enter their first name, last name, and Aeroplan number. 

The Nominee does not need to have Aeroplan Elite Status, but they must have an Aeroplan number.

Once someone is nominated, they can use your eUpgrades on bookings when the nominator isn’t travelling. The Nominee can only use eUpgrades for themselves – eUpgrades cannot be used for anyone else travelling with them on the same booking or otherwise.

Only one eUpgrade Nominee may be appointed every year. You can’t change your mind and add someone else – you must wait until the next benefit year to do so.

If you aren’t a Super Elite, you can’t appoint an eUpgrade Nominee.

Super Elites can nominate someone to use their eUpgrades.

The eUpgrade Chart

Used properly, eUpgrades can unlock a significant amount of value with both cash and Aeroplan reward bookings.

Before diving in to the workflow for actually redeeming eUpgrades, let’s go over the Air Canada eUpgrade chart for some background information on how to determine the number of eUpgrades you’ll need for your flight.

Understanding the eUpgrade Chart

The number of eUpgrades you’ll need depends on a number of factors, including the fare booked, the distance you’ll fly, whether you booked with cash or points, and the part of the world you’re flying to.

Just like Aeroplan’s Flight Reward Chart, the eUpgrade chart is divided into geographic zones.

For eUpgrades, Air Canada divides the world into two zones: North America & Sun destinations, depicted in red in the below image, as well as International destinations, which are depicted in blue.

Within each zone, there are separate charts for upgrades to business class (from either premium economy or economy class) and upgrades to premium economy (from economy class). Each of these charts are then further subdivided into eUpgrade requirements for cash fares and Aeroplan tickets.

Let’s have a look at the charts, and then we’ll go over how to interpret them.

Here are the eUpgrade requirements for upgrading to business class on a one-way flight within North America or to Sun destinations.

Here are the eUpgrade requirements for upgrading to premium economy on a one-way flight within North America or to Sun destinations:

Here are the eUpgrade requirements for upgrading to business class on a one-way flight to international destinations:

And here are the eUpgrade requirements for upgrading to premium economy on a one-way flight to international destinations:

The eUpgrade chart is structured consistently throughout the different charts: the more expensive your underlying fare option (e.g., Economy (Latitude), Economy (Comfort), Economy (Flex), or Economy (Standard)), the fewer eUpgrade credits you’ll need for your upgrade.

Meanwhile, the greater your distance flown, the more eUpgrade credits you’ll need.

Almost all the upgrade possibilities specify an exact number of eUpgrades and the corresponding add-on cash amount (if any), with the only exceptions being at the extreme of upgrading from the lowest possible underlying fare.

For Economy (Standard) bookings, you’ll see “Add-on starting at” a given price, as these are determined by the market forces at the time of requesting an upgrade.

As you can see in the charts, there’s a distinction between the number of eUpgrades required for an underlying cash ticket and an underlying Aeroplan reward. By and large, the eUpgrade chart for Aeroplan rewards is priced equal to or higher than for cash rewards.

Use eUpgrades to move from economy class to Air Canada Signature Class.

You’ll also notice that the international business class eUpgrade chart contains a range of cash add-on requirements that is much higher than the add-ons on the other charts. This makes sense, given that this is likely the most attractive use of eUpgrades for most elite members.

Your Aeroplan Elite Status has no bearing on the number of eUpgrades required for a flight. A Super Elite and a 25K member will use the same number of eUpgrades if booked in the same fare class on the same route.

However, it’s worth noting here that Aeroplan Super Elite members are exempt from the cash add-ons in the rows highlighted in blue in the charts above. 

Calculating How Many eUpgrades You’ll Need

Determining how many eUpgrades you’ll need for a particular booking is useful to know, as you might want to ration your eUpgrades throughout the year.

In sum, you’ll need to know your fare class (i.e. Economy (Standard), Economy (Flex), Economy (Comfort), Economy (Latitude), Premium Economy (Lowest), or Premium Economy (Flexible)), the specific fare code within the fare bucket (depicted by a letter such as “S”, “T”, “M”, “U”, “Y”, etc.), the distance of your flight, and part of the world you’re traveling to.

The fare class is shown when you’re shopping for flights on Air Canada’s website:

  • For cash fares, your options include Economy (Standard), Economy (Flex), Economy (Comfort), Economy (Latitude), Premium Economy (Lowest), and Premium Economy (Flexible). 
  • For Aeroplan bookings, your fare options include Economy (Standard), Economy (Flex), Economy (Latitude), Premium Economy (Lowest), and Premium Economy (Flexible). 

Note that eUpgrades cannot be used on Economy (Basic) fares.

The specific letter-based fare code is indicated once you’ve chosen your fare class. It can be found by clicking on “Details” after you’ve chosen your fare in the booking process:

Or, after you’ve made your booking, it is indicated by clicking on “Flight details” in your booking:

For a more advanced breakdown of fare codes, you can use a tool like ITA Matrix or speak to a knowledgeable travel agent. 

You can use Great Circle Mapper to calculate the total distance of your planned flights for free.

Once you have all of the above information, locate the tier in the chart for your preferred fare, and you’ll find the number of eUpgrades, as well as any add-on fee, needed for your booking.

An even simpler, albeit clunkier, method is to enable the eUpgrade toggle on the Air Canada website.

Once you’ve completed your search, click on the “eUpgrade” button at the top of the search results. The button looks the same on both cash and Aeroplan searches.

Once you’ve pressed the button, the search results will repopulate. Click on your desired fare, scroll down, and the number of eUpgrades and any additional add-on fee will be displayed. 

Understanding the eUpgrade Clearance Window

At this point, you’ll know how many eUpgrades you’ll need to use, but we aren’t ready to use them quite yet. First, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the eUpgrade clearance window.

Unlike the number of eUpgrades required, which is based on the underlying fare, distance flown, and destination, the eUpgrade clearance window is where your Aeroplan Elite Status becomes a factor.

Members may submit an eUpgrade request at any time after completing their booking. Whether or not your eUpgrade request clears is based on the clearance window instead.

The clearance window refers to the time period during which you can confirm an eUpgrade, as long as there is eUpgrade space available at that time. We’ll go over how to determine if there is eUpgrade space available in the next part of this guide.

The eUpgrade clearance windows, which may be found at the bottom of the eUpgrade chart, are as follows:

There are two key takeaways from the eUpgrade clearance window.

The first is that flights booked in Premium Economy (Flexible) or Economy (Latitude) are not subject to a clearance window. As long as there is eUpgrade space available, any Aeroplan Elite Status member can instantly confirm an eUpgrade to premium economy or business class on any Air Canada flight.

This is what we’ve coined as the “Latitude Attitude”, and is indeed one of the most powerful ways to combine your Aeroplan Elite Status with your Aeroplan points. 

The second takeaway from the eUpgrade clearance window is that if you book in any other fare class aside from Premium Economy (Flexible) or Economy (Latitude), you’ll be subject to an eUpgrade clearance window.

The eUpgrade clearance window is the length of time within which you can instantly confirm an upgrade to a higher cabin of service, as long as there is eUpgrade space available.

Having a higher elite status rewards you with farther-out clearance priority. North American flights also have a more generous clearance window than international flights.

For example, subject to eUpgrade availability, a Super Elite member flying within North America can instantly confirm an eUpgrade within 14 days prior to departure when booked on a Premium Economy (Lowest), Comfort, Flex, or Standard fare.

Likewise, subject to eUpgrade availability, a 35K member flying to an international destination can confirm an eUpgrade only within four days prior to departure, if booked on a Premium Economy (Lowest), Comfort, Flex, or Standard fare.

Use eUpgrades to instantly confirm an upgrade within your clearance window.

How to Find eUpgrade Availability

Now that we’ve gone over the eUpgrade clearance window, let’s look at how to determine whether or not there’s eUpgrade availability on your flight.

The most important, and indeed the most commonly overlooked, element of eUpgrades is finding eUpgrade availability.

Not all flights have eUpgrade space available, and just because there are unsold seats in business class or premium economy doesn’t mean there is eUpgrade space on that particular flight.

Air Canada releases eUpgrade availability on some, but not all, of their flights. There is no pattern to eUpgrade availability – it’s either there, or it’s not, but finding it isn’t impossible, and it’s worth your while to understand how to do so.

Furthermore, Air Canada may also release eUpgrade space at any point up to departure. If there isn’t any eUpgrade space when you book your flight, it may become available leading up to your flight, which is where a tool like ExpertFlyer might come in handy for setting up a Flight Alert.

Use tools like ExpertFlyer to help confirm an eUpgrade to business class.

Business class eUpgrade space is sometimes referred to as “R” space, as Air Canada’s fare code for business class eUpgrade space is “R”.

Premium economy eUpgrade space is sometimes referred to as “N” space, as the fare code for premium economy eUpgrade space is “N”.

The two easiest methods of finding eUpgrade space are using ExpertFlyer or the toggles on Air Canada’s website.

Finding eUpgrade space using ExpertFlyer

ExpertFlyer is a very helpful tool for many reasons, including finding “R” and “N” space.

Suppose you’d like to fly from Vancouver to Montreal, and you have some eUpgrades valid for your ideal travel date of November 15. You’d be happy with either premium economy or business class, and you have 30 eUpgrades in your account that are valid for the date of travel.

You input the flight information on ExpertFlyer, and are then shown the following results for direct flights:

What does this all mean? You really only need to pay attention to two letter codes, “R” and “N”, in the Available Classes column.

On AC304, you notice that there is both “R” and “N” space available, as indicated by “R6” and “N2”. This means that there are six eUpgrade-eligible seats in business class, and two eUpgrade-eligible seats in premium economy.

On AC306, you notice that there is “R” space but no “N” space, as indicated by “R9” and “N0” on the results. This means that there are at least nine eUpgrade-eligible seats to business class on this particular flight, but none in premium economy. 

If there is a zero next to both “R” and “N” for your desired flights, it means that there isn’t currently any eUpgrade space available. You won’t be able to confirm an eUpgrade right away, and instead, you’ll be waitlisted. 

We’ll go over all of the details for confirming and waitlisting later in this guide.

If you don’t have an ExpertFlyer subscription or aren’t privy towards a very helpful bovine-themed searching tool, you can find this same information by using the search result filters on Air Canada’s website.

Finding eUpgrade space on Air Canada’s website

To find eUpgrade space using the search result toggles on Air Canada’s website, simply enter your preferred city pair, date, and method of payment (cash or Aeroplan points). This will give you the regular search results.

Let’s use the same example of flying from Vancouver to Montreal on the same date listed above, which will fact-check our findings on ExpertFlyer.

This is what the search results page will look like after a search for flights from Vancouver to Montreal using Aeroplan points.

To enable the eUpgrade filter, click on the “eUpgrade” button at the top of the search results, and enter in your desired class of service and your Aeroplan Elite Status.

Let’s start with looking for eUpgrade space to business class.

The search results will then repopulate, showing you whether or not there is eUpgrade availability for business class on each flight.

Flights with eUpgrade availability will clearly show “Eligible for eUpgrade” underneath the cost, and flights without eUpgrade availability will clearly show “You will be waitlisted” underneath the cost.

As we saw using ExpertFlyer, there is eUpgrade space to business class on both AC304 and AC306 on this particular date. This is clearly indicated by the arrow within a circle and “Eligible for eUpgrade” text under the price. 

Clicking on the fare and scrolling down will show you the number of eUpgrades required and the cost for each fare, as well as any add-on fees.

As the distance between Vancouver and Montreal is 2,295 miles, the information displayed above corroborates with what we’d expect on the eUpgrade chart for flights booked with Aeroplan points within North America:

  • 11 eUpgrade credits + $250 add-on fee for an Economy (Standard) fare
  • 10 eUpgrade credits for an Economy (Flex) fare
  • 4 eUpgrade credits for an Economy (Latitude) fare

In this example, booking in Economy (Latitude) and using four eUpgrade credits to instantly upgrade to business class would cost 32,400 points, while booking directly into business class would cost 100,800 points. That’s a whopping savings of 68,400 points!

Meanwhile, to find whether or not there is eUpgrade space to premium economy, simply select “Premium Economy” instead of business class when you click on the “eUpgrade” button. 

The search results will repopulate to show whether or not there is eUpgrade space to premium economy, as well as the number of eUpgrades required.

As we saw on our ExpertFlyer search, there is eUpgrade availability to premium economy (“N” space) on AC304, as indicated by the circle within an area and “Eligible for eUpgrade” underneath the cost.

Similarly, there isn’t eUpgrade space to premium economy on AC306, as indicated by the clock and “You will be waitlisted” underneath the cost.

Clicking on the fare pulls up the number of eUpgrade credits required to upgrade to premium economy. If there isn’t eUpgrade availability, it will remind you again with a blurb below the cost.

These numbers correspond exactly to what we would expect in the eUpgrade chart for a flight of 2,295 miles within North America:

  • 7 eUpgrade credits + an add-on fee for Economy (Standard)
  • 6 eUpgrade credits for Economy (Flex)
  • 2 eUpgrade credits for Economy (Latitude):

If you have a connecting Air Canada flight, be sure to double-check the eUpgrade availability on both flights. Even if only one flight has eUpgrade space, it will display “Eligible for eUpgrade” in the results.

If there isn’t eUpgrade space on your preferred flight, you will be waitlisted. The means that your eUpgrade will only confirm prior to your flight if eUpgrade space becomes available and you’re within the eUpgrade clearance window for your status, fare, and routing.

If you can’t confirm an upgrade prior to departure, you’ll be waitlisted for an upgrade at the gate.

More About eUpgrade Waitlist Ranking

In summary, if there is eUpgrade space available on your flight, you can apply eUpgrades to your booking and instantly confirm an upgrade, as long as you are within the eUpgrade clearance window and as long as you have eUpgrades that are valid for the date of travel.

If you book an Economy (Latitude) or Premium Economy (Flexible) fare, you can instantly confirm an eUpgrade without being subject to the eUpgrade clearance window, as long as you have eUpgrades that are valid for the date of travel and as long as there is eUpgrade space on the flight. 

If you’ve done your homework and want to go ahead with redeeming an eUpgrade, you’ll follow a simple process to finally use your eUpgrades on a booking.

How to Use eUpgrades on a Booking

The process of actually using eUpgrades is quite simple when compared to calculating how many you need and finding out if there is eUpgrade space or not. There won’t be any surprises if you’ve gone through the due diligence of the aforementioned steps.

eUpgrade requests can be made online at any point after booking. We’ll outline the steps you need to take below.

eUpgrade requests can also be made at the airport on the day of travel.

More About Using eUpgrades at the Airport

Step 1: Do your research

Using the information outlined above, the first step is to find out whether or not there is eUpgrade space for your preferred cabin on your preferred flight.

You don’t have to complete this step, especially if you’re OK with leaving it to chance, but this is the most commonly overlooked step in using eUpgrades effectively.

Step 2: Make your booking

Once you’ve settled on a flight routing and cost (either cash or Aeroplan points), go ahead and make your booking. Be sure to attach your Aeroplan number when filling out your passenger information.

If someone else makes a booking for you, you can manually add your Aeroplan number after the booking was made using the “Manage my Booking” tab on Air Canada’s website. 

Step 3: Apply your eUpgrades

As soon as you have a booking reference, you can go ahead and apply your eUpgrades.

To do so, you can either click the eUpgrade button on the “Manage my Booking” page:

Or, you can sign-in to your Aeroplan account and navigate to the eUpgrade landing page. Locate your booking and click on “Retrieve booking.”

Using either method, you’ll arrive at the same screen. 

On this screen, simply tick the box next to the cabin to which you’d like to upgrade. Then, scroll down to the bottom of the screen for a summary.

The next page just shows a summary of your eUpgrade.

If there are any add-on fees, you can enter in payment information here. Note that you’re only charged the add-on fees if your eUpgrade clears.

Click on “I accept. Purchase” at the bottom of the page, and your eUpgrade request will be processed. A confirmation page confirms what has just transpired, and you are now free to select your shiny new seat in your better class of service.

You’ll receive an email and a text message confirming that your eUpgrade has been processed. At this point, the hard work is over, and hopefully you’ve scored yourself a great deal.

In your booking reference, you’ll also be able to see the confirmation of your eUpgrade, as “Upgraded to Business Class” will show up on the page.

How to Waitlist for an eUpgrade

If you aren’t able to confirm an upgrade right away (perhaps because eUpgrade space isn’t available, or you are outside of your clearance window), you can also waitlist for an upgrade.

Once you’ve made your eUpgrade request, “Waitlisted for Business Class” will appear next to your city pair.

If you are outside of your eUpgrade clearance window, you can waitlist for an eUpgrade as long as you have eUpgrades that are valid for the date of travel. Once your clearance window hits, if there is eUpgrade space available at that time, your eUpgrade will instantly clear.

In fact, I’d strongly suggest applying eUpgrades immediately after booking, as your eUpgrade will clear automatically. If you forget to go back and apply eUpgrades within your clearance window, somebody else might have beat you to it.

Furthermore, you can waitlist an upgrade if you are okay with taking a bit of a gamble with your cabin class.

For example, purchasing Economy (Latitude) or Premium Economy (Flexible) fares often comes with a very hefty price tag. If you’re not comfortable with the higher price, then you can always book a lower fare and hope that your eUpgrade will clear closer to the date of departure.

This is more so the case with cash fares than with Aeroplan points. The difference between an Economy (Flex) and an Economy (Latitude) fare in cash is often significant, while the difference between an Economy (Flex) and an Economy (Latitude) fare with Aeroplan points isn’t proportionally as significant. 

For cash fares, purchasing a Premium Economy (Lowest) fare and waitlisting for an eUpgrade will put you ahead of anyone who booked in any fare in economy class.

So, you have the advantage of being higher on the waitlist if you are unable to clear prior to departure, and if your eUpgrade doesn’t clear, at least you’re already in a slightly better class of service.

Book in premium economy to better your chances at clearing an eUpgrade waitlist

How to Share eUpgrades with Others

Another common question about eUpgrades is how to share them with others.

It is possible to use your eUpgrade credits with one other person travelling on the same reservation as you, as well as one additional person travelling on the same flight. There are some very important considerations to understand when using your eUpgrades with other passengers.

The eUpgrade holder may share their eUpgrades with one other person travelling on the same reservation as them. This means that an eUpgrade to a higher class of service can be confirmed for the eUpgrade holder and one other person on the same booking reference, following all of the aforementioned criteria (i.e., eUpgrade availability, eUpgrade validity, eUpgrade clearance window).

In addition to this, the eUpgrade holder may request an eUpgrade for a third person travelling on the same flight as them, but they can only do so at the airport on the day of travel. This third person does not need to be travelling on the same booking reference as the eUpgrade holder.

Use eUpgrades to confirm upgrades to business class for up to two more people

This brings the total number of passengers for whom an eUpgrade holder can use their eUpgrades to three.

The only exception to this is the Super Elite eUpgrade Nominee, which would raise the number of people for whom eUpgrades may be used from a single account to four.

Except in the case of the Super Elite eUpgrade Nominee, you cannot use your eUpgrades for anyone if you’re not travelling on the same flight as the eUpgrade account holder. For example, if your mom is flying from Toronto to St. John’s and you’re staying at home, you cannot make an eUpgrade request for her.

Any eUpgrade requests for companions travelling on the same reservation as an Aeroplan Elite Status member will clear with the same priority as the elite member themselves (on a space-available basis).

Air Canada A220 business class

For groups of more than two passengers, such as families, who tend to travel together often, the ideal strategy would be for at least two members to pursue Aeroplan Elite Status. Doing so would result in four passengers being able to instantly confirm an eUpgrade. 

For anyone with 75K or Super Elite status who travels in groups, it could be very worthwhile to consider selecting the 35K or 50K status gift for another group member as one of your Select Benefits. Doing so would add additional eUpgrades to the available pool.

The Downside(s) to Air Canada eUpgrades

While strategically making use of eUpgrades can save thousands of dollars or Aeroplan points, there are also some downsides that are commonly overlooked.

The most common downside to using eUpgrades is that Air Canada is only obliged to honour the original cabin class into which you booked. 

For example, if you book in economy and confirm an eUpgrade, and then encounter a flight delay or cancellation that requires you to be rebooked, Air Canada is only obligated to rebook you in economy:

  • If Air Canada must re-accommodate a number of passengers due to missed connections, the passengers who originally booked in business class will be rebooked in business class, meaning that you might be downgraded to your original booking class.
  • If an aircraft is downsized from, say, a Boeing 777 to a Boeing 787, the resulting fewer number of business class seats may result in your eUpgrade getting removed if the new cabin is full.
  • If Air Canada has to make space for deadheading pilots on a route, your eUpgrade may be downgraded to the original booking class.
There’s a small chance you can be downgraded when using eUpgrades.

The only way to secure a seat in business class is to book a seat in business class to begin with. While relatively rare, instances of last-minute downgrading on eUpgrade requests do happen, and it’s always quite bothersome.

Also consider that if you use eUpgrades on a cash booking, you will only be credited with Status Qualifying Miles, Segments, and Dollars as per your original booking class. You won’t enjoy the same earning rates as someone who booked in business class to begin with.

Lastly, another downside would be the potential add-on fees of requesting eUpgrades from the lower fare categories, which may wind up costing more than paying for a higher fare to begin with. This is particularly the case with international flights, where add-on fees can be $500 or more. 

By properly considering all factors before making your booking, you can avoid unnecessarily being out of pocket with both cash and eUpgrades.

Conclusion

Air Canada eUpgrades are a complex, if not byzantine, beast. Many travellers don’t fully understand, or misunderstand, how eUpgrades work, which could result in frustration and endless waitlisting.

This guide to eUpgrades covers everything you need to know about eUpgrades and how to make full use of them. 

eUpgrades can be incredibly valuable and powerful for flying in business class for the price of economy, and are indeed one of the best perks for attaining Aeroplan Elite Status.

58 Comments
  1. Ken

    If my status expires at the end of this year, but my eUpgrade credits expire at the end of next year, am I still able to use them even without my status anymore?

    1. T.J. YQQ

      You’ll only be able to use them for Premium Economy (Flexible) or Economy (Latitude) fares within 7 days of departure.

  2. Donald Dayton

    I am looking at using my e upgrades for a European Trip in May of next year. Cost is 11 upgrades but I have an expiry of 40 upgrades in Jan. I hold a premium credit card so the upgrades will roll over. But do I have to wait to Jan to book, or can I use those upgrades now.

    1. T.J. YQQ

      You can book now, but you won’t be able to do the eUpgrade until you have eUpgrades that are valid for the date of travel.

    2. Marc

      You will have to wait

  3. Stephen

    Great post as usual TJ, I have a quick question, if I hold a premium aeroplan co-branded credit card, will I be able to rollover my eupgrade credits from 2022 to 2023 even if I don’t have 25k status for 2023? thanks in advance

  4. Yanny

    I plan to book a trip from YYZ to PVR for me and my parents using my Aeroplan point under same reservation. Am I able to use eupgrades for both of my parents online or only one of them?

    1. T.J. YQQ

      You can use eUpgrades for one of them at the time of booking and another on the day of travel at the airport. I’d suggest booking yourself and one parent on a single reservation, and the other parent on a separate one. You can call Aeroplan and ask them to “link” the bookings.

  5. Ian

    If I apply for an eUpgrade from economy (Flex) to Business Class and am waitlisted, if my upgrade doesn’t clear will I automatically be put on the list for an upgrade to premium economy (which presumably will have lower eUpgrade and cash costs)?

    1. T.J. YQQ

      Yes. If you waitlist for business class, you’re automatically waitlisted for premium economy, too. Premium economy has lower eUpgrade and add-on fees.

      1. Brian

        In order to be automatically added to premium economy if applying for an eupgrade for business class, do you need to have a specific class economy ticket? When I submitted my eupgrade to business I noticed that my name was listed only on business eupgrade waitlist but others had their names listed in both sections business and premium economy. I assumed that perhaps you need to apply for both eupgrades separately, but system does not allow that, my original ticket was M based air canada fare, thanks!

  6. Nick

    I’m curious to hear more about all the cancelled upgrades.

    I booked YUL-FCO & BRU-YYZ – both had confirmed business class upgrades. A month later they “downgraded” us on both flights, and returned our e-upgrade credits.

    1. T.J. YQQ

      Hmm. Was there an aircraft downgrade to a smaller plane? I’d say it’s worth a call to AC (don’t call Aeroplan – they’ll defer anything eUpgrade related to AC) to see what happened.

    2. John Bucher

      Whoa I’m really interested in what happened to you.
      I have flights YYZ to DXB and from ZRH to YYZ booked using e-upgrades.
      I would be interested in finding out the chances and reasons for a downgrade back to economy as this would kill the latitude attitude experience !
      When I see confirmed I assume it means confirmed.
      Although Benny Hill always said, “ assume often makes an ass out of u and me”

      1. T.J. YQQ

        Confirmed eUpgrade usually means confirmed, but the only way to ensure you have a seat in business class is to book in business class to begin with. There’s always a small chance this will happen.

  7. Kendall

    I guess you can’t use eUpgrades if you booked your ticket with a 50k Flight Reward from the Chase Aeroplan card.

    I booked a latitude fare with R space, and when I manage my booking to do an eupgrade, it says Not Available.

    A very annoying and unexpected problem to encounter after spending all day planning & booking my trip

    1. T.J. YQQ

      If you’re getting an error when there is indeed R space on a booking, sometimes the website will show waitlisted instead of confirmed. Give Air Canada a call and have them try to apply the eUpgrade manually.

      1. Kendall

        Im assuming this paragraph from the eupgrade policy means that I can’t use them in conjunction with the Chase vouchers

        “ Unless otherwise specified, eUpgrades may not be used in conjunction with promotional pass travel or travel industry discount fares, unless otherwise indicated”

        The eupgrade page on manage my booking says that the fare I purchased isn’t eligible for eupgrade.

        Does it matter if I have a partner airline on the same itinerary?

    2. Nick

      This has also happened to me. Expertflyer and AC both show space, then when you book it says “waitlist”.

      1. Michael M

        When this happened to me, I called Aeroplan (or Air Canada?) and selected the eUpgrade option to talk to someone. They could see I had just gotten my Latitude ticket, was waitlisted, but there was space, so they put me in manually.

  8. Sean

    Tj, any details or best practices on how to handle the waitlist at the gate? Do you board in your zone or wait? Can and how do you request an upgrade at the gate?

  9. Rafael

    If I use my worldwide companion pass – valid on economy only – to buy a Latitude fare, does the companion pass ticket also gets issued with the latitude fare? This would greatly enhance the value of this worldwide companion pass to use with Eupgrades

    1. T.J. YQQ

      It is indeed valid for buying Latitude fares. Keep in mind that they’re usually quite expensive, but if you’re getting a discounted 2nd Latitude fare, it could very well be a good use.

  10. Lisa

    Thanks for all the helpful details, T.J. I was wondering, if Air Canada cannot honour the upgrade on a flight will eUpgrades be redeposited in my account? One thing I find frustrating with eUpgrades is when, for example, I try to book a flight with two or more segments, like for example YUL-YYZ-HKG (directly in my Aeroplan account) and it shows ‘’eligible for upgrading’’ but only on YUL-YYZ!! A bit frustrating. I suppose that’s when ExpertFlyer is more useful.

    1. T.J. YQQ

      If your eUpgrade doesn’t clear, the eUpgrades are deposited back into your account. Keep an eye on them, though, and if they don’t come back in, just submit a “Missing eUpgrade Request” and someone will look into it. I agree that the waitlist/eligible should be more transparent.

  11. C. Lau

    What did you update in this repost?

  12. John

    Is it possible to use my Eupgrades at checkin for P3 who is currently on same flights booked in J (lowest) where first segment is in PY (N) and only second is in actual J. Wondering if Eupgrades can be used to waitlist P3 in first segment to actual J? Doesn’t mention it anywhere in charts.

    1. T.J. YQQ

      I don’t see why not! It sounds like it will be a regular day-of-travel request. Let us know how it goes!

  13. Dave

    I’m new to the eUpgrade world. Traveling from Paris to Toronto and have an offer of 14 credits + $237 for my wife and I (presumably it’s for both of us…) to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy. Is this a reasonable deal or should I save these credits for a first class upgrade in North America? Thanks!

  14. Greer Clarkechugh

    I need 22 eupgrades to upgrade 2 adults from Prem Econ to Business, but I only have 20 eUpgrades. Can I buy the missing 2 eUpgrades?

  15. Gustav

    Am planning to use eupgrades Latitude attitude to upgrade to Business on a rewards trip to India for myself and P2, but only have 20 eupgrades each. Upgrading one way for both will consume 13 eupgrades each, is it possible to combine remaining 7 + 7 eupgrades to get one of us upgraded to business for the return? If this requires us to make seperate bookings then can we still combine eupgrades of two people (on separate bookings/same flight) to upgrade one return from latitude to Business (requires 13 credits)? alternately will upgrade return to Premium eco for both (7 upgrades each) but would prefer a lie-flat business seat on a 15 hour journey at least for P2 (and maybe we can switch mid-flight)

    1. Ricky YVR

      Unfortunately, you can’t pool eUpgrades between accounts, so business in one direction and premium economy in the other direction for both of you might be your best bet.

  16. JL

    I applied for and was approved for the AmEx Aeroplan Reserve on February 26th. At the end of February my eUpgrade credits from 2020 disappeared. Does anyone know how I get these credits re-instated? I called AC but they said I have to submit a request to CS via e-mail, which I did. Is there an easier way? Has anyone else had this happen?

  17. Victoria

    When travelling with more than 2 people, can you now upgrade ahead of time for all those on your itinerary or can you lock in for yourself and one other and then put the 3rd person on an upgrade waitlist… or would it be better to book just 2 people on one with the person with status and the 3rd on their own? That third either get them on the list at the airport or do an AC upgrade bid… I am just wondering if by having more than 2 on your itinerary that it impedes locking in an upgrade for most of the party beforehand and we would have to wait until day of to see if we get one….

  18. TR

    I am SE100K member and I have an Amex Aeroplan Reserve and TD Infinite Aeroplan credit card. I rarely use eupgrades but today I booked a Latitude fare using Aeroplan points and tried to use my eupgrades. Prior to booking the flight I checked the AC website using the eupgrades filter which showed that “seats are available for upgrade”, however my request for an upgrade is in “waitlisted” status. The plane is empty and when I called AC concierge it turns out that no R class fares are available for our outbound flight (787-8 YYZ-HNL).

    It would be good to mention this to consumers in your blog where just because you have eupgrades, booked a Latitude or Premium Eco Flex fare, the plane is completely empty and on the AC website it shows “seats are available for upgrade” there is NO guarantee that your request will granted.

    I spent 2 hours on the phone with 5 different agents (most were rude and not at all knowledgeable with eupgrades). Issue is not yet resolved. Last I was told that by one agent Jeremy that “you are a SE member and you should know how eupgrades works and that your request will clear only a day before the flight”… and another agent who said “this is above my pay grade and something the Revenue Management team handles”. Anyways I took screenshots of the issue and hoping someone from customer support or loyalty will assist.

    1. Rafael

      I believe This was mentioned in the post on clear terms: R (for business) and N (for premium economy) must be a available otherwise you won’t be upgraded. Not at least until the check in closes, you have a “live” request and there are free seats (happened to me a few weeks ago VCE-YYZ) a few minutes before boarding. I guess someone didn’t show up or didn’t make a connection. I’m 75K with a premium aeroplan credit card and it didn’t clear anywhere within the windows

    2. Rod

      Although uncommon, I have also encountered this same issue recently. I am SE100k and booked 2 Latitude fare tickets (one cash the other Aeroplan) as seats were available for upgrade. After booking both reservations showed up as waitlisted. The cash ticket cleared and I received the eupgrade 1 month after making the reservation, and am still waiting on the Aeroplan eupgrade to clear (there are still seats available to upgrade – my flight is still 3 months away). Calls and email to Conceirge have not resolved the issue to date (with screenshots, etc).

      1. Rafael

        I think It was a lot easier to get the upgrades before travel opened up again full blast. Probably there’s a lot less R and N space available right now, at least on popular routes / times

  19. Nargis Kheraj

    Can the eupgrades be used for international travel on non- AC flights, but part of the Aeroplan ticket? Flying from Canada to Europe on AC and Lufthansa.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Nope – Air Canada-operated flights only.

  20. Peter

    Do we know what each eUpgrade is worth in CAD? I’m sure AC isn’t losing much money on these credits and have factored their value into the distance and class purchased. Similar to the value of Aeroplan Points in your post I’d be curious to know what these credits are worth to compare other options such as bid upgrades, latitude fares + eUpgrades or using Aeroplan points to upgrade etc.
    Thanks!

  21. Less than average Dave

    Theoretically: can any one please tell me how many eUpgrade credits I would have in my account on the day I reach SuperElite100k? Assuming I have used none, and assuming I select the privileges that give you eUpgrades. I agree with Ave Joe – I need a PhD to understand this!

  22. Joe

    Wow, I am traveling on Friday and a few days ago the upgrade was 11 credits & $125 YOW-YYZ-YYC. Something told me not too as just two weeks ago it was only 111 credits and no co-pay. Last night I upgraded with only 10 credits and no co-pay. I like the new chart!

  23. Brian

    Echo Average Joe; clear as mud but it covers the ground. Still a reflection of AC and not a good one.

  24. don

    These are some comments on the opacity of the current system and the frustration of dealing with Air Canada.. I am an Elite 50K member and typically have used my e upgrades on flights between Calgary and Toronto from Flex or its equivalent to Business. I booked return Flex fares from Calgary to TO for this week and was charged 11 upgrade credits for the outgoing trip on September 30th for a business class upgrade. This was not inconsistent with my past experience. However I was charged 10 credits plus $125 for the return trip When I phoned AC and asked why the cash was required they told me that they were different classes of ticket for outgoing versus return. I said well they were both Flex fares and she then told me that there had been a sale on that ended October 1 that waived the fee. I told her that never before has a cash payment been required from me for this upgrade and it seemed like an uncommunicated change in policy and then an uncommunicated sale on that policy. I spent about an hour on the phone and did not receive any satisfactory answer. In both cases I was charged more than would be the case on the new system.

  25. ww

    am i missing something here but how many points is a upgrade credit?
    how does the currency of credits translate into aeroplan points?

    1. yyc

      You earn eUpgrade credits as an elite member starting at 25k. This is separate from upgrades using points, which I assume will be announced later in the future.

      1. ww

        I see, thanks so much. As you can tell I am not an elite member.

  26. Mitch

    The requirements seem roughly similar as before, requiring a degree in linear algebra to make sense of. However, having travel companions clear at your status level is a major victory. I’ve had to turn down upgrades so as to not aggravate my SO in the process which really undermined the value of status.

  27. Average Joe

    I still need a PHD to understand this.

    1. Ricky YVR

      To be fair, it’s still a pretty complex system, but it kind of needs to be given how many upgrade possibilities there are. The easiest place to start would be to think about which Aeroplan Elite Status you’re likely to achieve, and thus how many eUpgrade credits you’ll earn. Then you can start looking at the numbers on the chart to see which types of upgrades you can request and how many per year.

  28. TimYYC YYC

    Ricky, is the implication here that we can’t get Comfort fare with Aeroplan points?

    1. Ricky YVR

      Correct. This is reflected in the new change fee charts too – there is no Comfort fare class available, only Standard, Flex, and Latitude.

  29. leah

    what do current aeroplan economy bookings fare class code at? Just for reference on upgrades required?

    1. Ricky YVR

      I would assume Standard too.

    2. Alex YWG

      I booked a round trip ticket YWG-YYZ for summer of 2021 using aeroplan and on 1 of the emails it had my fare as “standard”. Hope that helps

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