For the most frequent travellers who attain elite status year after year, how does an airline recognize their long-term loyalty?
We have covered Air Canada’s Aeroplan Elite Status extensively. In this post, we will take a peek at the Air Canada Million Mile program, which effectively functions as Air Canada’s lifetime elite status program.
Why Million Mile Status?
I suppose that using 1,000,000 miles as a threshold aligns with other significant achievements in life: being a millionaire in cash or in points, getting a million views on YouTube, or eating your millionth parsley omelette.
(Indeed, Million Mile status is not to be confused with earning a million Aeroplan points, which is a far easier achievement.)
Before I dive into the details of the program, I want to reflect at how much paid flying is required to reach this threshold.
In 2019, one of my busiest travel years, I covered around 65,000 miles in the air. This was all done on points, so none of it counted towards mileage accumulation with any airline.
Prior to flying on points, I tended to buy the lowest fare available. As miles flown on lower fares only allow for earning a percentage of actual miles flown, even though I’ve mostly flown with Air Canada over my lifetime, I have only accumulated a paltry 28,723 Lifetime Qualifying Miles.
I don’t imagine that I’ll ever join the Million Mile club, but for those who are close, have already done so, or are just curious – here’s how the program works.
Qualifying for Million Mile Status
To qualify as a “Million Miler”, you must have flown at least 1,000,000 Lifetime Qualifying Miles with Air Canada.
Miles earned by flying with Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, and Air Canada Express any time after 1988 will count towards Million Mile status. Any Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) earned as a bonus from purchasing a business class fare or with the purchase of an Unlimited Flight Pass also count.
Note that all other SQM earned through credit card spending or flying with Star Alliance airlines does not count as Lifetime Qualifying Miles.
To check your progress, log in to your Aeroplan account and click through to “My Aeroplan.” Under the “Status” tab, scroll down to the bottom of page to see how many Lifetime Qualifying Miles you’ve earned.
One Million Miles
Under the Air Canada Million Mile Program, there are four Million Mile Status thresholds: 1,000,000, 2,000,000, 3,000,000, and 4,000,000 miles.
Upon reaching 1,000,000 Lifetime Qualifying Miles, you will receive a welcome package with a membership card and special luggage tags. I’m not sure where you’d get to flex a membership card, but the luggage tags let others know that you know your way around the skies.
While luggage tags are indeed a nice gesture, the main benefit of reaching this mark is that you will enjoy Aeroplan 50K Status for the rest of your life. So, you are spared the hustle of reaching SQM/SQS and SQD thresholds ever again.
Having ongoing 50K status will afford you a number of perks, including:
- Complimentary Maple Leaf Lounge and Star Alliance Gold Lounge access for you and a guest
- Priority airport services
- Up to 40 eUpgrades each year
- Three checked bags at 32kg each on Air Canada and Star Alliance flights
At the very least, you can rest assured that your airport experience will be less frustrating with priority check-in, priority security, priority boarding, and priority baggage services. I have come to appreciate these greatly over the past two years in which I have enjoyed Aeroplan Elite Status.
Having access to lounges of your choosing is another great benefit of 50K status. Not only can you and a guest access any Maple Leaf Lounge, you can also choose to lounge-hop at your leisure to any Star Alliance lounge worldwide.
Why not enjoy a Singapore Sling at a Singapore Airlines lounge, then pop into a Lufthansa lounge to enjoy a warm pretzel and beer, before stopping by a Turkish Airlines lounge for some pide and then finally to a Maple Leaf Lounge for some Canadian comforts?
Million Milers also enjoy having up to 40 eUpgrades at their disposal each year. 20 of these come as a Core Benefit and the other 20 may be selected as a Select Benefit.
As eUpgrades can now be used with both Aeroplan and cash bookings (did someone say “Latitude Attitude?”), you’ll have the flexibility to use them to save points or cash by booking in economy and travelling in a higher class of service.
Lastly, having a hefty baggage allowance means that you’ll likely never have to pay baggage fees again. If you’re on a trip with family members, you can check in all the luggage under your name to save on baggage fees.
Two Million Miles
Upon reaching 2,000,000 Lifetime Qualifying Miles, your status will always be at least Aeroplan 75K, and a person of your choice will enjoy Aeroplan 50K Status for the rest of their life, too.
For doubling up from 1,000,000 miles, you get a bump in status and someone else gets to reap the benefits from all of your air travel.
The differences between 75K and 50K aren’t that stark. As a 75K, you get a complimentary preferred seat on Flex fares in all markets, guaranteed reservations in economy class, and a better offering for your Select Benefits (see below).
If you earn Priority Rewards through paid flights, as a 75K they are valid for economy and premium economy bookings worldwide, whereas for a 50K they are only good for the same classes in North America and Sun destinations.
When choosing to whom you will gift lifetime Aeroplan 50K status, there are several considerations:
- You could gift it to a young person who will then be able to enjoy the benefits over a long period of time. It would be important to consider how much they are likely to travel, but that may change over the course of their lifetime.
- If you’re a maximizer who often travels on points or cash bookings with your significant other, then it could be worthwhile to gift the status to the person with whom you most often travel. If both select eUpgrades as one of their Select Benefits, then you’d have 95 eUpgrades to use between both accounts over the course of the year.
- This could be boosted further if the 75K gifts 35K status as another one of their yearly Select Benefits to a third family member. This would add another 30 eUpgrades to the total available eUpgrades across three accounts, which can cover a lot of ground over the course of a year for a family.
Three Million Miles
At the threshold of 3,000,000 Lifetime Qualifying Miles, you will forever be an Aeroplan Super Elite, and you can nominate someone else for lifetime 50K status.
As we’ve detailed, Super Elites are members of the highest tier in Air Canada’s Aeroplan Elite Status. They are afforded privileges and perks that are not accessible by anyone else.
After having spent 3,000,000 miles in the sky with Air Canada, having Super Elite status for the rest of your life is well deserved. After all, even if you just met the minimum requirements for qualifying for Super Elite every year, it would take you up to 30 years to rack up enough qualifying miles (excluding bonus miles).
Even with lifetime Super Elite status, you’d still need to earn Priority Rewards by meeting Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) thresholds every year.
However, these are the most powerful Priority Rewards anyone can earn, as they halve the amount of points required for Aeroplan business class reward bookings on Air Canada or any partner airline. While you’d have to spend at least $7,000 with Air Canada to earn two Priority Rewards, it could very well save you the equivalent in points or cash.
As before, you could consider gifting the lifetime 50K status to a young traveller to set them up for a lifetime of elevated travel, or to your partner who frequently travels with you.
For Select Benefits, you could enjoy 70 eUpgrade credits per year, which could then be combined with your lifetime 50K nominee’s 40 eUpgrade credits, for a household total of 110.
And if you’d like, you can nominate another person for 50K status as a Select Benefit, which could up your household’s total annual available eUpgrades to 150.
Four Million Miles
The final tier in Air Canada’s Million Miler program is reached after 4,000,000 Lifetime Qualifying Miles. At this point, you’d have circumnavigated the globe just over 160 times. Does it even matter how many miles you’ve flown after this point?
Upon crossing this threshold, the only thing that changes is that the person whom you nominated for lifetime 50K status will now be bumped up to 75K status. You will continue to enjoy the top-tier Super Elite status for life.
This isn’t a huge change from the 3,000,000-mile threshold, especially since the person who does the flying doesn’t have any changes to their benefits. You also don’t have the option of nominating someone other than your initial nominee for 75K status, which I’d argue would be a more valuable perk for reaching this milestone.
Air Canada’s Million Mile program recognizes those who have flown a significant amount with the airline over the years, rewarding them with lifetime Aeroplan Elite Status.
Depending on how often you travel, having lifetime status could be immensely valuable, or it could just be a nice perk to use every now and then when you decide to travel.
The highest level I’ve seen personally is over 3,000,000 flown miles, but I’ve heard stories from very reliable sources about people who have met and exceeded the 4,000,000-mile mark. Furthermore, there’s even one person who has reached the 5,000,000-mile threshold back in 2016.
I can’t imagine doing that much paid flying over my lifetime, but it is a good reminder that there are actually people out there who basically live in the skies.
Whether or not it’s worthwhile to fly with a specific airline over the long term depends on the perks offered. Many other airlines have similar programs, so it would be worthwhile to do some research into which program you find most valuable.
Are you a Million Miler? Do you think it’s worth it to pursue Million Mile status? Would you like to see any additional perks? Feel free to comment below, get in touch on the Prince of Travel Elites Facebook group, or join in the fun on the Prince of Travel Club Lounge on Discord.