How to Maximize Air Canada eUpgrades for Americans

One of the attractions of the newly-launched Chase Aeroplan Card is easy access to Aeroplan Elite Status. As part of the introductory offer, cardholders are granted the lowest tier of status, Aeroplan 25K, which is valid through to the end of 2023.

One of the benefits with Aeroplan 25K status is having access to eUpgrades, which can be used to upgrade from a lower to a higher class of service on flights operated by Air Canada.

This post looks at eUpgrades from an American perspective, including a brief overview of eUpgrades, how to earn them, and how to best redeem them.

What Are eUpgrades?

eUpgrades are credits given to those with Air Canada’s Aeroplan Elite Status. These credits can be used to upgrade from a lower class of service (e.g., economy class) to a higher class of service (e.g., premium economy or business Class).

eUpgrades may be used on both cash and Aeroplan reward bookings.

The number of eUpgrades required for a booking depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • the region to which you are travelling
  • the distance of the flight(s)
  • the booking class (which fare you purchased)
  • whether you booked with cash or points

In addition to the above, you are also subject to the eUpgrade clearance window, which determines how far in advance you can instantly confirm an eUpgrade. This depends on:

  • your Aeroplan Elite Status level
  • your destination
  • the fare you are booked in

Generally speaking, higher fares require fewer eUpgrades, and lower fares require more eUpgrades. Lower fares may have an additional co-pay amount, too, which is a cash add-on fee that you must pay.

While understanding the many complexities of eUpgrades can take a long time, one of the best ways to maximize them is by adopting the “Latitude Attitude”

Latitude fares are the highest fare option in economy class on both cash and Aeroplan bookings. Of particular interest to using eUpgrades, Latitude fares are not subject to an eUpgrade clearance window. 

This means that as long as there is eUpgrade availability available, and as long as you have eUpgrades that are valid on the date of travel, you can instantly confirm a seat in a higher class of service by using eUpgrades.

To find out if your flight has eUpgrade space available, do an Aeroplan search for flights as you normally would. On the results page, click on “Display options”, select “eUpgrades” and your desired class of service.

The search results will repopulate and show an arrow if there is eUpgrade space available or a clock, if you will instead be waitlisted.

By selecting the Economy or Premium Economy fare, you are presented with the cost in points for each fare as well as the number of eUpgrades required.

You can refer to our detailed guide on the “Latitude Attitude” for further details about this Aeroplan sweet spot. In summary, the steps are as follows:

  1. Confirm if there is eUpgrade space on your desired flights.
  2. Book an Economy (Latitude) fare using Aeroplan points.
  3. Instantly confirm an eUpgrade to your desired class of service.

For a deeper understanding of eUpgrades, you can refer to the many more resources we have here on Prince of Travel.

Earning eUpgrades

eUpgrades are earned by obtaining Aeroplan Elite Status. As part of the card’s initial launch, Chase Aeroplan Card holders are granted Aeroplan 25K status through to the end of 2023. 

As part of the Core Benefits for 25K status, you will receive 20 eUpgrade credits at the beginning of each benefit year.

For your Select Benefits, which must be chosen each year, you can receive another 5 eUpgrade credits, for a total of 25.

Furthermore, those who had opted-in to the Chase Aeroplan Card’s waitlist offer for this new card are eligible to receive an additional 10 eUpgrades. 

Thus, anyone who signed up for the Chase Aeroplan World Elite Mastercard will have up to 35 eUpgrades at their disposal for 2022.

As eUpgrades are only valid for use on flights operated by Air Canada, their use necessitates flying from the United States to Canada for a transborder flight or through Canada to connect to international destinations serviced by Air Canada. 

Let’s have a closer look at using eUpgrades and some examples for American travellers to maximize the Latitude Attitude.

For the below examples, we’ll assume that you have access to 35 eUpgrades that were obtained through the Chase Aeroplan Card’s introductory offer.

Using eUpgrades on Transborder Flights

Air Canada offers flights between a host of American cities and its four main Canadian hubs in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. 

Between some major hubs, Air Canada operates a three-cabin aircraft, giving you the choice between economy, premium economy, and Signature Class (business class). The last option has lie-flat pods to make your flight across the continent as comfortable as possible.

We will begin by looking at using eUpgrades on two transborder routes that offer Signature Class: Toronto–Los Angeles and Newark–Vancouver. 

On a random date for a flight between Los Angeles and Toronto, the Aeroplan redemption values range from 10,300 points (Economy Standard) to 103,800 points (Business Class Lowest). The cost for Premium Economy is a reasonable 17,800 points, but let’s suppose that flying in a lie-flat pod is a must.

Recall that with Economy (Latitude) fares, you can confirm an eUpgrade at any time, as long as you have eUpgrades that are valid for the date of travel and as long as there is eUpgrade space on that flight.

In this example, booking in Economy (Latitude) for 21,800 Aeroplan points and using 4 eUpgrade credits to instantly confirm an upgrade to business class will have saved you a whopping 82,000 Aeroplan points!

As an added bonus, Latitude fares are fully refundable, meaning that you won’t be charged a cancellation fee should your plans change.

Air Canada also operates a three-cabin aircraft between Newark and Vancouver. Let’s have another look at how the “Latitude Attitude” can save you a ton of points.

For this flight, the cost in points ranges from 13,200 in points Economy (Standard) to 105,800 points in Business Class (Lowest). Again, the cost in Premium Economy (Lowest) is reasonable at 18,500, but let’s assume that you insist on flying in the forward cabin.

Booking in Economy (Latitude) for 24,700 points and using 4 eUpgrade credits, you’ll be able to instantly confirm a seat in business class. This will have saved you 81,100 Aeroplan points to use on another redemption in the future.

Using eUpgrades on International Flights

While using eUpgrades for transborder flights can net you some solid savings, perhaps the best application is done on international flights with Air Canada.

For over a year, Aeroplan members have been subject to the new Flight Reward Chart as part of the program’s 2020 relaunch.

Flights between North America and Europe were particularly hard hit compared to the older chart. However, having access to eUpgrades and using the “Latitude Attitude” can significantly lower the amount of points needed to cross the Atlantic.

Flying to Europe

Let’s say that Sandra from San Francisco wants to fly to Paris for a summer holiday using Aeroplan points. She’d like to bring her best friend along with her.

A search shows a direct flight with United available in economy class for 40,000 Aeroplan points per person. Flying in coach isn’t really her thing, so she looks at other available options.

She notices an option to fly via Montreal with a nice connection, but the cost in business class is 99,200 Aeroplan points. 

Since she has Aeroplan 25K status, she notices that when booked in Economy (Latitude), the same flights cost 65,100 Aeroplan points plus 11 eUpgrade credits per person. In total, this saves her 68,200 Aeroplan points (when booking for two). 

Flying to Asia

For another example, let’s suppose Pavel from Portland wants to fly to Tokyo this summer using the Aeroplan points he earned by signing up for the Chase Aeroplan Card.

He notices a nice single-connection flight via Vancouver, but isn’t keen on the cost of 149,500 Aeroplan points for a one-way flight in business class.

The Latitude fare for this flight is a much more digestible 50,200 Aeroplan points, and he decides that parting with 11 eUpgrade credits is well worth the savings. He also avoids paying a nasty co-pay amount by booking in Latitude.

Flying to Australia

Lastly, Shannon from Chicago has been waiting for years to fly to Australia. She isn’t very keen on flying and wants the most direct route possible, but she also wants to fly in business class.

She spends hours searching for flights to Australia from Los Angeles and San Francisco, but is disappointed to see that the options with United are only available in economy class. It is possible to fly via Asia, but she’d really prefer not to.

After reading through the many resources here on Prince of Travel, she decides to look for eUpgrade space on the direct Air Canada flight between Vancouver and Sydney. Since there’s a direct flight between Chicago and Vancouver, she considers this to be the best available option.

Her initial search result doesn’t yield much hope, as the cost in Business Class (Lowest) is an astounding 263,100 Aeroplan points in one direction.

But, to her delight, she finds that eUpgrade space is available on both flights. She opts to spend 67,500 Aeroplan points on Economy (Latitude) and use 13 eUpgrade credits to instantly confirm an upgrade to business class on both flights.

With that, she’s just saved herself 195,600 Aeroplan points and adhered to all of her flying preferences on her way down under.

Conclusion

Air Canada eUpgrades allow travellers to instantly upgrade to business class on Economy (Latitude) bookings, including those booked with Aeroplan points. 

It’s a unique way to get around Aeroplan’s dynamic pricing on Air Canada flights, and can be a great benefit for Chase Aeroplan Card applicants who are looking to travel internationally in a premium cabin.

New cardholders who sign up via the waitlist offer will hold 35 eUpgrade credits for the 2022 benefit year, which will allow them to upgrade at least one round-trip long-haul journey to Air Canada’s Signature Class cabin while only paying a slight premium over the cheapest economy class flight. 

Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have about eUpgrades, or consult any of our numerous guides on the topic as you learn more about the program.

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