Air Canada has historically offered a range of Flight Pass products, which allow purchasers to redeem for a fixed or unlimited number of flights on Air Canada for a certain duration of the Flight Pass in a certain geographic zone. These products have proven popular with business travellers, students, leisure travellers who take frequent weekend trips, or anyone who pays embarks on paid travel with Air Canada with any degree of regularity.
(For some more discussion of Air Canada’s Flight Passes, as well as other airlines’ flight passes from around the world, refer to T.J.’s post on the topic here.)
Today, Air Canada has launched a limited-edition Infinite Canada Flight Pass for this fall, which enables Canadians to travel domestically to their heart’s content. For only one week’s time until September 23, 2020, Canadians will be able to purchase the Infinite Canada Flight Pass starting at $2,000 plus taxes per month, which will give them unlimited travel within Canada for a duration of one, two, or three months.
The Infinite Canada Flight Pass
As far as I know, the Air Canada Infinite Canada Flight Pass is the first product of its kind here in Canada, allowing the purchaser to travel on unlimited flights within the country for the given duration for one flat fee.
There are three possible fare buckets that you can book (Standard, Flex, and Latitude), along with three possible durations (one, two, or three months), resulting in a total of nine possible price points. These are displayed in the chart below (assuming Ontario 13% GST):
The final price you pay will depend on the provincial tax rate of your province of residence, as listed in your Aeroplan account. Note that the Air Canada Infinite Canada Flight Pass is available to Canadian residents only, so there’s no possibility of “tax avoidance” by listing a foreign address in your Aeroplan account in this scenario. Flight Passes cannot be refunded after they are purchased.
The validity period will begin on the date of purchase. So if you bought a one-month pass on September 23, then it’d be valid until October 23. The latest that one of these Flight Passes could be valid for is therefore December 23, 2020 – just in time to kickstart your Christmas trip.
Once you hold an Infinite Canada Flight Pass, you’ll be able to make bookings on Air Canada flights up to one hour before departure, be subject to fare availability in the corresponding fare bucket:
- The Standard Flight Pass will require availability in the “S” fare bucket
- The Flex Flight Pass will require availability in the “M” fare bucket
- The Latitude Flight pass will require availability in the “Y” fare bucket
All these fare buckets fall within the economy class cabin. From there, the treatment of upgrades to business class varies based on the chosen fare class:
- Standard and Flex bookings can be upgraded using eUpgrade instruments, with Flex bookings generally requiring a lower number of eUpgrades and a lower co-pay amount per upgrade compared to Standard bookings
- Latitude bookings can be upgraded in advance using eUpgrade instruments, and can also be upgraded within 48 hours of departure for free, subject to availability in the business class cabin
All passes come with complimentary advance seat selection and complimentary anytime changes. The latter is an especially attractive selling point of these products, as you could easily use the Infinite Canada Flight Pass to travel somewhere, stay for as long as you’d like, and change your next flight to another date without paying any change fees or fare differences – an unlimited number of times.
Do You Earn Aeroplan Miles on the Infinite Canada Flight Pass?
The Infinite Canada Flight Pass will treat Aeroplan miles and status-qualifying miles, segments, and dollars similarly compared to other Unlimited Flight Passes that Air Canada offered in the past.
Because there are no limits to the number of flights one can book under the Flight Pass, Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM) and corresponding Aeroplan miles are awarded at the time of purchase of the Flight Pass, not at the time of flying.
In particular, Infinite Canada Flight Pass purchasers will earn, at each time their credit card is charged:
- 5,000 AQMs and Aeroplan miles per month on the Standard Flight Pass
- 10,000 AQMs and Aeroplan miles per month on the Flex Flight Pass
- 15,000 AQMs and Aeroplan miles per month on the Latitude Flight Pass
On top of these amounts, no AQMs or Aeroplan miles will be awarded every time you fly. The earning of Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS) is also not applicable, while the earning of Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) will be based on the amount of the Flight Pass.
Therefore, the maximum number of redeemable and status-qualifying currencies you can earn from this product is 45,000 Aeroplan miles, 45,000 AQMs, and 15,000 AQD – if you purchased the three-month Latitude Flight Pass for $15,000 plus taxes.
In exchange, you’d get to fly around Air Canada an unlimited number of times for the majority of the rest of 2020, most likely in business class thanks to the complimentary 48-hour upgrades. It’s quite likely that your flying will be truly unlimited, given that the “Y” fare bucket represents full-fare economy, and flights are very likely to remain unfilled for the rest of the year.
These earnings would be almost enough to qualify you for Aeroplan 50K status by the time the new Aeroplan program launches, and the 15,000 AQD would also earn you a total of four Priority Rewards in the new program, which can be used to get an instant 50% discount on any award redemption.
Is This a Good Deal?
The Air Canada Infinite Canada Flight Pass is certainly a creative new offering, and I can see it being attractive to a segment of avid travellers in Canada – but not necessarily to everyone.
A simple Toronto–Vancouver round-trip for random dates in October currently prices at $442 in Standard economy class. The Standard Flight Pass therefore justifies its cost if you happen to be travelling roughly four or five times within Canada per month, if you’re travelling to more expensive cities, or if your travel plans tend to be fluid rather than fixed (remember, even though Air Canada is currently waiving change fees, you still pay the fare difference when you make a change, which wouldn’t be the case if you purchased a Flight Pass).
Personally, I’d be most likely to consider buying either the Standard or Latitude Flight Pass. The Flex Flight Pass is minimally differentiated from the Standard Flight Pass, except for the fact that:
- It books into a higher fare class (“M” instead of “S”, which is more likely to have availability on a given flight, but you likely already have a fair degree of flexibility if you’re buying a Flight Pass in the first place)
- It’d take fewer eUpgrades and a lower co-pay amount to upgrade to business class
- It awards you 5,000 extra AQMs and Aeroplan miles per month
I’d go for the Standard Flight Pass if I simply wanted to explore Canada as much as possible during the validity period and didn’t mind flying in economy class, while I’d consider the Latitude Flight Pass if I wanted to travel in more comfort and upgrade to business class where it’s available (and remember, if business isn’t available, I can always change my flight for free and try to upgrade there).
There are also a few downsides to weigh up, of course:
- The Atlantic provinces and the Territories remain closed to outsiders (with a few exceptions), unless you undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, and there’s no telling whether those requirements will be relaxed anytime soon.
- Air Canada’s domestic route network has been severely curtailed due to the pandemic, so many of the more niche or interesting routes that the airline used to serve have now been suspended indefinitely.
- While there hasn’t been evidence of confirmed COVID-19 transmission onboard a domestic flight, there are still many documented COVID-19 cases in individuals who have travelled onboard domestic flights, so the idea of unlimited domestic travel definitely carries with it a certain degree of risk that you must be comfortable with.
Either way, I think the Air Canada Infinite Canada Flight Pass is a deal at least worth considering for anyone who wants to embark on a series of domestic trips this fall. Jessy and I have do some flexibility to travel this fall, so I’ll be giving it some thought at the very least and making my decision by September 23.
Air Canada is continuing its efforts to play a key role in bringing back travel in Canada, and its limited-edition Infinite Canada Flight Pass is a unique offering that allows Canadians to book unlimited domestic flights for a one-, two-, or three-month period during the rest of 2020.
The price points are competitive compared to other Unlimited Flight Passes that Air Canada previously offered, and certainly may be tempting to anyone who’s comfortable with the risks of flying these days and who’s looking for a little bit of excitement in what has otherwise been a dreary travel year. However, there are also a few downsides to weigh up, and ultimately I’d only expect the most adventurous travellers among us to end up taking advantage of this deal.