Air Canada eUpgrades: How Much Are They Worth?

 

One great feature of Aeroplan Elite Status is the ability to redeem eUpgrades on cash bookings and flight reward redemptions. This allows members to book in economy or premium economy, and use eUpgrade credits to move to a higher class of service.  

One of the questions that often comes up is how much eUpgrades are worth. While it’s not possible to give a definitive number, as there are so many factors at play, we can still estimate approximately how much value you should be able to get from eUpgrades.

Let’s explore the valuation of eUpgrade credits in the most common use-cases, which include booking with Aeroplan points and booking with cash. We’ll explore the difference between booking to premium economy and business class, too, to see if there are any differences.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this analysis.

1. Upgrading to Business Class on Aeroplan Bookings

For the first set of examples, let’s take a look at using eUpgrades with Aeroplan bookings, with the intention of flying in business class.

Valuation Methodology

To establish the value of an eUpgrade credit, we sampled a series of redemptions across domestic, North America & Sun destinations, and international flights.

For each sample search, we converted the prices for a given flight in Economy (Standard, Flex, Comfort, or Latitude) or Premium Economy (Lowest) into cash values using our current valuation of Aeroplan points of 2.1 cents/point, and added any additional co-pay amounts.

We then took the difference to the value of the Business Class (Lowest) redemption tickets, and divided by the number of eUpgrade credits required.

This represents the value unlocked by a single eUpgrade credit in this scenario.


[ Value of Business Class (Lowest) Flight – ( Value of Given Flight + Co-Pay Amount ) ] ÷
Number of eUpgrade Credits Required

 

The tables in this article break down this calculation row-by-row:

  1. Aeroplan points required for a given flight, based on a sample search as an Aeroplan Super Elite member with a premium credit card
  2. eUpgrade credits required to upgrade to business class
  3. Co-pay amount (if any)
  4. Cash cost of redemption: (1) × 2.1 cents/point + (3)
  5. Difference to business class: Difference of (4) between cost of given flight and cost of corresponding business class flight
  6. Value per eUpgrade credit: (5) ÷ (2)

It’s worth acknowledging that, for simplicity’s sake, our calculations here do not account for the role of eUpgrade clearance windows.

While Economy (Latitude) and Premium Economy (Flexible) fares permit eUpgrades at anytime (as long as eUpgrade space is available), all other fares are subject to clearance windows. This puts those with higher status at a greater advantage of having their eUpgrades confirmed than those with lower status on the same fares.

1a. Domestic Flights

The following table shows examples of the cost in points for a variety of flights within Canada with the corresponding eUpgrade values.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Business Class
(Lowest)

Toronto (YYZ) – Vancouver (YVR)

Aeroplan points

11,200

22,200

29,200

34,400

69,200

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

4

4

Co-pay

$150

Cash cost of redemption

$385.20

$466.20

$613.20

$722.40

$1,453.20

Difference to business class

$1,068.00

$987

$840

$730.80

Value per eUpgrade

$97.09

$98.70

$210

$182.70

Vancouver (YVR) – Edmonton (YEG)

Aeroplan points

6,600

16,600

23,600

23,000

eUpgrades to business class

5

4

2

Co-pay

$75

Cash cost of redemption

$213.60

$348.60

$495.60

$483

Difference to business class

$269.40

$134.40

$(12.60)

Value per eUpgrade

$53.88

$33.60

Calgary (YYC) – Montreal (YUL)

Aeroplan points

17,600

28,600

35,600

37,600

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

4

Co-pay

$150

Cash cost of redemption

$519.60

$600.60

$747.60

$789.60

Difference to business class

$270

$189

$42

Value per eUpgrade

$24.54

$18.90

$10.50

For these sample bookings, the values range from $10.50 to $210 per eUpgrade credit, with an average value of $81.10 and a median value of $53.88.

For the flagship flight between Toronto and Vancouver, which offers lie-flat beds, here’s an excellent example of how eUpgrades can help avoid the shock of dynamic pricing. In this case, I’d be getting excellent value both out of my points and my eUpgrade credits. 

For the flight between Vancouver and Edmonton, in most cases I’d likely just tough it out in economy. But, if I had eUpgrades to spare, booking the Economy (Standard) fare for 6,600 Aeroplan points and then combining five eUpgrades with a $75 co-pay, I’d actually be getting pretty decent value.

Furthermore, the $75 co-pay counts towards my Status Qualifying Dollars, which can be helpful if you’re near a threshold either for another status or for Priority Reward.

Lastly, for the flight between Calgary and Montreal on an Airbus A220, the greatest value per eUpgrade credit comes with the Economy (Standard) fare. Even with the $150 co-pay, it could make sense to save the points and supplement the trip with the cash co-pay.

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that the gap between Economy (Standard), Economy (Flex), and Economy (Latitude) has widened by a modest sum as of 2022, compared to as of the Aeroplan program’s relaunch in November 2020.

1b. North America & Sun Destinations

Let’s have a look at some sample eUpgrade values for flights between Canada and the rest of North America, including Sun destinations.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Business Class
(Lowest)

Montreal (YUL) – Puerto Vallarta (PVR)

Aeroplan points

17,600

28,600

35,600

60,700

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

4

Co-pay

$250

Cash cost of redemption

$619.60

$600.60

$747.60

$1,274.70

Difference to business class

$655.10

$674.10

$527.10

Value per eUpgrade

$59.55

$67.41

$131.78

Toronto (YYZ) – Los Angeles (LAX)

Aeroplan points

11,500

22,500

29,500

31,400

121,200

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

4

4

Co-pay

$250

Cash cost of redemption

$491.50

$472.50

$619.50

$659.40

$2,545.20

Difference to business class

$2,053.70

$2,072.70

$1,925.70

$1,885.80

Value per eUpgrade

$186.70

$207.27

$481.43

$471.45

Vancouver (YVR) – Newark (EWR)

Aeroplan points

14,600

25,600

32,600

33,600

108,900

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

4

4

Co-pay

$250

Cash cost of redemption

$556.60

$537.60

$684.60

$705.60

$2,286.90

Difference to business class

$1,730.30

$1,749.30

$1,602.30

$1,581.30

Value per eUpgrade

$157.30

$174.93

$400.58

$395.33

For these examples, the values range from $59.55 to a whopping $481.43 per eUpgrade credit. The average value is $248.52, and the median value is $186.70.

For the flight between Montreal and Puerto Vallarta, I’d definitely be inclined to use the “Latitude Attitude” and instantly confirm an upgrade to business class. It’s a good way to make use of your Aeroplan Elite Status, while avoiding the dynamic pricing for business class.

On both transcontinental routes, we are seeing some great value per eUpgrade credit. 

From Vancouver to New York, the Economy (Latitude) and the Premium Economy (Lowest) fares are roughly equal. They both offer great value for eUpgrade credits, and I’d either be inclined to instantly confirm the business class seat with the Economy (Latitude) fare, or just book the Premium Economy (Lowest) fare, knowing that I’d be first in line for a waitlist upgrade.

Another interesting situation above is on the flight between Toronto and Los Angeles. 

With the inflated Business Class (Lowest) points value on the dynamic pricing scale, again, my inclination would be to either book a Latitude fare and instantly confirm an eUpgrade, or to book a Premium Economy (Lowest) fare and hope to score an outstanding value of $471.45 per eUpgrade.

Even if the latter doesn’t clear, I’d at least have a more comfortable transcontinental flight at a great redemption value, and I wouldn’t be at risk of being in economy class if my eUpgrade gets downgraded.

1c. International Flights

Let’s have a look at what sort of value eUpgrades can unlock on international Aeroplan bookings.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Premium Economy
(Flexible)

Business Class
(Lowest)

Toronto – London (LHR)

Aeroplan points

33,500

44,500

46,200

58,200

56,700

eUpgrades to business class

21

18

12

11

Co-pay

$750

$500

$200

Cash cost of redemption

$1,453.50

$1,434.50

$1,170.20

$1,222.20

$1,190.70

Difference to business class

$(262.80)

$(243.80)

$20.50

$(31.50)

Value per eUpgrade

$1.71

Montreal (YUL) – Casablanca (CMN)

Aeroplan points

40,800

51,800

46,200

58,200

89,400

eUpgrades to business class

21

18

12

11

Co-pay

$750

$500

$200

Cash cost of redemption

$1,606.80

$1,587.80

$1,170.20

$1,222.20

$1,877.40

Difference to business class

$270.60

$289.60

$707.20

$655.20

Value per eUpgrade

$12.89

$16.09

$58.93

$59.56

Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)

Economy (Standard)

Economy (Flex)

Economy (Latitude)

Premium Economy (Lowest)

Business Class (Lowest)

Aeroplan points

52,800

64,800

84,800

86,900

219,900

eUpgrades to business class

26

23

13

17

Co-pay

$750

$500

$200

Cash cost of redemption

$1,858.80

$1,860.80

$1,780.80

$2,024.90

$4,617.90

Difference to business class

$2,759.10

$2,757.10

$2,837.10

$2,593

Value per eUpgrade

$106.12

$119.87

$218.24

$152.53

For the above flights, the values range from a measly $1.71 to $218.24 per eUpgrade. The average value is $77.85, and the median value is $59.56.

For all flights outside of North America, there is a mandatory co-pay fee for using eUpgrades on Flex and Premium Economy (Lowest) fares for all Aeroplan Elite Status members except for Super Elites, on top of the universal co-pay with Standard fares.

Co-pay fees can seriously erode value from eUpgrades. In many cases, the additional fees on Standard and Flex fares bring the total cost close to the value of the Latitude fare, which comes with many additional benefits, such as being fully refundable and not subject to eUpgrade clearance windows.

This is indeed the case for the Toronto–London example above: the co-pay amounts for the Economy (Standard) and Economy (Flex) fares bring the total cost above the business class fare itself. In this case, since the cost for business class is at the lower end of the dynamic spectrum, I would book in Business Class (Lowest) and save my eUpgrades for another occasion.

Air Canada 777 business class
Air Canada 777 business class

From Montreal to Casablanca, it’s a close call between the Premium Economy (Lowest) and Premium Economy (Flexible) fares.

While the Premium Economy (Lowest) fare costs the least in points, it also comes with a $200 co-pay, a marginally higher cost in eUpgrades, and the disadvantage of being subject to the eUpgrade clearance windows. Ultimately, the Premium Economy (Flexible) fare wins out with a respectable value of $59.56 per eUpgrade and instantly confirming business class on a long-haul route.

Note that Economy (Latitude) fares weren’t included in the above examples, and this is because they were actually more than the Premium Economy (Flexible) fares. Be sure to compare all fares when shopping around for flights, as you might wind up being pleasantly surprised.

Finally, the Vancouver–Hong Kong route is historically a very sought-after route for eUpgrades. At over 13 hours of flight time, having a lie-flat seat and on-call Champagne can certainly stretch the eUpgrade value even farther.

With Hong Kong reopening its borders, now could be a great time to leverage your eUpgrades. Indeed, in this example, where the business class dynamic pricing is less than ideal, you can squeeze a very satisfying $218.24 of value by booking in Economy (Latitude) and using 13 eUpgrades to instantly confirm a seat in Air Canada Signature Class.

2. Upgrading to Business Class on Cash Bookings

For the next set of examples, let’s take a look at using eUpgrades with cash bookings, again with the intention of flying in business class.

Valuation Methodology

Similar to the process used for eUpgrades on Aeroplan bookings, I sampled the same flights as above for Air Canada flights within Canada, to North American and Sun destinations, and on international routes.

For each search, I took the cash price of the flight in Economy (Standard, Flex, Comfort, Latitude) and Premium Economy (Lowest and, in some cases, Flexible) and added any required co-pay amounts.

Then, I calculated the total cost (fare plus any co-pay) when compared to the Business Class (Lowest) fare, and divided by the number of eUpgrades required. This represents the value unlocked by a single eUpgrade credit in each scenario. 

 

[Cost of Business Class (Lowest) flight – (Cost of a Given Flight + Co-Pay Amount) ] / Number of eUpgrade Credits Required]

 

The tables below break down this calculation row-by-row:

  1. Cost of a given flight
  2. eUpgrade credits required to upgrade to business class
  3. Co-pay amount (if any)
  4. Difference between the total cost of a flight (including co-pay) [(1) + (3)] and Business Class (Lowest) fare
  5. Value per eUpgrade credit: (4) ÷ (2)

As with the examination of eUpgrades with Aeroplan bookings, for reasons of parsimony, the charts below do not take into account the eUpgrade clearance window. 

Aside from Latitude and Premium Economy (Flexible) fares, the chance of getting an eUpgrade confirmed within the booking window depends on eUpgrade availability and your status. Those with higher statuses have first dibs on eUpgrades, and those with lower statuses are at the mercy of availability closer to the date of travel.

2a. Domestic Flights

The first table shows the same routings in the Aeroplan section, but booked with cash instead of points.

Note that we’ve excluded Premium Economy (Flexible) fares from the analysis, as they were uniformly more expensive than Economy (Latitude) fares in all of our searches, and thus would represent strictly poorer value.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Comfort)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Business Class
(Lowest)

Toronto (YYZ) – Vancouver (YVR)

Cost

$399

$467

$546

$1,219

$943

$1,398

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

8

2

4

Co-pay

$250

Difference to business class

$749

$931

$852

$179

$455

Value per eUpgrade

$68

$93.10

$106.50

$89.50

$113.75

Vancouver (YVR) – Edmonton (YEG)

Cost

$192

$234

$276

$730

$543

eUpgrades to business class

5

4

3

1

Co-pay

$75

Difference to business class

$276

$309

$267

Value per eUpgrade

$55.20

$77.25

$89

Calgary (YYC) – Montreal (YUL)

Cost

$380

$443

$517

$988

$866

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

8

2

Co-pay

$150

Difference to business class

$336

$423

$349

Value per eUpgrade

$30.55

$42.30

$43.63

For this sample of flights, the values range from $30.55 to $113.75 per eUpgrade credit, with an average value of $73.53 and a median value of $77.25.

On the route with a three-cabin aircraft (Toronto–Vancouver), I want to give a shout-out to the Premium Economy (Lowest) fare. It’s just less than twice the cost of the Economy (Comfort) fare, and it’s also more restrictive (non-refundable). 

Be sure to consider premium economy fares when shopping for flights

However, it requires half as many eUpgrades as the Comfort fare, and you’re guaranteed to be in a higher class of service for your flight, if that’s important for you. This bodes well for rationing your eUpgrades for other bookings and for travelling with some more comfort.

In this scenario, you can also get solid value out of eUpgrades on any of the other fares, as long as you’re confident that the eUpgrade will clear. 

On the Vancouver–Edmonton route, the Economy (Comfort) fare comes out as the winner, as the Economy (Latitude) fare is actually more expensive than booking in business class to begin with.

Since this is such a short flight, I’d be inclined to book in an Economy (Flex) or an Economy (Comfort) fare, given the other perks that come along with the fare brands and the negligible difference to Economy (Standard).

On the Calgary–Montreal route, the Economy (Comfort) fare once again wins out for providing the best eUpgrade value, and the Economy (Latitude) fare is actually higher than the Business Class (Lowest).

I’d be inclined to go with either the Economy (Flex) or Economy (Comfort) fares here, for the same reasons as the on the Vancouver–Edmonton flight.

Air Canada 787 premium economy

2b. North America & Sun Destinations

The below chart shows flights to North America and Sun destinations and the corresponding eUpgrade values. 

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Comfort)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Business Class
(Lowest)

Montreal (YUL) – Puerto Vallarta (PVR)

Cost

$412

$462

$537

$1,488

$1,249

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

8

2

Co-pay

$250

Difference to business class

$587

$787

$712

Value per eUpgrade

$53.36

$78.70

$89

Toronto (YYZ) – Los Angeles (LAX)

Cost

$282

$371

$423

$1,193

$886

$1,776

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

8

2

4

Co-pay

$250

Difference to business class

$1,244

$1,405

$1,353

$583

$890

Value per eUpgrade

$113.09

$140.50

$169.13

$291.50

$222.50

Vancouver (YVR) – Newark (EWR)

Cost

$353

$442

$495

$994

$924

$1,866

eUpgrades to business class

11

10

8

2

4

Co-pay

$250

Difference to business class

$1,263

$1,424

$1,371

$872

$942

Value per eUpgrade

$114.82

$142.40

$171.38

$436

$235.50

For this sample, the eUpgrade values range from $53.36 to a staggering $436, with an average value of $165.76 and a median value of $142.40.

In all cases, the $250 co-pay fee bumps the total cost of the Economy (Standard) fare to over the Economy (Comfort) fare.

If you were to book Economy (Standard), you’d be losing out on Aeroplan mileage accumulation and having a refundable fare, and you’d also burn an additional three eUpgrade credits per person on the booking.

This is a good reminder to pay attention to co-pay fees when planning on using eUpgrades, as they can erode the value you get out of them. In many cases, it’s worth paying a higher fare in the first place.

Watch out for co-pay fees, as they can erode value from eUpgrades

From Montreal to Puerto Vallarta, we see a similar pattern, where the Economy (Flex) and Economy (Comfort) fares don’t differ by much, but they’re significantly less than the Economy (Latitude) or the Business Class (Lowest) fares.

With this in mind, I’d be inclined to book either of them instead of the higher fares, especially since this particular flight is on a narrow-body aircraft.

An interesting situation emerges for the Toronto–Los Angeles route, which has a three-cabin aircraft. 

If you were going to book business class to begin with, you’d wind up saving almost $600 by paying for an Economy (Latitude) fare and using two eUpgrades at a great value.

If flying in premium economy is a reasonable alternative, you’d be paying a few hundred dollars less than Economy (Latitude), but you’d still wind up with both a higher class of service than economy and solid value, should your eUpgrade to business class clear.

Otherwise, if you have a higher status and the flight isn’t completely full, you should have a good shot at an eUpgrade with either the Economy (Flex) or the Economy (Comfort) fares. Should your eUpgrade clear, you’d have saved a tidy sum of cash and squeezed some great value out of your eUpgrades.

Air Canada 787 business class

A very interesting situation arises in the example of flying from Vancouver to New York on a three-cabin aircraft. If you need to fly in business class, then you’d be saving around 50% by booking an Economy (Latitude) fare and using two eUpgrades at a value of $436 each. 

Since the price of the Economy (Latitude) and Premium Economy (Lowest) fares are relatively the same, I’d be inclined to book the former for the instant upgrade to business class.

With any of the other fares, you’re still getting great value out of eUpgrades, as long as your request clears. 

2c. International Flights

Lastly, let’s have a look at how eUpgrade values on paid international flights stack up compared to other destinations.

Note that the Economy (Comfort) option is not available on international routes. Instead, we’ve included Premium Economy (Flexible) fares here as a point of comparison to Latitude fares, as they both are not subject to a clearance window. 

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Premium Economy
(Flexible)

Business Class
(Lowest)

Toronto (YYZ) – London (LHR)

Cost

$412

$919

$1,645

$1,279

$2,005

$3,891

eUpgrades to business class

18

15

11

12

11

Co-pay

$750

$500

$200

Difference to business class

$2,729

$2,472

$2,246

$2,412

$1,886

Value per eUpgrade

$151.60

$164.80

$204.18

$201

$171.45

Montreal (YUL) – Casablanca (CMN)

Cost

$531

$999

$1,632

$914

$1,954

$1,331

eUpgrades to business class

21

15

11

12

11

Co-pay

$750

$500

$200

Difference to business class

$50

$(168)

$(301)

$217

$(623)

Value per eUpgrade

$2.38

$18.08

Vancouver (YVR) – Hong Kong (HKG)

Cost

$778

$1,255

$3,772

$1,345

$5,838

$3,392

eUpgrades to business class

23

20

13

17

13

Co-pay

$750

$500

$200

Difference to business class

$1,864

$1,637

$(380)

$1,847

$($2,446)

Value per eUpgrade

$81.04

$81.85

$108.65

The eUpgrade values range from a paltry low of $2.38 to a high of $204.18, with an average value of $118.50 and a median value of $130.13.

I’d like to give a very honourable mention to the Premium Economy (Lowest) fares here, again. The existence of $750 and $500 co-pay fees on the Economy (Standard) and Economy (Flex) fares pushes them to be either higher or close to the Premium Economy (Lowest) fare in most cases.

Furthermore, the eUpgrade requirements for Premium Economy (Lowest) fares are substantially less than those of the Economy (Standard) fares. 

Air Canada 787 business class
Air Canada 787 business class

From Toronto to London, we can actually get some excellent value out of paying for an Economy (Latitude) fare and using eUpgrades. The price is significantly less than the Business Class (Lowest) fare, and you’d get great value from your eUpgrades. 

Since it’s a fully refundable fare with a suite of other perks, one could easily argue that the co-pay fees on the lower economy fares would be better spent on a higher base fare to begin with.

On the Montreal–Casablanca route, we see a very competitively priced Business Class (Lowest) fare. Taking the co-pay fees on the other fares into consideration, it makes sense just to book in business class to begin with here, and save your eUpgrades for another time. 

For the Vancouver–Hong Kong flight, we see that the Economy (Latitude) fare is actually higher than the Business Class (Lowest). The presence of hefty co-pay fees on the other economy fares would lead me to book a Premium Economy (Lowest) fare and hope for an eUpgrade. 

3. Upgrading to Premium Economy

Although upgrading to business class is the standout use-case for eUpgrades, it may not always be possible to snag that lie-flat seat in the front of the plane.

For the final part of this analysis, let’s take a look at a few situations where you could use eUpgrades for premium economy when paying with both points and cash.

Valuation Methodology

Similar to the processes used to estimate eUpgrade values for business class, I sampled a few flights that offer the premium economy cabin on domestic, trans-border, and international routes. 

For each search, I took the Aeroplan and cash values of economy fares and compared them to the corresponding premium economy fares with any required co-pay amounts.

For the Aeroplan bookings, I converted the points value into a cash value using our current valuation of 2.1 cents per point (cpp).

Then, I calculated the total cost (i.e., the fare plus any co-pay for cash bookings, or the converted cash value of Aeroplan points plus any co-pay for Aeroplan bookings) and compared it to the premium economy cost, and divided it by the number of eUpgrades required. In each case, the result represents the value unlocked by a single eUpgrade credit:


[ Value of Premium Economy Flight – ( Value of Given Flight + Co-Pay Amount ) ] ÷
Number of eUpgrade Credits Required

 

As before, the valuation does not take into consideration the eUpgrade clearance window, which will affect the ability to confirm an upgrade.

3a. Domestic Flights

The following table shows a comparison of cash and Aeroplan bookings and the corresponding eUpgrade values for premium economy on a domestic flight from Toronto to Vancouver.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Comfort)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Toronto (YYZ) – Vancouver (YVR), Cash fare

Cost

$306

$374

$510

$1,219

$822

eUpgrades to premium economy

7

6

6

1

Co-pay

$100

Difference to premium economy

$416

$448

$312

$(397)

Value per eUpgrade

$59.43

$74.67

$52

Toronto (YYZ) – Vancouver (YVR), Aeroplan points

Cost

12,600

23,600

30,600

34,400

eUpgrades to premium economy

7

6

1

Co-pay

$100

Cash cost of redemption

$364.60

$495.60

$642.60

$722.40

Difference to premium economy

$357.80

$226.80

$79.80

Value per eUpgrade

$51.11

$37.80

$79.80

In this case, the eUpgrade value varies widely from a measly $5.51 to a respectable $87.17. 

Generally speaking, an Economy (Latitude) fare tends to be more expensive than booking the Premium Economy (Lowest) fare, either with cash or points. Thus, if you are looking to travel in premium economy to begin with, it’s probably best to book it in the first place, since you won’t get particularly good value out of using eUpgrades.

For the points bookings, Aeroplan’s dynamic pricing really becomes apparent. The Premium Economy (Lowest) fare is about twice what it costs at the lowest “baseline” level.

In this case, you can arguably get good value out of booking an Economy (Latitude) fare and using a single eUpgrade to save around 4,000 points, but you may be better served booking the Economy (Flex) fare and taking your chances.

Air Canada 787 premium economy

3b. North America & Sun Destinations

The following table shows a comparison of cash and Aeroplan bookings and the corresponding eUpgrade values for premium economy from Toronto to Los Angeles.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Comfort)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Toronto (YYZ) – Los Angeles (LAX), Cash fare

Cost

$297

$387

$439

$1,193

$750

eUpgrades to premium economy

7

6

6

1

Co-pay

$100

Difference to premium economy

$353

$363

$311

$(443)

Value per eUpgrade

$50.43

$60.50

$51.83

Toronto (YYZ) – Los Angeles (LAX), Aeroplan points

Cost

10,500

21,500

28,500

17,100

eUpgrades to premium economy

7

6

2

Co-pay

$100

Cash cost of redemption

$320.50

$451.50

$598.50

$359.10

Difference to premium economy

$38.60

$(92.40)

$(239.40)

Value per eUpgrade

$5.51

The eUpgrade valuations here range from $5.51 on the low end to $60.50 on the high end.

We see a stark contrast to the value per eUpgrade on cash bookings and on Aeroplan bookings. For cash bookings, the Economy (Flex) fare offers the most value per eUpgrade, but if I had the choice of booking in cash or with points, I’d opt for the latter.

The cash equivalent for booking in premium economy using Aeroplan points is $359.10, based on our points valuations. This is actually more than the Economy (Flex) cash fare, so my plan would be to use points here.

Compared to the cost of booking in premium economy on a cash fare, you’d be saving around 50%, which is a great deal.

3c. International

The following table shows a comparison of cash and Aeroplan bookings and the corresponding eUpgrade values for premium economy from Montreal to Paris.

Economy
(Standard)

Economy
(Flex)

Economy
(Comfort)

Economy
(Latitude)

Premium Economy
(Lowest)

Montreal (YUL) – Paris (CDG), Cash fare

Cost

$514

$973

$1,716

$1,548

eUpgrades to premium economy

11

8

6

Co-pay

$250

Difference to premium economy

$784

$575

$(168)

Value per eUpgrade

$71.27

$71.88

Montreal (YUL) – Paris (YUL), Aeroplan points

Cost

40,800

51,800

70,800

81,300

eUpgrades to premium economy

14

11

6

Co-pay

$300

Cash cost of redemption

$1,156.80

$1,087.80

$1,486.80

$1,707.30

Difference to premium economy

$550.50

$619.50

$220.50

Value per eUpgrade

$39.32

$56.32

$36.75

In this last example, we see a range of similar eUpgrade values across both charts, ranging between $39.32 and $71.88.

In both cases, using eUpgrades with the Economy (Flex) fare winds up striking a good balance. Indeed, the Premium Economy (Lowest) fare is comparatively high, so although using eUpgrades always comes with some risk, you can come out nicely ahead if it winds up working out for you.

Keep in mind that if your eUpgrade to business class doesn’t pan out, you’ll also be in the running for an eUpgrade to premium economy. Aside from overnight long-haul flights, where a lie-flat bed is oh-so desired, premium economy is a perfectly comfortable place to be.

So, What Are Air Canada eUpgrades Worth?

In this iteration of our eUpgrade valuations, taking into account all the sample searches we conducted, the findings can be summarized as follows:

Minimum

Maximum

Average

Median

By booking currency

Aeroplan points

$1.71

$481.43

$125.45

$73.61

Cash

$2.38

$436.00

$112.95

$89.00

By upgraded class of service

Upgrading to business class

$1.71

$481.43

$134.31

$106.50

Upgrading to premium economy

$5.51

$79.80

$53.24

$52.00

By geography

Domestic

$10.50

$210.00

$72.83

$63.72

North America / Sun destinations

$5.51

$481.43

$184.28

$149.85

International

$1.71

$218.24

$91.94

$76.46

Total

Total

$1.71

$481.43

$118.72

$85.00

As you can see, the value unlocked by a single eUpgrade credit can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including how you book, which cabin you upgrade to, and where you tend to fly.

Using eUpgrades on Aeroplan bookings tends to have higher potential upside, but a slightly lower valuation on balance, compared to using eUpgrades on cash flights.

Upgrading to business class will unlock a significantly higher value for your eUpgrades than upgrading to premium economy, and that’s well within our expectation.

Lastly, it’s perhaps interesting to note that eUpgrades appear to offer outsized value on flights within North America and Sun destinations, compared to both domestic and international flights. 

All things considered, I think it would be fair to estimate a valuation of $90/eUpgrade, regardless of how they’re redeemed. I’d say that should aim to get at least $90 of value from each eUpgrade credit.

Note that this figure can be adjusted based on your own flying patterns. If you travel very often or at the last minute, you might aim for an even higher value than $90/eUpgrade when deciding whether to use them. 

On the other hand, those who travel infrequently might not be too concerned about extracting maximum value from eUpgrades, instead simply treating them as a way to save a few dollars or Aeroplan points throughout the year.

Either way, it’s worth crunching the numbers when you’re considering using your eUpgrades to see what kind of value you’re getting. These numbers can also inform your decision as to whether it’s worth paying the annual fee from a premium Aeroplan credit card to rollover up to 50 eUpgrades per year. 

Conclusion

Aeroplan Elite Status members can redeem eUpgrade credits on Aeroplan and cash bookings. Doing so can save you money and points, as well as increasing the value that you get out of your status.

It’s important to weigh up multiple factors to find the most value in your eUpgrade credits, including your booking currency, desired class of service, route and destination, and future travel plans. 

Through sampling a series of routes, we’ve seen that there’s a very wide range of possible values for your eUpgrade credits, and we’d peg $90/eUpgrade as a reasonable target when deciding whether or not to redeem them.

 

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