Another Big Devaluation to Air Canada Elites

I’ve quoted what the official representative on Air Canada has posted on Flyertalk and written a few sentences about each. This is a big devaluation in my opinion 🙁

More miles with many Air Canada fares

Starting tomorrow – August 20 – all members will earn more Altitude Qualifying Miles on many Air Canada fares:

  • Earn 25% Altitude Qualifying Miles when you purchase a Tango fare for travel within Canada on flights operated by Air Canada and Air Canada Express. Tango fares for travel across all other markets will remain at 50% Altitude Qualifying Miles.
  • Earn 125% Altitude Qualifying Miles when you purchase a Latitude or Premium Economy fare on all flights operated by Air Canada and Air Canada Express across our network.
  • Earn 150% Altitude Qualifying Miles when you purchase an Executive First or Executive Class fare on all flights operated by Air Canada and Air Canada Express across our network.
  • Earn Altitude Qualifying Miles when you purchase any fare – including Tango fares, which previously earned non-qualifying Aeroplan Miles – on flights operated by Air Canada rouge .

Note that this change will apply to all reservations, regardless of booking date, for travel effective tomorrow.

My thoughts:

I recall the time (and it’s fuzzy as I never was AC Elite) when a Tango Plus were the lowest fares. Honestly for the traveller who doesn’t travel much and picks the lowest fare it was always a better idea to credit to United MileagePlus and these changes make no difference. I guess for the business traveller who purchases a lot of paid Latitude and Executive First Lowest/Flexible fares this is as benefit but unless s/he has ha lot of travel within Canada I would like to ask why s/he is still running the hamster wheel for Air Canada Elite Status.

eUpgrade Add-ons

In order to preserve the sustainability of the eUpgrade benefit on overseas International flights, beginning March 2014, certain Altitude members will see the introduction of eUpgrade Add-ons. eUpgrade Add-ons are a supplementary payment, in addition to the required number of eUpgrade Credits that will apply as follows:

  • eUpgrade Add-ons will apply for Altitude Prestige 25K, Elite 35K, Elite 50K and Elite 75K members. Add-ons will also apply to the upgraded travel companions of members who hold one of those Altitude status levels. Add-ons will not apply for Super Elite 100K members or their companions.
  • eUpgrade Add-ons will apply only for travel on longhaul, international flights. Specifically, add-ons are applicable for travel between Canada and Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America. Add-ons will not apply for travel within North America, including Sun destinations.
  • eUpgrade Add-ons will apply to upgrades from Flex fares. Add-ons will not apply to upgrades from Latitude or Premium Economy fares.
  • eUpgrade Add-ons will not change how you request an upgrade. As today, you will continue to be able to request an upgrade at, through Air Canada Reservations or with an agent at the airport. Where applicable, however, you will be required to provide a credit card in order to pay for the add-on. Note that the credit card will only be charged if your upgrade is successful, and all charges will be processed in Canadian Dollars (CAD).

eUpgrade Add-ons will vary by market. The rate you pay will include any applicable taxes, and will be priced as follows:

  • Between Canada and Europe, the Middle East & South America: $500
  • Between Canada and Asia & Australia: $750

My thoughts:

This basically means the co-pay for the privilege of using your eUpgrades is hovering dangerously close to the prices of LMU (Last Minute Upgrades for all passengers at check-in). That’s pretty ridiculous in my opinion especially if you are flying 75,000 + (and don’t qualify for Super Elite 100k) qualifying miles/segments a year. I guess they’re also prepping the implementation of Premium Economy on their fleet as that will mean that Premium Economy upgrades will have no copay.

Of course this is in addition of Air Canada putting in Tango Fares on many if not all the TPAC/TATL routes late last year which effectively made being fares being eligible upgrade anywhere from $100 to a few hundred dollars pricier. A devaluation on top of another devaluation.

Other changes to eUpgrades

Also beginning in March 2014, a few additional changes to eUpgrades will take effect:

  • The eUpgrade Travel Companion benefit will be expanded, and will replace eUpgrade Nominees. On the day of departure, all Altitude members will now be able to upgrade one companion who is not travelling on the same reservation, as long as they are traveling on the same flight. This will give members more flexibility when upgrading companions who may not be traveling on the same reservation as them.
  • Altitude Super Elite 100K members will retain 2 eUpgrade Nominees. This will be in addition to the new expanded travel companion benefit.
  • eUpgrades with Aeroplan ClassicFlight Rewards will no longer be available. This benefit, currently exclusive to Super Elite 100K members, will be removed.

By allowing all members to earn Altitude Qualifying Miles with all Air Canada fares, and more AQM on our premium fares, we hope you’ll reach a higher Altitude status even faster.

My thoughts:

I think that for most elites this is not a great move since now requesting an upgrade now requires the person to be travelling with you. This effectively puts an end to the “sharing of eupgrades” which has happened on the Flyertalk thread as members have note been able to use up all the eupgrades. It also makes SE 100k a bit more valuable as this means they are exempt from the copays and to an extent to this “enhancement” as well. But generally there’s more downside than upside here.

Naturally we do not take these changes to the eUpgrade program lightly. However, in order to balance the challenging economics of offering an international eUpgrade privilege, we are striving to make changes that will allow us to continue offering this benefit, while also aligning ourselves competitively.

As some of you may note, the eUpgrade Add-on product is similar to what many other international carriers have introduced in connection with their mileage upgrade products. To that end, unlike in other frequent flyer programs, upgrades for Altitude members do not require the use of Aeroplan Miles, which instead can be reserved for use to purchase ClassicFlight Rewards. However, in order to sustain the delivery of Executive First service, we have introduced add-ons in addition to the number of eUpgrade Credits required.

My thoughts: I actually really like how they worded these last two paragraphs, and it does make sense. But the way they’re doing it in my opinion is questionable…

With all these changes on top of each other I still don’t understand why anyone still has loyalty to Air Canada. Over the course of three years, they’ve basically wrecked all their competitive advantages: Star Gold at 35,000 Qualifying miles, their award chart redemption levels (with fuel surcharges along with another raise in award chart prices next years, and their overseas flights upgrades for elites (even more with the copay). This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty of changes that others don’t like. 

The Qualifying miles and bonus miles that they’re changing to earnings aren’t simply enough or even relevant to a lot of cheapo elites. At the end of the day Air Canada just wants to be profitable, and they do have a right to change these benefits. They aren’t obligated to continue providing them if they’re not going to be profitable. But I guess we’ll see how effective they are at keeping customers.

Please join oneworld, Westjet!!! 😉

You can learn more about these changes here.



  1. “This basically means the co-pay for the privilege of using your eUpgrades is hovering dangerously close to the prices of LMU (Last Minute Upgrades for all passengers at check-in).”


    More lousy changes – basically AC is firing you as a customer is you are 75E or lower – terrible timing announcing this now.

  2. I am really glad that I no longer collect Aeroplan. Also, I am really happy about Porter Airlines’s expansion to the US and West Canada. Hopefully Porter will partner up with other airlines or credit card company so that we can earn more points.

  3. So I’m a first year Super Elite but multi year Elite and travel 50-100 segments a year out of Toronto mostly to the US Midwest.

    What program should I go with if not AC? United MileagePlus? I don’t live downtown so Porter is not an option.

    • Definitely UA. Much better miles, complementary premier upgrades for transborder/domestic (although upgrade % varies). The only reason why AC still has elites are those flying lots of domestic flights.

  4. Please comment whether Avios or Asia Miles is a better program to earn miles through credit card accumulation in terms of easiness to get business reward seats and more economical to redeem miles?

    Any suggestion taking which airline for most economical business reward seat in terms of food, cabin comfort and service by Aeroplan to JNB, South Africa route.

    Air New Zealand is offering 30% discount to New Zealand via Japan, can I transfer my Aeroplan points to ANA Airlines to take advantage of this promotion?

    I ask these three similar questions in other blog, but I forgot which one and to click “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” button below too. That’s why I ask again in case I miss the answers.

    If you don’t mind, can you list your email too.

    Thanks for the trouble again.

  5. I just found out about the $500 add on this evening when I blithely requested an eupgrade for an upcoming flight.

    I guess I am a cheapo elite (50K) because I sure as hell ain’t going to pay $500. My employer won’t cover the cost (travel policy is coach full-stop) and it’s too big for me to swallow.

    I think my 42 eupgrade credits will end up expiring, unredeemed, next year. What to do? Most of my travel is to Amsterdam. I guess I will now investigate what KLM has to offer.

    Oh Air Canada, what are you doing? Another loyal customer deciding to flee for greener pastures elsewhere.

  6. I am a Air Canada so-called Elite 75K, I just regret I chose it from beginning, and I have no hesitate to decide to leave them now with these so-called add-on sale by Air Canada

    Bye Bye Air Canada! You treat customer and Elite as nuts.

  7. Can you tell me how an Elite passenger with Air Canada for 13 years next year will not even qualify while flying the same amount of times ! I am so mad ! I feel like I have been totally kicked in the gut … Loyalty means absolutely nothing to them . The flex fares ate 300 dollars at least pick your seat and get full mileage … I used to always pick my seat on Tango… I have upgrades I can’t use which I could before… I always at least thought I got something now I think I am going to have to switch … I am sad . They really don’t care about the bread and butter customers that have been faithful for all these years ! Business travelers is all they care about and they are getting kicked too ! Back to the end of the line……..

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