Minimum Flight Requirements Increasing for Air Canada Altitude Elite Status for 2015; Other Updates Announced

“T hese changes are being introduced following a thorough benchmarking exercise in order to competitively position Air Canada alongside the world’s leading carriers”, according to this announcement that a number of changes have been announced pertaining to Altitude by Air Canada for 2015. “Air Canada remains committed to offering one of the world’s best frequent flyer programs.”

Minimum Flight Requirements for Altitude Elite Level Status to Increase

In order to qualify for Altitude elite level status on Air Canada in 2016, the following minimum flight requirements will need to be met, as they will increase:

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Chart courtesy of Air Canada. Click on the chart for an enlarged version.

 

  • Prestige 25K 12,500 Altitude Qualification Miles or 12 Altitude Qualification Segments
  • Elite 35K 17,500 Altitude Qualification Miles or 17 Altitude Qualification Segments
  • Elite 50K 25,000 Altitude Qualification Miles or 25 Altitude Qualification Segments
  • Elite 75K 37,500 Altitude Qualification Miles or 37 Altitude Qualification Segments
  • Super Elite 100K 50,000 Altitude Qualification Miles or 47 Altitude Qualification Segments

 

The new minimum flight requirements will not impact qualification for Altitude elite level status in 2015.

500 Mile Minimum

The 500 Mile Minimum privilege will no longer be in effect. For travel from March 1, 2015 onwards, miles earned will be based on the distance flown and the fare option purchased for flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Air Canada rouge and member airlines of Star Alliance.

eUpgrade Requirements to Increase

For eUpgrade requests on or after March 1, 2015, the number of eUpgrade credits required to upgrade will increasing. Furthermore, the number of eUpgrade credits Altitude members can earn through Threshold eUpgrades is changing, as shown in the chart below:

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 2.32.01 PM

Chart courtesy of Air Canada. Click on the chart for an enlarged version.

In early 2015, Altitude members will be able to access the comfort of Premium Economy using eUpgrade Credits when travelling on an eligible fare. eUpgrade Add-ons will not apply for these upgrades. Additional details and information pertaining to eUpgrades to Premium Economy are expected to be released later this year.

Effective as of March 1, 2015, if you are an Altitude Super Elite 100K member, you will be entitled to share your eUpgrade privilege with one eUpgrade Nominee, while maintaining your ability to share your privileges with travel companions. The eUpgrade Travel Companion privilege allows you to upgrade one companion who is traveling on the same reservation. In addition, you can also upgrade one additional companion not travelling on the same reservation, but on the same flight, at the airport on the day of departure.

Priority Boarding

In early 2015, a new streamlined boarding process will be introduced to ensure that Altitude elite level members get even more out of their Priority Boarding privilege.

Complimentary access to International Maple Leaf Lounges and Star Alliance Business Lounges

If you are an Altitude Elite 35K member, you will no longer have the option to choose complimentary access to international Maple Leaf Lounges and Star Alliance business lounges as part of your Select Privileges. Instead, you will be able to select a discount of 50 percent on any Maple Leaf Club membership. As part of your Core Privileges, you will be able to continue to enjoy the comfort and amenities of select Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges located in the domestic and trans-border departures zones of Canadian airports, along with those in Los Angeles and LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Additional details pertaining to Maple Leaf Club memberships are found here.

Preferred Seats

If you are an Altitude Elite 50K member, you will not only enjoy complimentary access to more Preferred Seats with the purchase of a Flex fare for travel within North America, but you will also receive a discount of 50 percent on the Preferred Seat fee with the purchase of a Flex fare booked for travel from Canada to an international destination.

If you are an Altitude Elite 35K or Altitude Prestige 25K member, you will enjoy access to more Preferred Seats at a discount of 50 percent on the Preferred Seat fee with the purchase of a Flex fare for travel originating in Canada.

In both cases, the expanded access to Preferred Seats is currently available. Additional details pertaining to Preferred Seats are found here.

Flight Rewards

In early 2015, you will be able to redeem your Aeroplan frequent flier loyalty program miles for seats in the Premium Economy cabin on Air Canada. Additional details and information are expected to be coming soon.

The flight reward fuel surcharges for travel within Canada and between Canada and the United States will be waived for Altitude elite level members for ClassicFlight Rewards made as of March 1, 2015, applicable on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Furthermore, at the same time, the ClassicFlight Rewards fuel surcharges for travel between Canada and other international destinations will be waived for Super Elite 100K members on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Aeroplan Flight Reward change fee waivers for Super Elite 100K members will be no longer be available for changes made on or after March 1, 2015.

Priority Rewards will be limited to ten reservations per eligible Altitude member, per benefit period beginning March 1, 2015. Super Elite 100K members are able to book a combined total of ten reservations in both Economy and Business Class. In the event that Aeroplan ClassicFlight Reward seats are completely booked, Priority Rewards offer access to additional seats on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Initial Conclusions

It appears that positive benefits include the removal of fuel surcharges for certain Altitude elite level members on certain flight rewards — although with the price of fuel having been reduced in recent weeks, so-called fuel surcharges should be lowered for all passengers; and the ability to upgrade and book flight rewards for seats in the Premium Economy cabin.

Most of the other announced updates, however, unfortunately appear to what amounts to be a major devaluation overall in which I had stated multiple times in the past to be “the most confusing loyalty program for frequent fliers.”

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