About that Air Canada Aeroplan status match… [An interview with Prince of Travel]

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Remember Air Canada Aeroplan’s status match?  The idea is that you can easily get temporary elite status with Air Canada by providing proof of similar status with another airline.  The matched status lasts until the end of this year unless you meet the challenge requirements: book and fly 1 return trip travelling with Air Canada before midnight on the January 15, 2022.  If you complete that one paid round-trip flight in time, they’ll extend your matched status through December 31, 2022.

Overview

My wife and I each matched from Delta Diamond to Aeroplan 75K status.  Our plan to complete the challenge was to fly to Toronto for a weekend on Air Canada in order to visit friends.  Unfortunately, those plans fell apart and so I’m stuck wondering if it’s worth doing a same day turn-around mileage run just to get status for another year.  Meanwhile, an email from Aeroplan told me to choose my Select Benefits by December 31st:

you can start taking advantage of your privileges right away by choosing your Select Benefits. These benefits are your opportunity to curate your experience when you travel with Air Canada.

Please ensure to select and enjoy your benefits by December 31, 2021, as a default selection will not be made on your behalf.

Okay… I’ve never put much time into learning about Aeroplan’s elite status benefits or the Select Benefits that come with status.  Which Select Benefits should I choose?  And, is it worth doing a mileage run to keep status?  In order to answer these questions, I asked an expert in all things Aeroplan, Ricky, the founder of Prince of Travel, for help…

Q & A with Prince of Travel

Is it worth mileage running?

Me: Our temporary status only lasts until the end of this year, but we have until Jan 15, 2022 to fly one round-trip flight in order to complete the challenge and keep status through 2022. If we don’t have any plans to fly Air Canada during that time, is it worth doing a mileage run? Let’s say the best round-trip flight we can find from our home airport costs $400? Which matched status levels would be worth spending that much for?

Prince of Travel:

Assuming you aren’t going too far out of your way to do so, I’d say that retaining Aeroplan 50K and above is certainly worth a mileage run, and Aeroplan 25K/35K also potentially worthwhile if you plan to travel to Europe or Asia in 2022 and could arrange the itinerary to fly Air Canada in one of the directions.

Aeroplan 50K offers Star Alliance Gold status, which should outweigh a ~$400 mileage run cost if you’re a frequent traveler with Star Alliance – including if you fly United domestically in the US, since Star Alliance Gold gives you domestic United Club access.

Meanwhile, Aeroplan 25K and 35K give you valuable eUpgrade credits, which can be used to upgrade economy class flights to business class, including Aeroplan redemptions. The optimal way to use eUpgrades is known as the “Latitude Attitude”, in which you book a higher fare category of economy class that lets you confirm an upgrade instantly, as long as there’s upgrade award space available.

For example, 11 eUpgrade credits can be used to instantly upgrade a one-way flight from economy to business between North America and Europe.

Therefore, if you plan to travel to Canada or anywhere else Air Canada flies, eUpgrade credits could save you a lot of points compared to using other loyalty programs for long-haul business class flights. Mileage-running for another year of 25K or 35K status (which give 25 or 30 eUpgrade credits, respectively) can easily be worthwhile if you maximize the resulting benefits.

About eUpgrades

Me: I heard once that eUpgrades can be applied to award tickets. Is this true? If so, how does that work?  Also, how do you know how many eUpgrades are needed for any given flight?

Prince of Travel:

To answer both of your questions: Yes, it’s all based on the eUpgrades chart, which shows you how many eUpgrades are required to upgrade tickets between different zones, from different cabins to different cabins, booked with cash or points, and of varying distances.

eUpgrading award tickets – simply book the award ticket and then click “eUpgrade” on the Manage Your Booking page on the Air Canada website.

“Latitude Attitude” refers to the practice of booking the highest economy class fare category for a small premium in Aeroplan points (known as Latitude), which lets you instantly confirm an upgrade to business class rather than waiting until 4–14 days before your flight. Very useful if the business class pricing is dynamically high whereas the economy pricing is reasonable (which is often the case these days).

Mileage Running

Me: Can you share any tricks for completing the challenge less expensively?

Prince of Travel:

While December round-trip fares look high, it seems like January 11 or so is when Air Canada’s round-trip fares start to get more reasonably priced. I’m seeing US$200 vs. US$400+ in December, for example, on the New York–Toronto route. Definitely seems like that’s the best weekend to plan a mileage run, as long as you complete the flights by January 15!

Select Benefits

Me: Even if we don’t complete the challenge, my understanding is that we can pick “Select Benefits” as long as we do so before the end of the year. Which benefits should we choose and why?

Prince of Travel:

Go for the eUpgrades as one of your selections, given the material value that they offer as outlined above. For your other choice, I’d pick one of the Maple Leaf Lounge benefits, as those can be useful if you’re passing through one of the AC hubs, or even at LGA, EWR, and LAX.

Aeroplan Credit Card

Me: Does the new Chase Aeroplan card make any difference to the above suggestions?

Prince of Travel:

The new Chase Aeroplan Mastercard lets cardholders bump up their Elite Status upon spending US$50K in a calendar year, based on the status they had earned in a given calendar year. So if you sign up now and spend US$50K before the end of 2021 (a tall order for sure), you’d be able to bump up one status level compared to the status you had matched to.

Note that if you renew your status for 2022 by flying a round-trip flight with Air Canada before January 15, that only counts as status being renewed in 2022, not earned in 2022. So then if you spent US$50K in 2022, you may not bump up your status compared to your matched status – unless you further earned status in 2022 (whether through flying or another status promotion).

On the other hand, if you had status-matched to Aeroplan 25K status, then simply applying for the Chase Aeroplan Mastercard will allow you to keep 25K status all the way through December 23 and retain it going forward with only US$15K spend per year. So perhaps there’d be no need for the round-trip flight to retain Aeroplan 25K status in that case.

Final Words of Wisdom

Me: Any other words of wisdom for those thinking of dipping our toes into Aeroplan?

Prince of Travel:

The creativity and value of the program far surpasses anything we’re seeing from US programs at the moment. Even if you don’t have ties to Canada, the potential for premium cabin redemptions and interesting routings is much stronger with Aeroplan than most of its global peers. Get the Chase Mastercard, build up your points balance, and keep your Aeroplan Elite Status going (quite easily achievable with the Chase Mastercard) to start reaping the benefits!

Me: Thanks Ricky, this has been very helpful!

Wrap Up

Ricky’s advice was very helpful!  I’m especially looking forward to diving into these eCredits to see what can be done with them.  It’s intriguing to be able to book economy awards at a small premium over the cheapest economy awards and then apply these eCredits to fly business class.  That sounds like a great opportunity.

As to mileage running, he’s right.  I’m also seeing lower prices in January for flying out of Detroit (DTW) and much lower prices if I drive over to Windsor to fly to Toronto ($176 round-trip starting Jan 6).  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this will fit with our plans so I doubt we’ll do the mileage run.  But its very tempting.

For more about getting the most from Aeroplan as a US resident, see these Prince of Travel posts:

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21 Comments
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Matt V

Pay yourself back works as CAD or USD?

Pretty key difference that I haven’t seen expanded upon

TouringTony.com

Can you clarify the 15th please? Does this mean I can arrive to Canada the 14th and leave the 15th? When you say midnight on the 15th, to me that means 1 minute past 11:59pm on the 14th… Did you mean you can fly up to 11:59 pm on the 14th or 15th? Thanks.

Last edited 28 days ago by TouringTony.com
Andre

So I’ve already booked the mileage run but I noticed the price on Google Flighr for an AC Econ tix from Santa Ana, CA TO YVR is $172 —but it’ll cost you $18 minimum to select your seat — and $41 for an exit row. Is this normal for an AC flight?

mattej

Not normal if you already have your gold status 75k or 50k with AC on this match.

mattej

Interesting points made. I received the 75k match status valid until Dec 31 of which I must do one return flight on AC metal before that date but I read in your article we actually have until Jan 15 2022 to make this flight happen to keep *A Gold for a year?

Joel Tsn

What’s the point of this ? Promote prince of noob ?

AJJ

Great timing! I am in the same position. I’m in Chicago and have been contemplating how I am going to pull this off for the past two weeks. Dec from Chicago is, essentially, $400. I even contemplated purchasing MIA-YUL bc it was $220 roundtrip in early January but then there was the hassle of flying ORD/MDW-MIA. Are you considered an official miles/points “enthusiast” when you’re flying to other cities just to keep status? lol

Lord Dima

I already have Star Alliance Gold through some status match with Avianca that I already completely forgot about. My round trip pricing, even in January, is $300+ (plus the hassle of COVID test) so I’m still on the fence (plus all the BS AC gave to people seeking refunds and blowing off DOT as well over the last couple of years).

As far as Windsor, I’m not sure if that round trip would count? Since the promo is sponsored by Canadian tourism, wouldn’t surprise me if they screw you over saying you didn’t fly out of the US.

Tejbir

Cool. Two of my favourite travel bloggers collaborating.

Hal

How can you tell if status has been extended?
I did the match. Flew 2 one way flights. DFW-YYZ, YYZ-DFW. Pretty expensive, $700 total to book upgradable flights.

Lord Dima

Terms specifically state round trip, not two segments…

Singh

That is not correct – “Two flight segments flown on any Air Canada/Air Canada Rouge/Air Canada Express-operated flight with an AC# flight number.”

Lord Dima

Or is it?

If you do not complete the return trip before December 31, 2021, you will lose the Elite status…”

Would you really trust AirCanada at this point?

MickiSue

Why limit yourself to Toronto?

Spend a weekend in Vancouver, with a side trip to Vancouver Island (ferry over with your rental car) and see Butchardt Gardens.

See old town in Montreal, and if you’re skiers, ski the Laurentians. I’m far from an expert on Canada. But I’ve been to enough places there to know that even in winter, you can have an amazing long weekend in numerous places.

And that’s not even considering Banff/Lake Louise or Whistler.

Josh

I think maybe he’s based on the East Coast and it might be closer to fly to Toronto vs Vancouver? Just guessing though

Ricky

Fun to work together on this, Greg!

Alex

Booked for Jan 12 and returning on Jan 12 but lounge pass is gone from my Aeroplan account. Match to Aeroplan 50k. Will see what happen in Toronto