Aeroplan is currently offering an easy way to earn Air Canada Altitude Status through its Travel at Home Promotion. If you earn 50,000 Aeroplan Miles by any method (including transferring from American Express Membership Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy Points) then you are granted Altitude Prestige 25K Status (if you don't already hold Air Canada Status). For many of us, it may be tempting to transfer their other points to Aeroplan, or even open up a new Aeroplan credit card to earn additional points.
Normally achieving this status requires earning 25,000 Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM) or flying 25 Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS) in addition to spending $3,000 in Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD). This may sound overwhelming, so let us break down each of these requirements.
Altitude Qualifying Miles, or AQM, is a complex measure of the distance travelled on a flight, multiplied by a multiplier depending on the airline (in the Star Alliance) you are flying with, and the flight class you are in. For example, flying Economy Basic means you get a 0% multiplier, or you don't earn any AQM for that flight. Flying in business, on the other hand, means you earn 150% of the miles flown on that flight as AQM. The full breakdown of what different airlines reward in AQM can be found on the Aeroplan website.
Altitude Qualifying Segments, or AQS, on the other hand, refers to the total number of Star Alliance flights you take (excluding Basic Economy, which does not reward a AQS). This is a much easier metric to track then AQM but could take up to 25 flights in the Star Alliance to reach Altitude status this way.
Then finally there is the Altitude Qualifying Dollars, or AQD, requirement. This is the total monetary value of the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges on flights flown by Air Canada and Star Alliance Partners.
As you can see, achieving Altitude Prestige 25K Status is a difficult task unless you are a frequent flyer that never flies Basic Economy fares. This promotion may be the easiest way there has ever been to get this status. But is getting Air Canada Altitude 25K Prestige even worth it?
Benefits of Altitude Prestige 25K Status
To determine if it is worth it, let's first analyze what benefits come with this status. I'm going to focus on the privileges here that matter most to the average traveller, but you can see the complete list on the Air Canada Altitude website.
Priority Contacts (Air Canada flights only)
This allows you quicker access ("by cutting to the front line") to Air Canada and Aeroplan Call Centres. This benefit can be useful when call centres are busy, especially in emergencies. This may save you a ton of frustration when flight cancellations or rebookings occur. However, if you only travel a few times a year you may find you never get an opportunity to use this.
50% Discount on Preferred Seats (Air Canada flights only)
This benefit may seem like a great benefit, however, it requires the purchase of a more expensive flex fare. If you fly Basic or Standard, you won't be able to make use of this.
Two Complimentary Checked Bags (Air Canada flights only)
If you regularly travel on Air Canada flights with baggage, this benefit has the most obvious cost savings. If you regularly travel on other Star Alliance flights or buy fare classes (often Flex) that come with checked baggage, this may provide no value at all to you.
Priority Boarding (Air Canada flights only)
If you're anything like me, there is nothing worse than being in the last group to board a plane, especially with carry-on baggage. Someone will have taken your overhead bin, and you inadvertently cause a scene trying to find something to do with your bag or trying to get it checked at the gate. Priority Boarding is probably my favourite perk of Prestige 25K Status, however, its value varies with how often you fly and of course, how much you care about boarding first.
Twenty eUpgrade Credits
eUpgrades are kind of a mixed bag, especially at Prestige 25K Status. First, to generally be eligible to even use the eUpgrade credits, you have to buy a Flex fare or better (which is generally a decent amount more expensive than the Basic or Standard fares that many travellers buy). Then, eUpgrades are given on a status level basis, which means there will often not be enough availability for Prestige 25K members to use their eUpgrade credits, as the 4 tiers of flyers above them take the upgrades first. Honestly, I know many frequent flyers even at Prestige 25K Status make this work and get upgraded often, but for the person who flies a few times a year, I could see their credits going unused due to lack of availability. How valuable this benefit is to you is determined by how often you fly Air Canada and what class of ticket you buy.
Fuel Surcharge Waiver on Fixed Flight Rewards
Altitude Prestige 25K members get a fuel surcharge waiver (a major component of taxes & fees associated with many Aeroplan redemptions) on all Aeroplan Fixed Flight Rewards in Canada and the U.S. This may seem like a great benefit and it has been a huge cost-saver for years. But with upcoming Aeroplan changes, which includes a change to Dynamic Flight Rewards pricing in North America, this benefit will lose all value. Be sure to follow along at WalletWise.ca, we will discuss all Aeroplan changes as they are announced.
Bonus Aeroplan Miles (Certain Airlines)
Altitude Prestige 25K Members earn an additional 25% in Aeroplan Miles on flights operated by Air Canada, Copa Airlines and United. Additionally, they earn a 250 Mile minimum on all eligible fares. This is affected by the class of the fare, so, for example, Basic fares would still earn 0 Aeroplan Miles.
The Selectable Privileges
Additionally, you can choose 2 out of 3 of the following: 25% bonus Aeroplan Miles on select airlines, 35% discount on a Maple Leaf Club Membership, and 2 one-time access passes to a Maple Leaf Lounge. I recommend the 1st and 3rd option unless you are planning to buy a Maple Leaf Club Membership anyways. If you use the Aeroplan program bonus miles will likely benefit you, and Air Canada's network of Lounges includes one in most major Canadian airports and a few in other international hubs. If you don't already have lounge access from your credit card, this may be a valuable way to relax before your flight with a partner. Looking for a credit card with unmatched lounge access? We recommend the American Express Platinum Card, our pick for Canada's Best Luxury Card.
Is Altitude Prestige 25K Status Worth It?
I recommend everyone that is thinking about taking up Aeroplan on the Travel At Home Promotion read the benefits above and see if they are worthwhile for your travel next year. Overall, based on the summary of benefits above I think the Altitude program benefits are extremely lacking at Prestige 25K Status. If I was a traveller who had earned this benefit from travelling on many flights, I would feel a little ripped off on by Air Canada (although admittedly the Altitude program does get a lot better when you move up to higher tiers). But since this status is now so easy to earn, it is something to easier to consider.
I think whether or not this promotion is worth it to you is based on two factors: how invested you are as an Aeroplan and Air Canada customer, and where you are transferring the points from.
First off, I want to specifically call out American Express Platinum Cardholders, and state this promotion is probably not worth the effort unless you're very committed to wanting an Air Canada Altitude status. You already have lounge benefits, and Membership Rewards points on Platinum cards are currently worth 2 cents a point as direct cashback, which I would argue is on par or better than Aeroplan, and not to mention it's cash in your hand right now in this uncertain time versus a loyalty program that could be devalued.
If you aren't already invested in the Aeroplan program or aren't an active Air Canada customer, this promotion is probably not for you. There's no point in transferring and therefore spreading your points between multiple programs for some measly flight perks.
I think this promotion is a great idea for people who are already committed to or want to get a good start on the Aeroplan program, and who have a sizable portion of Membership Rewards points available to transfer. If you were already going to transfer those points to Aeroplan eventually, you might as well do that now and get added benefit from it. Overall I don't recommend transferring from Marriott Bonvoy points unless you are choosing to no longer focus on that program. There's too much value lost in that transfer from Marriott Bonvoy to Aeroplan generally. Looking to get started on earning Aeroplan Miles? Check out our Aeroplan Guide here.