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Air Canada Altitude News

As most frequent-flyers in Canada know, Air Canada operates a loyalty program within a loyalty program, which is known a "Altitude."  Based on actual mileage flown during the calendar year (or, alternatively, number of flights), you may be awarded Prestige 25K, Elite 35K, Elite 50K, Elite 75K, or Super Elite 100K status for the following year.  With each higher status level comes additional benefits.  For example, 35K members get access to Air Canada's Maple Leaf lounges, while members with 50K status or better are given "Gold Status" with all Star Alliance partner airlines, which gives members access to all Star Alliance business lounges worldwide. 

To achieve each status level, you must earn either a certain level of flown mileage or fly a certain level of flight "segments.  The mileage criteria is known as AQM (Aeroplan Qualifying Miles) and the flights criteria (the alternative way to earn status0 is known as AQS (Aeroplan Qualifying Segments.)  So, Elite 50K, for example can be achieved either by earning 50 "AQM" or flying 50 "AQS".  Not all miles and not all segments are the same, however.  If you fly a cheaper level of airfare (for example Air Canada's "Tango" fares) you earn fewer miles (only 25% in Canada, 50% elsewhere).  Some Star Alliance partner airlines don't give miles at all for their lowest offerings.  So,  you are chasing status, watch out!

As of 2016, Air Canada added a second qualifying criteria to the equation, once which has caused some of our long-time Super Elite members some grief.  Now, to requalify for each level, in addition to making the AQM or AQS target, you must also make a dollar "spend" amount on Air Canada flights (AC operated or AC coded).  The big deal is Super Elite status, which requires $20,000 "AQD" (Aeroplan Qualifying Dollars).  Some of our Super Elite members in the past have qualified while spending as little as $11,000 on Air Canada flights.  So, this criteria presents a challenge.  It does have the effect of making Altitude members more conscious of which airline in the Star Alliance they fly, since they are now motivated to spend as much as possible with Air Canada.

As always, these benefits are a bit tricky and perhaps even misleading.  And, as you can see, re-qualifying for status each year can be challenging. We urge you to contact your consultant, who knows your travel patterns.  He/she will be able to give you excellent advice.


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