Air Canada Altitude Ties Status to Spend

Air Canada has joined the ever-growing list of airlines tying elite status to dollars spent. Status in the carrier’s Altitude program will now include a miles or segments flown component as well as a dollars spent factor. The numbers for the lowest four tiers in the program are typical compared to other North American programs. The top tier, however, will take a bit of effort to realize.


The $20,000 “AQDs” price tag on Elite 100K status is very much a premium number and should thin the ranks of the top tier within the program notably. The addition of AQDs to the qualifying requirements comes on top of last year’s significant increase in the number of segments flown on Air Canada-operated flights to qualify for status. Clearly Air Canada wants to be rewarding travelers who fly primarily on its flights. The new rules take effect on 1 January 2016 and apply to qualification for the 2017 program year.

The Elite 100K tier offers a few extra benefits over the 75K level, perhaps most significantly a waiver of fuel surcharges for international awards operated by Air Canada. There are also additional eUpgrade certificates, higher mileage earning and expanded access to business class award seats.

There’s also the part where government fees and taxes are generally higher in Canada than in the United States meaning that passengers will need to spend even more in total airfare to hit the qualification targets. A $194 flight YYZ-YEG will earn only 147 AQDs. A $180 flight JFK-FLL would earn 151 so figure the $194 version in the US would be more like 162 AQDs, a full 10% more earnt per ticket (Both fares in USD on this comparison).

The Elite100K tier in the Altitude program just became a mighty expensive proposition.

h/t mevlannen

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. $20,000 CAD is about $14,900 USD. Not too far off Star partner United asking for $12,000 spend for its 1K level.

    1. That’s still 20% more than UA and there’s the significant difference in total spend required given the PFCs and taxes are higher in Canada. It depends on the route profile, obviously, but that difference could be a significant chunk of the action.

      1. Beyond that their lowest fares still only earn 25%/50% EQM (Canada/International), so if you spend $20K on their lowest fares you’re highly unlikely to make the required EQM. That YEG-YYZ fare for example only earns 418 EQM/RDM.

  2. Clearly UA MP is the best play now for Canadians who fly AC a lot. No CPU on AC anyways, eUp credits require $$ fare class, and Aeroplan is about to have another annual devaluation. Plus earn more useful United miles that never have YQ, and skip the EQD min spend as a non-resident. Even if you are a true Super Elite flying on shareholder money, you’ll get more miles from UA revenue-based system.

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