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.
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