If you’ve always been loyal to Air Canada and cherish your Elite or Super Elite status, then you’ll likely be feeling pretty let down by all the crazy changes they just made to their loyalty program. In summary:
It just got harder to earn miles towards earning elite status. From March 1st 2015, you have to earn 50% of your miles on actual Air Canada flights, not on flights with partnered airlines. Also, they’ve scrapped the 500 mile minimum that we used to get, so shorter flights have lost their value as a quick way to grab those extra miles you need (and I know plenty of people that rushed to get a few puddle-jumper flights in so that they’d keep their status every year – sucks for them!). Elite members will pay more for upgrades, and Super Elites will incur new fees for ticket changes. If you’re a 35,000 mile flier who loved international lounge access and using Star Alliance member lounges, well kiss that goodbye as that benefit will be going too.
The only positive change (besides an apparently improved in some way boarding process that they haven’t actually given any details on) is that those with all levels of elite membership will no longer have to pay fuel surcharged in domestic and US flights, and Super Elite won’t pay them on international flights.
So, what’s a frequent flier to do? For a start, you could take your business over to Westjet, who are offering free Gold Status to those who want to migrate their loyalty (all you need to do is provide proof of your top tier status on Air Canada and email them by January 31st 2015).
You could also use those Aeroplan points to buy products instead of flights (lets face it, since the last round of changes Air Canada made, that has been increasingly difficult to do anyway). As an FYI, I cashed mine in to buy some nice Roots leather luggage, after realizing that the points I had were going to fly me nowhere.