As you likely saw across your feeds yesterday, Air Canada/Aeroplan have expanded their Travel at Home Program that was initially launched on April 6th, making it more accessible and rewarding for their customers. There are a few nuances to the program that I have received clarification on which I will detail in this post.
What is the Travel at Home Program?
Due to COVID-19, the folks in the Loyalty Department at Air Canada have come up with a novel way to keep their clients engaged even with very few aircraft in the air. This new marketing strategy allows Air Canada clients to chase and earn elite status without flying, something that was unheard of with AC prior to COVID. In the past, AC has done a very good job of protecting status in the Altitude program with very few public status match/status challenge opportunities, but given the new challenges airlines face, they are expanding how you can earn elite status.
Normally, the requirement to earn Air Canada Altitude status requires two criteria to be met:
- AQS – Altitude Qualifying Segments – the number of segments on Air Canada or other Star Alliance Partner flights.
- AQD – Altitude Qualifying Dollars – the amount of money that needs to be spent on Air Canada issued tickets. This means flights on Air Canada metal or Star Alliance metal flights that are ticketed by Air Canada.
But with the Travel at Home Program, they are waiving the AQS and AQD requirements and replacing them with Aeroplan activity as the measuring stick.
How Do I Participate?
First, you should know that there are two promotions and these promotions run from April 20, 2020 to May 31, 2020. We should talk about these two distinct offers:
- If you do not already have Altitude status with Air Canada, earn Altitude Prestige 25K status to the end of the 2021 status year (February 28, 2022) by earning 50,000 Aeroplan Miles within the promotion period.
- If you already have status within Air Canada’s Altitude Program, you can earn benefits depending on how many miles you put into your account. The benefits are listed below:
It’s important to note that in Promotion #2, the benefits are cumulative, so for example, if you managed to earn 100,000 Aeroplan Miles, you would receive each of the benefits in the prior tiers (1,500 Bonus AQM + 3,000 Bonus AQM + 20 eUpgrade credits + $1,000 Bonus AQD). However, the real prize is when you hit 250,000 Aeroplan Miles.
At 250,000 Aeroplan Miles earned, you are bumped up one full tier level in the Altitude program, so:
- 25K –> 35K
- 35K –> 50K
- 50K –> 75K
Unfortunately, you cannot move up more than one tier level and the maximum tier you can hit through this promotion is 75K. This protects the 100K Super Elite Tier and ensures that only true Air Canada loyalists make it into their highest (published) tier level.
Does All Aeroplan Activity Count?
In short, the answer is yes. Air Canada lists the following as eligible Aeroplan Miles (emphasis mine):
- Aeroplan credit card welcome bonus: The welcome bonus for a new Aeroplan credit card acquired by an Eligible Participant, provided the credit card was acquired during the Offer Period and in conformity with the applicable credit card terms and conditions.
- Aeroplan credit card spend: All Aeroplan spend-based earn shall include only Aeroplan Miles credited to the Eligible Participant’s Aeroplan account during the Offer Period, including Aeroplan Miles credited on the June 2020 statement. The applicable credit card terms and conditions shall apply
- eStore: Purchases must be made on the eStore during the Offer Period to qualify for the Offer, and in compliance with the eStore terms and conditions.
- All other activity: Unless otherwise stipulated, all Aeroplan Miles credited to the Eligible Participant’s Aeroplan account based on activity during the Offer Period shall qualify for the Offer.
Things like transfers from American Express Membership Rewards (MR) and transfers from Marriott Travel Packages count towards this promotion.
Why Are They Doing This?
Put simply, Air Canada is doing everything in its power to generate revenue and keep their clients engaged.
Waiving the ACS and AQD requirements makes perfect sense because no one is flying so revenues have been decimated and very few people are making tier organically. The one aspect of the Air Canada program that still makes money is the Aeroplan program.
In order to earn Aeroplan Miles, you need to shop through brick and mortar stores, online stores, or by converting hotel or credit card points. Every time this happens, Aeroplan (and thus Air Canada), turns a profit on the sale of those miles to retailers or credit card companies.
Quite frankly, Air Canada’s Loyalty Department is doing a masterful job at coming up with new and innovative ideas that are helping keep AC solvent.
Do Those With Status Through Status Challenges Qualify?
Yes, yes they do! I fall within this category as I completed a 6-segment Status Challenge that I clued you in on back in September, thereby qualifying for 35K status.
I asked Air Canada for clarification as to whether I would be bumped up to 50K if I managed to earn 250,000 Aeroplan Miles in the qualifying period and their answer was YES!
If you also completed the Status Challenge from Air Canada, this promotion might be right up your alley.
Is It Worth It?
Well, that kind of depends on your particular situation. As a 35K member, if I earned 250,000 Aeroplan Miles during the promotion period, I would move up to 50K. 50K is the magic sweet spot as you then become recognized as a Star Alliance Gold member. This status provides you with added benefits such as access to Star Alliance Gold lounges around the world regardless of what class of service you are flying.
Outside of the Star Alliance Gold benefits, there isn’t really too much difference between 35K and 50K outside of additional eUpgrade credits, so it might not be worth it for some. For a full understanding of the differences between the Air Canada Altitude Tiers, please refer to Air Canada’s official webpage on Altitude benefits.
For those without status, getting 25K status is well worth it if you plan on redeeming for North American award flights on Air Canada because you receive a fuel surcharge (YQ) waiver. However, if you don’t plan on redeeming for Air Canada flight awards for flights to and from Canada and the United States and you don’t fly Air Canada on regular revenue flights, it’s probably not worth it unless you are planning on transferring Membership Rewards points over to redeem for an award anyways.
How Do I Participate?
It’s really quite easy. Simply register for the promotion at https://www.aeroplan.com/travelathome.do#/ and then start earning Aeroplan Miles. Remember, the promotion period is only until May 31, 2020, so if you want to participate, you’d better get cracking.
The Air Canada Travel at Home Program is one of the most creative promotions in recent memory and has some excellent payback for the long term. Having status is always a good thing and having status till February 28, 2022 is AMAZING. I will be participating in the promotion and I’ll keep you updated as to when I receive my status upgrade.