Air Canada Extends Elite Status And Makes It Easy To Keep Earning – And Gifting – Status

Air Canada Aeroplan has announced its elite status extension plan, following earlier announcements by Delta and by United.

Just as Delta has their own unique twist on status extensions – that the program’s rollover miles feature lets them continue to reward flying this year even with status already secure, because flying this year will combine with next year’s travel for status in 2022 – Air Canada has come up with a couple of interesting things to make it worth continuing to earn status and make it even easier to do so even while doing something good during the current crisis.

  • Elite status extended through end of 2021. All current 2020 Air Canada Altitude status is extended through end of next year (though of course it’s still possible to earn a higher level of status).

  • Gift elite status if you earn status. If you earn status for next year even though existing status is already assured, then you can gift it to someone (‘a friend or family member’ i.e. don’t sell it on eBay).

  • Earn elite qualifying miles for donating redeemable miles to COVID-19 charities. Miles can be converted into elite qualifying miles. Through end of month every 5 miles donated to an eligible charity will earn one elite qualifying mile, up to 25,000 qualifying miles.


Copyright: ronniechua / 123RF Stock Photo

I love the idea of donating miles earning elite qualifying miles. I wish this wasn’t limited to April (more time, and thus an incentive, to keep earning miles in the program from credit card spend etc) and I wish it wasn’t capped. I might be tempted to top off my Aeroplan account and earn Super Elite status via donation. Of course they’d need to offer to waive minimum spend requirements for that status level, too.

I wrote in ‘What Should Loyalty Programs Do While People Aren’t Traveling’. Airlines are going to need their best customers once they’re traveling again, and they need to engage those customers while they aren’t traveling.

Delta went first with its status extension, putting pressure on United to do the same, and it makes sense that Air Canada is doing this as well. They’re at least giving members a reason to keep flying, since they can gift status rather than keeping it themselves (since their same status is secure next year) and there’s a way to remain engaged in the elite program through donations, albeit only in the near term.

Air Canada is especially well-positioned to do the one thing I failed to mention in that piece, which is offer transfer bonuses for moving points into their program from others. That generates cash from partners, and the bonus points they fund aren’t going to be redeemed in most cases for quite some time.

Meanwhile Air Canada will waive award ticket cancel and redeposit fees through April 30, and won’t expire points due to account inactivity until May 15. I think expiration will need to be paused a bit longer, but I’ve just deposited a few points into my Aeroplan account a month ahead of time just to be sure I don’t forget and let my (not insubstantial) balance lapse.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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