It was only a matter of time before we saw this happen. It is now Air Canada’s turn to introduce minimum spending requirement to qualify for elite airline status. The changes will come into effect as of January 1, 2016, for elite qualifying status in 2017.
Air Canada is introducing “Altitude Qualifying Dollars” (AQD) that needs to be combined with Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM) or Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS) to determine Altitude elite status. The AQM or AQS requirements remain the same. The AQD replaces the Minimum Air Canada Flight Requirement. Below is a table of the requirements to qualify for each tier:
|Prestige 25K||25,000||25||$ 3,000|
|Elite 35K||35,000||35||$ 4,000|
|Elite 50K||50,000||50||$ 6,000|
|Elite 75K||75,000||75||$ 9,000|
|Super Elite 100K||100,000||95||$ 20,000|
Essentially, the new qualification rule, to earn AQD, requires a minimum annual spending on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada Rouge. This includes codeshare flights marketed by another airline and operated by Air Canada. Codeshare flights must be marketed by Air Canada and operated by Star Allianc partner airlines ticketed on Air Canada ticket stock (ticket numbers beginning with “014”). However, flights marketed by Air Canada but operated by airlines that are not Star Alliance partners and codeshare flights marketed and operated by other airlines do not count towards AQD.
The good news is that you will also earn AQDs for eligible Flight Pass purchases and eUpgrade Add-ons based on the monetary value of the purchase.
Unfortunately, you cannot earn AQDs with certain promotional tickets, Flight Passes, opaque fares, group, consolidated or bulk fares as well as all-inclusive vacation packages (flights and hotel) purchased through Air Canada Vacations or other websites offering vacation packages. Also, baggage service charges, Maple Leaf Club membership, Last-Minute Paid Upgrades and Air Canada Café do not count for AQDs.
Exceptions to the Exceptions
There is are some exceptions though, for eligible limited-credit Flight Pass purchases, you will be credited based on the value of each individual flight segment for the base fare and the carrier-imposed surcharges. For eligible Unlimited Flight Passes, your AQD will be credited upon payment of your monthly installment. For eligible Corporate Flight Passes where there is more than one traveller, the AQD value will be credited to the person who travels, not to the purchaser.
Personally, I’m not too bothered by these changes. I know that it will be more difficult to qualify for status. The airlines are essentially rewarding those who spend the most on them, which actually makes sense to me.
The hope is that with less people qualifying for elite status, it makes it that much more “prestigious” when you do qualify!