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[ANALYSIS] Elite Status with Air Canada Altitude, Prestige 25K

Not to be confused with the Aeroplan Program, Air Canada operates its own elite program called: Altitude. The program consists of five elite statuses: Prestige 25K, Elite 35K, Elite 50K, Elite 75K and Super Elite 100K. This post is going to focus on Prestige 25K. We will be posting about the other statuses later on.

To qualify for the Prestige 25K status, you need to earn 25,000 Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM) or 25 Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS) on Air Canada or Star Alliance flights during a calendar year. Furthermore, you will need to earn at least 10,000 AQM or 5 AQS on eligible flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express or Air Canada rouge. This is separate from the Aeroplan program, because while you are earning AQMs and AQSs, you are still earning Aeroplan points at the same time because they are two separate programs, so you are already in an automatic double dipping scenario!

AQMs will depend on the distance that you travel and the type of ticket that you purchase. I wrote more about AQMs here. AQSs are more straightforward. It just depends on how many actual flights you take. This number can add up quickly if you have layover flights because each plane you board counts as 1 AQS.

Once you reached Prestige 25K, you will be able to choose from a host of benefits. These benefits include (in alphabetical order):

500 Mile Minimum – Earn a minimum of 500 points for flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Air Canada rouge and Star Alliance member airlines, regardless of distance traveled.

Air Canada Duty Free Boutique Discount Coupon – Discount on an eligible Duty Free Boutique purchase on-board an international flight operated by Air Canada.

Complimentary Access to Montreal Maple Leaf Lounge for Travel to Toronto City Airport – Get access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge located in the domestic departure zone of Montreal Trudeau Airport when travelling on a same-day flight operated by Air Canada Express from Montreal to Toronto City Airport.

Complimentary Checked Baggage Allowance – 2 complimentary checked bags (23 kilograms limit) on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Complimentary Preferred Seats – Access Preferred Seats with extra legroom on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Complimentary Sports Equipment Handling – Waived handling fees when special items (bicycles, etc.) on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Priority Airport Check-In – Check-in at the Air Canada Business Class counters when traveling on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Priority Airport Standby – Standby with priority for another flight at the airport. Should a seat become available, you will be assigned that seat with priority if you have purchased an eligible fare.

Priority Contacts – Be first in line when you contact the Air Canada and Aeroplan Call Centres

Priority Reservation Waitlist – Waitlist with priority for a flight at full capacity. Should a seat become available prior to the flight departure date, you will be assigned that seat with priority if you have purchased an eligible fare. Note that this does not apply to Aeroplan Flight Rewards.

Priority Seat Selection – Choose your seats sooner on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge.

Star Alliance Recognition – Be recognized for silver status by over 25 Star Alliance member airlines around the world. Perks include priority reservation waitlist and priority airport standby.

Threshold Rewards – Reach certain Altitude Qualifying Mile thresholds, and pick from a range of Threshold Gifts. Additionally, for every 20,000 AQM you earn, enjoy additional eUpgrade Credits.

Below are additional benefits that you can choose from.

Choose 1 of 2:

1) Altitude Bonus with Air Canada and select airline partners – Earn 25% Bonus Aeroplan points on eligible flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Air Canada rouge, Copa Airlines, United, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS and TAM. Note that these bonus Aeroplan points do not qualify for AQMs with the Altitude program.

2) Discount on Maple Leaf Club Membership – Get a 35% discount on the purchase of any Maple Leaf Club membership.

The choice is quite simple for me, I prefer Aeroplan bonus points over a discount for lounge access membership.

Choose 2 of 3:

1) eUpgrade Credits – 20 credits will be deposited into your eUpgrade account and be used to upgrade to Business Class on eligible Air Canada and Air Canada Express flights.

2) Maple Leaf Lounge One-Time Guest Passes – Receive 4 one-time passes for access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges located in the domestic and transborder zones of Canadian airports, Los Angeles and New York (LaGuardia). Access applies when you and your guests are traveling on a same-day flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express or Air Canada rouge.

3) aircanada.com Travel Options – Enjoy complimentary Onboard Café or Maple Leaf Lounge access on eligible reservations completed at aircanada.com for up to six passengers. There are several restrictions to keep in mind. This options applies only on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge, and all travel must be booked and completed by June 30 of the following year. Furthermore, Onboard Café only applies on flights within North America over 2 hours. This privilege cannot be used in conjunction with Flight Pass reservations or Aeroplan rewards flights, nor be used together with another promotion code.

The third option has too many restrictions so I would go with options 1) and 2).

Choose 1 of 2:

1) eUpgrade Credits for eligible Flight Pass activities – For every eligible Flight Pass activity, earn 4 eUpgrade Credits that will be deposited into your eUpgrade account. Credits can be used on eligible flights operated by Air Canada and Air Canada Express in order to upgrade to Business Class.

2) Altitude Qualifying Miles for eligible Flight Pass activities – For every eligible Flight Pass activity, earn 750 AQMs for the Altitude program and 750 Aeroplan points.

This one will depend on whether you value business class or bonus points more. The upgrades to business class might have more value because business class tickets are much more expensive than economy, but if you need AQMs to qualify for elite status next year, then AQMs would make more sense.

You can use your eUpgrade credits for:

eUpgrade Booking Window – Request your eUpgrade within the booking window for your eligible fare.

eUpgrade Eligibility on Air Canada flights to international destinations – With the required number of eUpgrade Credits, access International Business Class on flights (to Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East & South America) operated by Air Canada with the purchase of an eligible fare. Effective March 1st, 2014, all Altitude Elite members will be required to pay an eUpgrade Add-on when upgrading from eligible Flex fares.

eUpgrade Eligibility on Air Canada flights within North America (including Sun destinations) – With the required number of eUpgrade Credits, upgrade on flights (Sun destinations include Caribbean, Mexico and Central America) operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada rouge with the purchase of an eligible fare.

eUpgrade Travel Companion – Upgrade one companion who is traveling: (1) on the same reservation, or (2) on the day of departure upgrade the companion not on the same reservation but at least on the same flight.

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