In a post a few days ago, I discussed how discouraged I’ve become with Aeroplan, and how I’m moving my account balance over to US Airways (and hopefully eventually to the American AAdvantage program).
So you may be surprised to hear that I still plan to credit all of my Star Alliance flights this year to Aeroplan. Why? Because I want to make sure to get Elite status with Air Canada in 2014.
Air Canada has recently changed their elite program. Now called “Air Canada Altitude”, there are 5 different status levels, attained by flying 25K, 35K, 50K, 75K, or 100K miles. I expect to fly between 50,000 and 60,000 miles on revenue (non-award) tickets this year. By hitting the 50K level, I’ll earn Star Alliance Gold Status, as well as getting 40 eUpgrade credits that can be used to upgrade economy tickets on Air Canada metal to business class.
I already have Star Alliance Gold Status for the next few years through Aegean Air, so I’m really doing this for the upgrade credits. There’s no guarantee for any given flight that I’ll be able to upgrade using the eUpgrade credits - on the Flyertalk discussion boards the upgrade program is known as AeroLotto since getting an upgrade is a bit of a crapshoot. But when the upgrades do go through, it’s great.
One alternative I was considering was crediting my flights to the United Mileage Plus program instead. 50,000 miles credited to the program gives Premier Gold. The key benefits there are free access to Economy Plus seats while flying on United Metal, as well as complimentary upgrades to business class for most North American flights if there is availability. (Although since those at higher tiers get priority for those upgrades, they are hard to come by).
I decided it made the most sense for me to go with the Air Canada status instead since Steven currently is United Premier Gold, and will remain so through the end of 2014. Since we travel together for many of our trips, and since many of the benefits of a program can extend to your traveling companion, it seemed logical that we get our status on different programs. When we fly together on United metal, his status will get us both Economy Plus seating. When we are flying on Air Canada metal, we can play AeroLotto and hopefully occasionally upgrade to business class. (And I DO like flying on Air Canada metal. While I have issues with them not giving full status miles on their lowest fare tickets, their product in the air is magnitudes better than other North American airlines IMHO).
Unfortunately, there’s no way to credit the miles towards getting status on Air Canada without also crediting the miles towards the Aeroplan program. So my plan is that everytime I hit the 5,000 minimum balance required for a points.com transfer from Aeroplan to US Airways I will initiate a transfer out. Hopefully the transfer ratio won’t be changing any time soon.
And this is total speculation, but I certainly hope that in time Air Canada will distance themselves more and more from Aeroplan. They are totally separate companies, and what is in the best interest of one isn’t always in the best interest of the other. It’s probably a longshot, but it would be great to one day be able to get elite status with Air Canada, but be able to earn redeemable miles with a program other than Aeroplan. I’m sure when Aeroplan was spun off from Air Canada enough reciprocal contracts were signed to keep this from happening for some time to come, but a points-whore like me can still dream.