While US frequent flyer programs seem to be taking the hardest hit lately in terms of devaluations, it looks like our friendly neighbors to the North are drinking some of the US airline Kool-Aid as well.
Air Canada Aeroplan will be adding a revenue requirement for status in 2016, by introducing what they call Altitude Qualifying Dollars. That means if in 2016 you want to qualify for status in the 2017 program, you’ll have to spend up. Why are they introducing these changes? In their own words:
These changes reflect similar requirements in other global frequent flyer programs and will ensure that we continue to better recognize our most valued customers.
So yeah, they’re doing it because all the cool airlines are doing it, and they think the way to “better recognize [their] most valued customers” is by thinning out elite ranks without adding more benefits.
So how much do you need to spend to earn status in the Air Canada Altitude program?
- Prestige 25K status requires 25,000 miles OR 25 segments AND 3,000CAD spend
- Elite 35K status requires 35,000 miles OR 35 segments AND 4,000CAD spend
- Elite 50K status requires 50,000 miles OR 50 segments AND 6,000CAD spend
- Elite 75K status requires 75,000 miles OR 75 segments AND 9,000CAD spend
- Super Elite 100K status requires 100,000 miles OR 95 segments AND 20,000CAD spend
It’s interesting that for Prestige 25K, Elite 50K, and Elite 75K they’re aiming for a revenue requirement of 12 cents per mile. It’s even a bit lower for Elite 35K, at 11.4 cents per mile, though presumably that’s just to keep the numbers round.
But then at Super Elite 100K status that requirement increases immensely, to a whopping 20 cents per mile.
It’s pretty clear what Air Canada is trying to do here is decrease the number of people with SuperElite 100K status, as they’re hit the hardest with these changes by far.
The one positive aspect of the change (if you can call it that) is that Air Canada is eliminating the minimum Air Canada Flight requirement for status in the 2016 program year.
There are two other things which are noteworthy:
- While Delta innovated the revenue requirement and United followed, they both waive the requirement if you spend a certain amount on their credit card. Air Canada isn’t offering such an alternative method of reaching the requirement, at least as of now.
- Air Canada is continuing to award miles based on distance flown, but is adding a revenue requirement. This is the opposite of American’s recent changes, whereby they began awarding miles based on distance flown, but didn’t introduce a revenue requirement. In fairness, Aeroplan also awards 25-50% of miles flown for many discounted fare classes, so they’re not like US airlines in awarding 100% miles even for discounted economy.
Of course it sucks to see programs devalue and increase the requirements for status. In this case the ~12 cent per mile threshold doesn’t seem totally unreasonable (keep in mind this is in CAD and not USD), while the 20 cent per mile threshold for Super Elite 100K is staggeringly high. I suspect this will cause a lot of people to lose their top tier status.
What do you make of airlines introducing revenue requirements — a good way to thin out elite ranks, or just plain greedy?