Aeroplan and Air Canada Altitude: The Ultimate Guide

Introduction

Aeroplan is the leading loyalty program in Canada. While many people call it Air Canada's frequent flyer program, it was actually spun out over a decade ago and is an independent entity, separate from Air Canada. Aimia, the company that owns Aeroplan, is also involved in other loyalty programs around the world as well, although Aeroplan is likely the one with the best public recognition. Aeroplan celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2014 and now has over 5 million members.

Air Canada is the flag carrier and largest airline of Canada. Founded in 1936, Air Canada flies to 200 destinations on five continents. Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance network, a group of 27 airlines which fly to over 1300 destinations in the world.

Joining the Program

Anyone can sign up for free to become an Aeroplan member. Simply visit the Enroll as a Member page on the Aeroplan online website, and fill in your personal information and preferences to be able to start earning miles.

Aeroplan Distinction

Elite Status Benefits

Although Aeroplan is not an airline, it is one of the airline affiliated loyalty programs that offer elite tiers, designed to reward their most loyal members. There are three levels of Distinction status within the Aeroplan program, each with their own benefits. These benefits are attained by earning qualifying Distinction Aeroplan miles with partner transactions. Only some partners are Distinction-qualifying. To determine whether earned Aeroplan miles are Distinction qualifying, you would have to check your account statement, which will show Distinction qualifying transactions. Reaching an Distinction level is dependent on the number of qualifying Distinction miles each member earns, based on the calendar year. Benefits are actually quite useful, and include access to dExclusives, access to flights reserved just for Distinction members, and other flight and travel offers.

Aeroplan Distinction
Aeroplan Distinction LeveldSilverdBlackdDistinction
Qualifying Miles Needed25,00050,000100,000
Market Fare Flight Reward Discounts (up to)20% off25% off35% off
Distinction Hotel Bonus (per Stay)-250 miles250 miles
Distinction Air Canada Getaway Bonus on eligible roundtrips500 miles1,000 miles1,500 miles
eStore and SHOP.CA Bonus Miles2x2x3x
Contact Center Priority Access--
dExclusives

Earning Aeroplan Miles

From Flights

Miles from flights are calculated based on the operating carrier of the flights, regardless of the airline stock your ticket is plated on or the marketing carrier. The miles you earn from flights are dependent on the fare class your ticket is booked in. Air Canada maintains five categories of fare classes. A higher fare class, usually in conjunction with a more expensive ticket, will get you more miles than lower discount fare classes. Find out how many miles each fare class earns, which differ for domestic, regional, and international flights here.

As Air Canada is part of Star Alliance, you can earn not only miles on Air Canada flights, but also other flights operated by Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world. That means the next time you're flying United, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, or any of the other airlines in Star Alliance, you could be earning valuable Aeroplan miles. The amount of miles you earn is dependent on the fare class and the airline you fly, as each airline may award a different amount of miles even if you have the same fare class. To see how many miles you can earn from a Star Alliance partner flight, check the Aeroplan site for each individual airline.

From Other Activities

Aeroplan makes it easy to earn miles from other everyday activities, with a wide range of travel, retail, and online partners.

If you love to shop online, you can also earn miles while you shop with Aeroplan participating online retailers. To earn miles, you'll have to access your preferred shopping site via the Aeroplan eStore because only then will Aeroplan be able to track your spending activity. You can earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent on well-known brands such as Apple, Macy's, GAP, eBay, and more.

View the full list of offline and eStore partners on the Partners pane under the Earn Miles tab.

Aeroplan Credit Cards

Aeroplan also partners with several Canadian credit card issuers, allowing members to earn Aeroplan miles on everyday purchases from their credit card. These are only available for Canadian residents meeting the age of majority in their province/territory with good credit.

Aeroplan Visas were originally issued by CIBC until late-2013. However, when the agreement between Aeroplan and CIBC came up for renewal, Aeroplan decided to sign an agreement with TD, who is now the primary issuer of Visa co-branded Aeroplan credit cards. CIBC still offers Aeroplan co-branded cards, although they can only market offers to their own customers. American Express also has an agreement with Aeroplan, issuing co-branded American Express charge cards as well as having an option for the points from their own rewards cards to be transferable to Aeroplan.

Each issuer has three tiers of credit cards, each with their own value benefits, with annual fees ranging from $39 all the way to $899 CAD. Below, you'll find details for all Aeroplan co-branded credit cards out there (details subject to change).

TD Aeroplan Visa Platinum Card

Signup Bonus: 10,000 Aeroplan Miles with first purchase

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1.50 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 1 Mile/$ on Gas, Grocery, and Drug Store purchases

Annual Fee: $89

CIBC Aero Platinum Card

Signup Bonus: 5,000 Miles With First Purchase

Minimum Income Requirement: $15,000 Household

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile per
$1.50 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 1 Mile/$ at participating CIBC
Bonus Reward Partners

Annual Fee: $39

American Express AeroplanPlus Card

Signup Bonus: 5,000 Miles with First Purchase

Minimum Income Requirement: $20,000 Personal

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent

Annual Fee: $60

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

Signup Bonus: 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with first purchase

Minimum Income Requirement: $60,000 Personal or $100,000 Household

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 1.5 Miles/$ on Gas, Grocery, Drug Stores, and at aircanada.com

Annual Fee: $120

Benefits on Aeroplan Awards: 1 MLL Guest Pass when Travelling with Air Canada, Free First Checked Bag on Air Canada (primary cardholder only), Priority Check-In and Boarding (primary cardholder only)

CIBC Visa Aeroplan Infinite Card

Signup Bonus: 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with First Purchase

Minimum Income Requirement: $60,000 Personal or $100,000 Household

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 1.5 Miles/$ on Gas, Grocery, Drug Stores, and at aircanada.com. Earn up to 3 Miles/$ on participating CIBC Bonus Rewards Partners.

Annual Fee: $120

Benefits on Aeroplan Awards: 1 MLL Guest Pass when Travelling with Air Canada, Free First Checked bag on Air Canada (primary cardholder only), Priority Check-In and Boarding (primary cardholder only)

American Express AeroplanPlus Gold Card

Signup Bonus: 15,000 Aeroplan Miles with $500 spend within three months

Minimum Income Requirement: $20,000 Personal

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent up to $10,000

Bonus Categories: Earn 1.25 Miles/$ on purchases after $10,000 spend annually

Annual Fee: $120

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card

Signup Bonus: 25,000 Aeroplan Miles with First Purchase

Minimum Income Requirement: $200,000 Household

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 1.5 Miles/$ on Gas, Grocery, Drug Stores, and at aircanada.com

Annual Fee: $399

Benefits on Aeroplan Awards: 4 MLL Guest Pass when Travelling with Air Canada, Priority Check-In and Boarding (primary cardholder/reward only), Free First Checked bag on Air Canada (Aeroplan Reward only)

CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Privilege Card

Signup Bonus: 25,000 Aeroplan Miles with First Purchase

Minimum Income Requirement: $200,000 Household

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 1.5 Miles/$ on Gas, Grocery, Drug Stores, and at aircanada.com, Earn up to 3.75 Miles/$ on participating CIBC Bonus Rewards Partners

Annual Fee: $399

Benefits on Aeroplan Awards: 4 MLL Guest Pass when Travelling with Air Canada

Benefits Available on all Air Canada Tickets: Priority Check-In and Boarding (primary cardholder/reward only), Free First Checked bag on Air Canada (Aeroplan Reward only)

American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card

Signup Bonus: 40,000 Aeroplan Miles with $1,000 spend within first three months

Minimum Income Requirement: $40,000 Personal

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent up to $25,000 annually

Bonus Categories: Earn 1.5 Miles/$ on purchases after $25,000 spend annually

Annual Fee: $499

Benefits Available on all Air Canada Tickets: Complimentary Access to Maple Leaf Lounges (primary cardholder only), Priority Check-In, Free First Checked bag on Air Canada (5 maximum/year), 2-for-1 short-haul Reward Ticket

American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card

Signup Bonus: 50,000 Aeroplan Miles with $3,000 spend within first three months

Minimum Income Requirement: $60,000 Personal

Reward Points for Spend: Earn 1.25 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent

Bonus Categories: Earn 2 Miles/$ for eligible Air Canada purchases

Annual Fee: $899

Benefits Available on all Air Canada Tickets: Complimentary Access to Maple Leaf Lounges, Priority Check-In, Free First Checked bag on Air Canada (5 maximum/year)

There is only one co-branded credit card offered to US residents from TD Bank. The card provides the following features:

  • 25,000 mile welcome bonus with $1,000 spend during the first 3 months
  • 1 Aeroplan Mile per $1 spent on purchases
  • 2x Aeroplan Miles per $1 spent on Air Canada purchases
  • $95 Annual Fee (Waived First Year)

American Express Membership Rewards points in the United States also transfer instantly with Aeroplan.

Purchasing and Sharing Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan does not offer a direct option to purchase miles, but allows members to top-up for a redemption if the account does not have enough miles for a flight reward. The cost to do this is 3 cents per mile. If you just want to purchase miles, it might be worth it to purchase miles from Starwood Preferred Guest points, then transfer them to Aeroplan with a 25% bonus in 20,000 point increments, making each Aeroplan mile only 2.8 cents. This is even cheaper when Starwood has a promotional sale on purchased points.

Aeroplan miles expire after 12 months on inactivity. Previously, Aeroplan miles have had a 7-year expiry period, although was scrapped when Aeroplan revamped their program.

Transferring Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan miles can be transferred between accounts for 2 cents apiece. While not the best option, it may make sense to do this if you're just missing a few thousand miles for a reward and pressed for time to come up with other opportunities to earn Aeroplan miles. Or, you might just be the person that has a lot of friends who don't know what to do with the several thousand miles in their account. If your friends happen to be flush with Aeroplan miles, you can always ask them (nicely) to redeem flights in your name from their account. The reverse is true as well; you are able to redeem flight and other rewards in your own account for friends and family.

To top up your Aeroplan account, miles can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio from the Canadian and American version of American Express Membership Rewards. The transfer is instant for both programs. That often comes in quite handy if you have spare Membership Rewards points lying around. As well, you can also transfer other hotel points into Aeroplan such as Marriott Rewards, Hilton HHonors, IHG (Intercontinental) Rewards, Choice Privileges, Best Western Rewards, and Coast Hotel Rewards. Unfortunately, those transfers are at poorer ratios. The only hotel transfer partner which transfers at parity (and better) is the Starwood Preferred Guest program, depending on the increments of points transferred.

While most airline frequent flyer programs do not allow points to be transferred to other airline's frequent flyer accounts, Aeroplan partners with points.com, allowing you to do just that. You are able to move points to and from your Aeroplan account with other airline, hotel, and loyalty currencies in various ratios. Similar to hotel transfer partners, the ratios are quite poor. 1000 Aeroplan points will get you between 200 to 750 points in other programs. This is the same for transferring other types of points and miles into your Aeroplan account.

Redeeming Aeroplan Miles

Flight Rewards

When you've become an expert in collecting points to the extent that you now have enough miles to redeem to Bali in First Class, one of the best feelings is actually redeeming them! Whether for that luxury honeymoon trip, a weekend getaway to a new city, or even just returning back home for some R&R, you feel like you've won the lottery when you see the flight itinerary show up in your email inbox. Read on to learn all about how to best redeem your hard-earned Aeroplan miles.

Air Canada Business Class on the Boeing 787

Aeroplan has one award chart for Air Canada and other Star Alliance partners. This chart is zone-based, meaning that flying from anywhere in the continental United States and Canada to Asia Zone 1 will be the same price. You are able to mix as many airlines as you want, with each reward having a maximum of 16 segments. All redemption flights are subject to award inventory. Availability and dates may vary - there is no guarantee that you will be able to get the exact flight on the exact date you want. One-way awards cost 50% of the round-trip total, but are permitted only to and from North America. Here's the award chart, with prices on a round-trip basis.

Flying on some airlines will rack up fuel surcharges, which are additional taxes to be paid on the reward ticket. It's best to avoid these carriers, since that means you'll be able to save up to $1100 on a round trip award ticket! The following airlines do not have fuel surcharges:

United Airlines (UA)
EVA Air (BR)
Air China (CA)
Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Swiss (LX)
Turkish Airlines (TK)
SAS (SK)
South African Airlines (SA)
Egyptair (MS)
Ethiopian Airlines (ET)
Aegean Airlines (A3)
Croatia Airlines (OU)
Shenzhen Airlines (ZH)
Copa Airlines (CM)
Avianca (AV)

Additionally, Aeroplan also has several regional airline partners that are not part of Star Alliance, mostly within North America. With most of these regional partners, you are only able to combine these flights with Air Canada segments, and would cost 25,000 miles round-trip in economy class.

Many members are frustrated when their preferred dates do not have flight award availability, so Aeroplan has addressed this by offering Market Fare flight rewards. These awards are available on any Air Canada-operated flight. The miles required to redeem for a Market Fare flight award is variable, and correlated with the paid price for that exact flight. With Diamond status, some flights are only a mild 35-50% premium over the classic award price. Not bad for having access to every single Air Canada flight out there, especially if the flight you're looking at has no ClassicFlight award space.

Other Rewards

Although flight rewards are the most popular redemption option for most members, Aeroplan also offers a wide variety of rewards to satisfy any loyal member's desires. These include free car rentals, hotels stays, as well as merchandise rewards such as gift cards and electronics. For the complete list of merchandise and other awards available for redemption with your points, see the Aeroplan website.

Aeroplan also offers dExclusives, which are unique awards that are auctioned off. These are only available to Distinction members. In addition to offering offers such as concert tickets and sports memorabilia, the star of all the experiences available for redemption are the unique getaways offered. Past auctions have included the chance to be at the finals at the US Open Tennis Championships and a luxury South Africa safari getaway. Although requiring a lot of miles, these rewards allow members to gain experiences that normally aren't offered by redeeming frequent flyer miles.

To see what awards are available for bidding, check out dexclusives.aeroplan.com.

Missing Aeroplan Miles?

If you've recently taken a flight but haven't received miles for it, you can request flight mileage credit through the online form, after having waited at least 14 days from your travel date. Be sure to have your original boarding pass and e-ticket receipt for reference. You can also request mileage credit for non-flight activities within six months of your transaction date. In most cases, the Aeroplan FAQ page directs you to contact the non-airline partner directly.

Air Canada Elite Status

Elite Status Benefits

Air Canada also operates their own elite status program, called Altitude. This is the more typical elite status program that many travelers are familiar with, rewarding frequent flyers of Air Canada with upgrades, bonus mile earnings, and airport lounge access. In nearly all cases, only miles earned from paid cash tickets are Altitude Qualifying, and are not transferable between members. There are 5 tiers of Altitude Status, starting at flyers who attained 25,000 Elite Altitude Qualifying Miles (AQM), all the way up to their top-tier status called Super Elite 100k for jetsetters who rack up at least 100,000 Altitude Qualifying Miles per calendar year.

Air Canada Lounges

Air Canada offers airport lounge access at all their hub cities, and many destination cities around the world. Since Air Canada does not offer international first class, their lounges are not in the same league as the best airport lounges in the world, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, Singapore Airlines The Private Room in Singapore, or Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney, but nonetheless provide all the creature comforts that a frequent traveler or vacationer needs.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Frankfurt

To determine what lounges you have access to at the airport, and whether you're eligible to access the Maple Leaf Lounges, download the LoungeBuddy App and enter your trip information for complete details. If you're not eligible, you may be able to instantly purchase lounge access depending on the airport you're flying out from.

There are five main ways to access Maple Leaf Lounges.

Elite Status

Air Canada Altitude Members, as well as Star Alliance Gold Status members, can access Maple Leaf Lounges when on a Star Alliance carrier-operated flight. See our Ultimate Guide to Star Alliance for more details about Star Alliance. The best way to determine whether you have access through your elite status is by downloading LoungeBuddy on the App Store, and putting in your information.

Travelers on Select Air Canada Fares

Travelers who have booked a Latitude Fare can purchase Lounge Access for $25 CAD/USD, and those who have booked a Flex Fare can purchase Lounge Access for $50 CAD/USD. This can be done through accessing your booking online on Air Canada's site up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.

Credit Cards

Three American Express issued charge cards in Canada have complimentary access to Maple Leaf Lounges, when travelling same-day on a confirmed flight operated by Air Canada or a Star Alliance partner. They are:

  • American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card
  • American Express AeroplanPlus Corporate Platinum Card
  • American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card

As mentioned, other credit cards also allot one-time access passes to the MLL.

Airline Ticket

As Air Canada is a member of Star Alliance, any passengers travelling in Air Canada Business Class, a Star Alliance carrier in Business Class, or a Star Alliance carrier in First Class is eligible for access. Business class passengers are not permitted any guests, while First Class passengers are permitted one.

Lounge Membership

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge do not participate in third-party lounge programs, such as Priority Pass, Dragonpass, or Lounge Club. However, Air Canada offers their own lounge membership program, akin to the United Club Program or Delta Sky Club Programs. There are three options:

  • Domestic - Providing access to Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada

  • North America Plus - Includes the lounges available in the Domestic Program as well as United Clubs in the US

  • Worldwide - includes all lounges available with the North America Plus option as well as all Air Canada contracted international lounges.

Contact Information

You can contact Aeroplan or Air Canada both on Social Media, by mail, and on the phone.

Aeroplan:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Air Canada:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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