Air Canada eUpgrade credits might be confusing to use but, as I found on a recent booking, there’s serious value to unlock.
If you’re a loyal Aeroplan credit card user, chances are you have achieved Elite status over the years. If you are like me, you might have noticed little benefit and disregarded the email notifications. Aside from slightly lower redemption options, I didn’t pay much attention to my status, until now.
With Air Canada‘s revamp of the Aeroplan system came a sliding scale on point redemptions for flights within North America. This means the points required go up with demand. The result are tickets that are now triple the minimum points or more! As such, Air Canada eUpgrade credits have some serious value.
What Are Air Canada eUpgrade Credits?
Air Canada eUpgrades credits are currency travelers can use to upgrade their cash fare or Aeroplan point redeemed flights to premium economy or business class. Simple right? Not really. Air Canada makes it more than a little confusing to use them.
How Do You Get Air Canada eUpgrade Credits?
To collect Air Canada eUpgrade credits you need to hold Air Canada Elite status. You can become an Elite status member in one of three ways;
- Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) – Distance flown;
- Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) – Segments travelled;
- Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) – How much you spend on Air Canada flights or on Aeroplan credit cards.
Now if you don’t fly a ton (and you probably haven’t in the last couple years), SQD is the easiest way to qualify. Again, this is done by simply using your Aeroplan credit card on day-to-day purchases. That said, 2022 and beyond, Air Canada will require you to meet SQM or SQS minimums plus a lower SQD.
To make things more confusing, there are various levels of Elite status. For a full breakdown on each levels benefit, see here. In short, the main differences are baggage allowance and priority, number of lounge vouchers you get, and most importantly, the number of eUpgrade credits earned.
Where are the Air Canada eUpgrade Credits Located?
So, now that you have achieved Elite status, where do you find those eUpgrade credits?
Using a web browser, navigate to your Air Canada profile and click on “eUpgrade.” There you will find your total credits along with transaction history and expiry dates. On the Air Canada app, click on the Aeroplan button on the bottom right then scroll down to “eUpgrade Credits.”
Do Air Canada eUpgrade Credits Expire?
Yes! Air Canada eUpgrade credits are typically valid till the end of February which is the end of Air Canada’s promotional calendar. This is even more motivation to use them.
That said, through the pandemic, Air Canada has carried Elite status forward so you may notice you have more credits than expected. Also, having certain Aeroplan premium credit cards allow you to carry some credits forward each year. To confirm your eUpgrade credit expiry dates, click on “My Credit History” under the eUpgrade section in your Air Canada account.
For Air Canada’s full policy on eUpgrades, check out this link.
How Do I Use Air Canada eUpgrade Credits?
eUpgrade credits can be used on available Air Canada operated flights you have booked. That said, it’s best to check availability before booking. To do so, use a web browser when searching flights and click on display options. From there, select “eUpgrades.” This will now display if upgrades are available or waitlisted.
Note: Waitlist priority factors include Elite status level and status of ticket booked.
Using eUpgrdae Credits on Cash Fare
To me, the value of using eUpgrade credits on cash fares comes down to the ticket price and points required. With Air Canada’s dynamic points scale, point redemption has skyrocketed depending on demand. Unfortunately, so do ticket prices. Either way, using eUpgrade credits to get a business class seat is better than paying the extra cash or points.
If we take an example flight between YYZ and YVR a couple months in the future you can see that the lowest ticket price is $196. Turning on display options reveals that eUpgrade is available.
Once you select Economy you can see what an eUpgrade would cost you for each class of ticket. This is where you need to weight some options.
As you can see, upgrading on the lowest fare would cost you 11 eUpgade credits and an additional $250. Still a huge savings over the business class ticket price of $1,664 but you will notice that if you pay for the “Comfort” ticket at $252, there is no additional cash required to process your eUpgrade, saving you $196 and one credit.
Using eUpgrdae Credits on Aeroplan Tickets
Using the same flight as an example on points, you can see that an economy ticket costs you just 7.8K points versus a whopping 97.6K points in business class. This means there is incredible value in using eUpgrades over booking in business class outright.
Further breaking down the economy class ticket, again, the lowest fare option requires an additional 7K points to remove the upgrade fee of $250. At 14.4K total, it is still a better deal than booking 97.6K outright for business class.
eUpgrade Clearance Window
One factor to highlight is eUpgrades to require a clearance window. Time is dependent on your class of ticket as per the chart below:
As you can see, an Aeroplan Elite 25K member won’t find out if their upgrade has been processed until 4 days out. This means that if between the time of booking and clearance window you could miss out on upgrade if availability changes. If you have the lowest Elite status and lowest ticket fare you are at risk of being bumped. The trick around this is to book a Latitude ticket which has no clearance window. You will pay more points or cash however you will instantly secure your upgraded seat.
Air Canada eUpgrade Case Study
While searching for point redemption options to Toronto from Vancouver, business class seats were going for upwards of 100K points at the time of booking. Under the old chart rules, this would’ve been fixed at 25K points. Also, for value example, my upcoming Africa trip with multiple stops is 100K each way in business class.
YVR-YYZ – Waitlist Approach
On the outbound flight I booked a premium economy ticket using points because the eUpgrade option was waitlisted. This meant I would get priority for upgrade but, worst case, travel in premium economy. On top of that, there is no additional cost to upgrade. At 57K points, almost half what a straight up business class ticket would cost, this was a great deal. Minutes before boarding I got confirmation that my upgrade went through.
YYZ-YVR – Instant Upgrade Approach
Because my return flight was further out, I had a few more options. Just like my outbound flight, my return was in a Boing 787-9 with a lay flat seats, this time with eUpgrade options available. Redemption in economy was just 10K points however that required an additional $250 plus one credit. Although $250 is not that much to shell out for business class, I still preferred to use my points and pay nothing out-of-pocket. I opted to use more points and book Latitude fare for an additional 11K points. Although double the points of the original ticket, this got me instant upgrade clearance and shortly after purchase I was able to select my business class seat. No stress.
With Air Canada‘s new dynamic scale for flights within North America, eUpgrade credits are a great way to bring down those higher than expected point redemption levels. With a use-them-or-lose-them approach, it’s also a no or low risk way to get you in that business class seat.
Hopefully this post opens your eyes to the possibilities of using your Air Canada eUpgrade credits. They certainly don’t make it easy to use them or understand their value, but hey, that’s where I come in. 😉
What say you?
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