Air Canada is following Delta and United Airlines, by offering to extend its elite membership of its loyalty programme – Altitude – through to the end of 2021. … with a few interesting wrinkles on the way.
As well as extending the elite status, Air Canada is also wanting you to share that status with a friend or family member. This is a major play by the airline, as it seeks to scoop up more passengers when the recovery comes.
The changes, In bullet points:
- Automatic extension of 2020 Altitude status – All Altitude status for 2020 will automatically be extended through to the end of 2021. If you reach a higher status before the end of this 2020, they will enjoy it upon qualification, and maintain it through 2021 as well.
- Temporary pause to the expiration of Aeroplan Miles – The airline has paused expiry until May 14, 2020. This means that until May 14, any Aeroplan Miles which would have expired will not. Effective 15 May, the normal expiration policy will once again apply, meaning that miles will expire if an eligible transaction has not been completed prior to this date.
- Cancel any Flight Reward free of charge – Until April 30, all members can cancel any Flight Reward free of charge and receive all of their Aeroplan Miles back in their account, plus a full refund of any associated taxes, fees and surcharges on the unused value of their travel. This is available for flight itineraries departing any date in the future.
- Share Altitude status with friends and family – If a member has already achieved status for next year, or does so by the end of 2020, they can gift it to a friend or family member.
- Earn Elite Status and Aeroplan miles from home – You can earn Aeroplan miles from home through the normal methods. Until 30th April, for every five Aeroplan Miles a member donates to a charity engaged in fighting the COVID-19 crisis, they will receive one Altitude Qualifying Mile – up to a maximum of 25,000 AQM – all of which count towards 2021 status for the member, and a loved one.
The full changes are loaded at https://www.aeroplan.com/covid-19.do#/
Mark Nasr, Vice President, Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada.
“Loyalty is a two-way street – certainly in good times, but especially so in hard times. Altitude members have shown outstanding commitment to Air Canada, and to provide some certainty during these uncertain times, we are extending members’ current Altitude status to the end of 2021. We’re also making it easier to share status with a loved one, and earn both status and Aeroplan miles from home.”
“The entire Air Canada team is looking forward to welcoming all customers back in the skies when the time is right.”
Opinion: Making a future play
In theory, Air Canada is giving away loyalty status, by allowing its members to gift status to another person as needed and hoping those people will use their new-found status to travel when this is all over. It allows the airline also to swell its loyalty ranks at this time.
An interesting play, as the giving away of an elite loyalty membership, is normally reserved for a top-member of a programme.
The added bonus of donating miles for elite membership points could also be useful for those members with expiring miles.
As for other airlines around the world, they’ll be nervously watching as they work out how to handle their elite frequent flyers. So far… it has been patchy so far, with some airlines giving cuts through to some giving 12-month extensions.
The reaction amongst the industry will be one to watch.
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