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Air Canada eUpgrade program (October 2020 onwards) [read wiki BEFORE asking question]

Air Canada eUpgrade program (October 2020 onwards) [read wiki BEFORE asking question]

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Old Sep 27, 22, 4:19 pm   -   Wikipost
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Q: What is an eUpgrade?
A: eUpgrades (sometimes referred to as eUps) are a benefit of elite status with AC that allow elites to upgrade to a higher cabin (business class / Signature class, a.k.a. J, or premium economy, a.k.a. PY or PE).

Q: Are eUps automatic, like on Delta/AA/United?
A: No, you have to request one online or with a phone agent. You have to have sufficient eUpgrade credits, with an expiry date at least equal to the date of your flight, to make the request. If you dont request an eUp, AC has no problem letting you sit in your original cabin, even if it means letting seats in J/PY go out empty.

Q: How many eUpgrade credits do I need for my flight?
A: Here's the official eUp chart (last updated by AC on Oct 2 2020; current as of at least July 2022)

Q: When can I request an eUpgrade?
A: You can request an upgrade as soon as you book the flight with the exception of the travel companion benefit (person on same flight but not on same PNR; see below for details). Travel companion eUpgrade requests need to be made by airport staff after the flight opens for check-in.

Q: When can I confirm (or "clear") my eUpgrade?
A: You have to be within the "clearance window" that applies to your status and fare type. The windows are detailed in the AC eUp requirements document.

Q: Can you be more specific?
A1, for flexible fares (Latitude and Premium Economy Flexible): You can confirm an eUpgrade immediately after booking, SUBJECT TO UPGRADE SPACE BEING AVAILABLE.
A2, for non-flexible fares (Standard, Flex, Comfort, Premium Economy Lowest): You have to be within the clearance window in the document linked above, which ranges from 3-14 days, depending on fare brand, route, and status.
Exception: if you have no status, you can only clear an upgrade on a flexible fare 3 days in advance, and on a non-flexible fare cannot clear before the gate

Q: The AC website tells me whether my upgrade request will be confirmed or waitlisted. Is it reliable?
A:
No. The website may tell you youll be waitlisted, when in fact your upgrade will be confirmed right away. Or it may say theres space available even though youll be waitlisted. This is true of both the upgrade availability displayed during the booking flow as well as the eUpgrade website. The only exception being that if youre outside your clearance window, the website should pretty reliably tell you that youll be waitlisted.

Q: I see a lot of people talking about "R space" or "R0", what does that mean?
A:
In short, R is the fare bucket Air Canada uses to make eUpgrade space available. If R is greater than zero, there are eUp spaces still available. If R = 0, then anyone who's requested an eUp will be waitlisted.

Q: I only want to upgrade to Premium Economy?
A:
Replace "R" with "N".

Q: Im waitlisted on a flight thats R0. Will AC release more R space before the flight? Do I have to wait until the flight to find out whether Im upgraded?
A:
AC might release more R space tomorrow (or clear your upgrade without creating any R space). Or they might never clear any more upgrades on that flight. If youre still waitlisted, your upgrade may clear at the gate.

Q: What does at the gate mean?
A:
The upgrade list is typically processed 5 minutes after check-in for the flight closes. Check-in generally closes 45 minutes before domestic flights and 1 hour before international flights, meaning the upgrade list gets run at T-40 or T-55, as applicable. Even if your upgrade doesnt clear at that point, its theoretically possible to still be upgraded, if someone else in the cabin doesnt show up, although once you board, its unlikely an agent will come on and upgrade you even if a spot did open up see this thread.

Q: How can I find the R space for my flight?
A:
Using a paid service like ExpertFlyer. If you ask nicely and don't overdo it, many FTers with EF accounts will help you in the Official Fare Bucket Check Request Thread.

Q: So, WHEN should I check for R space for my flight?
A:
This depends on both your status, and what kind of fare you have, so please read and keep in mind the confirmation windows mentioned above.
But if you have (or are about to purchase) a flexible fare (Latitude and Premium Economy Flexible), then by all means check nowsince your upgrade could also clear immediately. If your plans are flexible, this can be a useful strategy to help find specific flights that could clear immediately well before the normal confirmation windows.

If you dont have one of the flexible fares mentioned, R space viewed on something like ExpertFlyer is only useful when you get close to your confirmation window. Checking before that is probably a waste of time.

Q: I heard a rumour that paid Latitude fares can eUp even when R=0. Is this true?
A:
Sometimes; it's complicated. Senior execs at Aeroplan have said that in some cases a Latitude or PE Flex cash fare might clear an eUp even when R=0, but they've also been very clear that they will not be releasing the exact method by which this is determined, and that the same thing is less-often true for award Latitude / PE Flex. In other words, it may happen but don't assume it.

Q: My flight shows R=1 (or more), and I'm within my window, but my upgrade has not cleared.
Answer depends on how close you are to the flight.
  • Within 36 hours of departure Your upgrade can't clear until the gate.
  • More than 36 hours from departure: Cancelling the request and then requesting again may solve it. Or you may be able to solve it by phoning in. Or you may not, because it's AC.

Q: What are my chances of clearing an eUp for [FLIGHT] on [DATE] if I have [STATUS]?
A:
All we can do is make an educated guess. Lots of business travel gets booked last minute, or pilots need to reposition, or any of a dozen other things that might turn J9 into J0 just before departure.

Q: But the seat map shows [x] seats occupied. Surely that means my odds are [good][bad]?
A: STOP LOOKING AT THE SEAT MAP. STOP LOOKING AT THE SEAT MAP. STOP LOOKING AT THE SEAT MAP.

Seriously, stop looking at the seat map. The seat map is not an accurate guide to the number of seats available in the cabin. Many people do not select their seats when booking, which can mean more seats have been sold than show as occupied on the seat map. On the other hand, due to IT glitches, seats are sometimes shown as blocked when there are waitlisted eUps or staff members on passes (see this thread for details). So the seat map may show more seats available than there truly are, or fewer. Or it may be correct. Theres no way to know for sure.

So stop looking at the seat map.

Q: I see people talking about "Aerolotto", what is that? Can I bet eUps?
A:
Aerolotto is a slang term for waiting at the gate to see if your eUp clears, or you're stuck in the original seat you paid for.

Q: Im booked in economy on an aircraft with both PY and J cabins. Can I request an upgrade to both?
A:
No, you can only request an upgrade to one cabin.

Q: Can I confirm an upgrade to PY, then request an upgrade to J?
A:
Nope. Once you confirm a PY upgrade, thats it.

Q: If I dont clear my upgrade to J, can I get upgraded to PY?
A:
Yes, if your upgrade doesnt clear until the gate, you will be on the list for both J and PY.

Q: When do eUps expire?
A:
If earned before July 1 of a calendar year, they will expire January 16 of the following year. After that, they will expire January 16 of the year after that. For example, an eUp earned on June 10, 2022 would expire on January 16, 2023. An eUp earned on July 3, 2022 would expire on January 16, 2024.

Q: I want to use my eUp credits to upgrade somebody else. Is this possible?
Are they on the same booking (PNR) as you?
  • Yes: You can upgrade a maximum of two passengers on a booking. If the booking has more than two passengers, you can't request an upgrade for any of them, before the day of travel. You can split the booking so that it has at most two passengers, then upgrade it, although splitting bookings can come with other negative consequences.
  • No, but theyre on the same flight: You can request the upgrade at the airport on the day of travel; AC refers to this as upgrading a "travel companion".
  • No, and theyre not on the same flight: No, unless youre Super Elite. If youre Super Elite, you can designate a nominee, and you can upgrade this person on any flight theyre on. Your nominee selection stays in effect until the end of the status year, and you only get one per status year. You cannot upgrade anyone else on your nominee's PNR.

Q: What's the maximum number of people I can upgrade on a flight
Are you Super Elite?
  • No: 3 (yourself + one person on the same PNR + travel companion)
  • Yes: 4 (yourself + one person on the same PNR + travel companion + nominee)
Q: If I request an eUp and it doesn't clear, I don't lose the credits or the co-pay, right?
A:
Correct. You're only charged if you get upgraded.

Q: I want to upgrade my flight on date X, but all my eUps expire on date Y, where Y < X. Can I upgrade?
A: NO. To eUp any flight, at any time, you need to have credits that are still valid on the date of the flight.

Q: Can I use eUps on partner flights?
A:
No, only on flights operated by aircraft with "Air Canada" written on the outside.

Q: Can I use eUps if I credit my mileage on an Air Canada flight to another airline?
A:
To request an eUpgrade, your Aeroplan number has to be on the file. Crediting to another FFP requires changing your Aeroplan number after check-in.

Q: Can I use eUps on an Air Canada operated flight that was booked through a partner?
Answer depends on what type of booking you have made.
  • Revenue tickets (i.e. not points): Yes, but with some complexity as to when and how you can request the upgrade.
    Is your AC flight a codeshare (a flight marketed by the other airline but operated by AC, e.g. marketed as UA5678, operated by AC as AC1234)?
    • No: you should be able to request it as usual via the eUp site
    • Yes: you can eUpgrade that -- but not before the day of the flight. You may only request an upgrade with an Air Canada agent at the airport, or at the departure gate on your day of travel.
  • Points tickets (United MileagePlus, Avianca Lifemiles, etc): No. These tickets cannot be upgraded.

Q: Are eUps guaranteed once they're confirmed?
A:
Not quite. For example, you won't get bumped out of an eUp just because somebody with higher status requested one after yours was confirmed. However, in very rare circumstances, such as if your plane gets swapped for one with a smaller business cabin, you might lose your eUp.

Q: What is the priority for upgrades?
A:
Upgrade priority at the gate, as written by canadiancow:
  1. Cabin: If you're in PY, you're ahead of everyone in Y
  2. Status: SE 2MM+ with credit card > SE 2MM+ > SE MM with credit card > SE MM > SE with credit card > SE > 75K 2MM+ with credit card, etc. If two passengers are on the PNR, the priority might be based on the highest status, regardless of who requested the upgrade, per this post
  3. "Fare": Brand comes first (PF > PL; LT > CO > FL > ST), so a low Comfort fare is higher priority than Flex M. Within a brand, fare class matters. If you bought your ticket through another airline, and you don't have a brand, they infer a brand based on the fare class.
    Fare class hierarchy:
    • PY fares: O > E > N > A
    • Y fares: Y > B > M > U > H > Q > V > W > S > T > L > K > G
  4. Check-in time: As indicated by your sequence number

Upgrade priority prior to the gate is similar, with possible exceptions for full-fare (Latitude / Premium Economy Flexible) bookings. In the old system, a 25K on a Latitude fare would be ahead of a SE on a Premium Economy Lowest fare prior to the gate. Time of upgrade request replaces check-in time.
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Old Oct 2, 20, 9:45 pm
  #31  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: YOW
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
"Behaves like Flex" ?

X is lower than Standard.
Yes, I'm aware of where X falls in the fare chart, but for example, a 50K flying an X-fare receives free Preferred seating, which they get on a Flex fare but do not get on Standard. Similarly, a 35K gets discounted Preferred seats on an X-fare that they don't get on Standard. In practice, an X-fare is a Standard cake with Flex frosting.

Without getting lost in the minutiae of that, the larger question is, AC just published an eUp chart that splits Economy awards into Standard, Flex etc, with different eUp values for each. Given that there are an awful lot of existing Economy award tickets booked into an X-fare that's separate from both, and has characteristics of each, I'm curious how the new system will handle eUps on existing X-fares.

For example, on Oct 6th am I going to be able to eUp my flight on the 13th, or will existing X-tickets be ineligible for the new rules, or...

As usual, AC's doing a solid B- job of explaining their rules.
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Old Oct 4, 20, 12:59 pm
  #32  
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Right at T-21, J changed from "Waitlisted" to "Available", but I'm still getting the booking window error.

So it seems like the backend is now actually enforcing 14 days, but the front-end is suggesting otherwise.

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Old Oct 6, 20, 5:50 am
  #33  
 
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Originally Posted by cooleddie View Post
  • Simplified eUpgrade Request Process Beginning October 6, members or their travel agents can request upgrades when they book, or any time prior to check-in at aircanada.com or with Air Canada Reservations.
  • Simplified eUpgrade Requirements Beginning today, all Air Canada fare options will be eligible for eUpgrades, with the exception of Economy Basic fares. Plus, members will be able to upgrade all Aeroplan flight rewards.


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Old Oct 6, 20, 10:24 am
  #34  
 
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Worked for me on a terribly unexciting YYC-YVR Oct 31st. 99 eUp credit balance with no further flights booked.

Edit: I spoke too soon. It showed available for upgrade when I used the eUps, but now it claims I am waitlisted.

Last edited by nomadic.relief; Oct 6, 20 at 10:32 am
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Old Oct 6, 20, 10:46 am
  #35  
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Originally Posted by nomadic.relief View Post
Worked for me on a terribly unexciting YYC-YVR Oct 31st. 99 eUp credit balance with no further flights booked.

Edit: I spoke too soon. It showed available for upgrade when I used the eUps, but now it claims I am waitlisted.
Because you can't be confirmed until 12 days before departure as E75K.

I agree the wording could use some tweaking, but "available" means "there's R space". The same thing happens in the booking flow.

Everything works as expected for me. It adds a new segment in HN status, which will presumably become HK if there's still R space when you enter the clearance window, or HL if not.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 11:06 am
  #36  
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YOWgary perchance are you in OYB class?

I had them cancel my North American segments so I could pay 17 instead of 2+17, and I cannot upgrade the B-class flights.



However I do have another booking that works.

Edit: It now seems to be using the actual fare basis to determine the clearance window, rather than just fare class. I cannot confirm any of my B class segments on PY fares, and they agent I spoke with seemed extremely knowledgeable (rules changed today, this isn't a Latitude fare, it's Premium Economy Lowest). So that loophole may be gone. Not that I'm concerned about clearing SFO-YVR at T-14 as an SM in B class.

Or it could be a bug.

Last edited by canadiancow; Oct 6, 20 at 11:21 am
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Old Oct 6, 20, 12:32 pm
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
Right at T-21, J changed from "Waitlisted" to "Available", but I'm still getting the booking window error.

So it seems like the backend is now actually enforcing 14 days, but the front-end is suggesting otherwise.

They system seems to have updated.

I was trying to request eUp since the email came out, getting the same error message as you until today.
I am still outside of my peasant 25 status booking window but I have now "successfully" request to be waitlisted, whatever the terminology is.

In my booking, it's now showing me that I'm "Waitlisted for Business Class"" under my seat selection.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 12:41 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
YOWgary perchance are you in OYB class?
No, the aforementioned X-fare.

Best guess is that they wrote the new rules about upgrading from Standard or Flex award space, and it never occurred to anyone that existing award tickets won't just automatically match into those buckets.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 12:50 pm
  #39  
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Originally Posted by YOWgary View Post
No, the aforementioned X-fare.

Best guess is that they wrote the new rules about upgrading from Standard or Flex award space, and it never occurred to anyone that existing award tickets won't just automatically match into those buckets.
Ehhhh there are enough issues right now that I suspect there's something more general.

I had two bookings that were BNNB. One let me upgrade the whole thing, the other only let me upgrade the N segments.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 1:48 pm
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
Ehhhh there are enough issues right now that I suspect there's something more general.

I had two bookings that were BNNB. One let me upgrade the whole thing, the other only let me upgrade the N segments.
Spoke to a phone agent and a concierge, because I'm on a six-hour layover with some time to kill.

"Oh, yeah, October 6th doesn't actually mean October 6th. They opened up the windows today, but you definitely still can't upgrade award seats at all, till Nov 8."

...presumably that'll be why they ended the eUp promo two days ago. So, I'll sit in the bulkhead row of economy, looking at a PE cabin with 23 empty seats out of 24, and use those eUps later in the year when they'll cost AC more.

AC never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 1:54 pm
  #41  
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Originally Posted by YOWgary View Post
"Oh, yeah, October 6th doesn't actually mean October 6th. They opened up the windows today, but you definitely still can't upgrade award seats at all, till Nov 8."
What does "still" mean in this context. Like you couldn't a day ago, and you still can't? Because it was certainly possible a month ago. And they didn't open any "windows" today. The only place the word "window" is used (clearance window) hasn't changed at all.

The agents don't seem to be fully up to speed. Not that they ever were. One was confident my YVR-HKG was going to be confirmed immediately (fine, it does look that way, I get the confusion). Another was confused how I had upgraded a Latitude flight 3 months out (that's always been possible).

So I'm not sure I'd trust everything (anything?) they say, especially as long as the system is broken to the point of not always allowing upgrade requests from B class.

I generally view agent statements as a possible explanation, but unless I have independently confirmed it, I do not trust it.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 2:21 pm
  #42  
 
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
What does "still" mean in this context. Like you couldn't a day ago, and you still can't? Because it was certainly possible a month ago. And they didn't open any "windows" today. The only place the word "window" is used (clearance window) hasn't changed at all.
Upgrading an X fare was possible the day before yesterday, then beginning yesterday, it wasn't.

Then AC put out a press release stating very clearly that as of Oct 6, award tickets would be E-upgradeable, but now it's Oct. 6 and both the Elite Line agent and the YVR Concierge confirm that official internal policy is that no award seat will be E-upgradeable again until Nov. 8.


Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
I generally view agent statements as a possible explanation, but unless I have independently confirmed it, I do not trust it.
I agree, but when the system can't do X, and two senior-tier agents confirm that this is policy - regardless of whether it directly contradicts what's been published - then it's hard to know what level of confirmation is going to confirm this with any more confidence.


EDIT, 30 minutes later: this shouldn't really come as any kind of surprise...



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Last edited by YOWgary; Oct 6, 20 at 2:54 pm
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Old Oct 6, 20, 3:00 pm
  #43  
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Originally Posted by YOWgary View Post
Upgrading an X fare was possible the day before yesterday, then beginning yesterday, it wasn't.

Then AC put out a press release stating very clearly that as of Oct 6, award tickets would be E-upgradeable, but now it's Oct. 6 and both the Elite Line agent and the YVR Concierge confirm that official internal policy is that no award seat will be E-upgradeable again until Nov. 8.

I agree, but when the system can't do X, and two senior-tier agents confirm that this is policy - regardless of whether it directly contradicts what's been published - then it's hard to know what level of confirmation is going to confirm this with any more confidence.

EDIT, 30 minutes later: this shouldn't really come as any kind of surprise...
I don't want to say I told you so, but...

Front-line agents get their information from somewhere. Sometimes that source is wrong, which leads to even more issues because every agent confirms the inaccurate info.

Now I wonder if I should cancel my request for my booking that needed a phone call, so I can try again. But I'm not in the mood for another eUp call.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 3:30 pm
  #44  
 
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The other useful takeaway here is that it appears the new rules consider an X-fare Aeroplan award to be a Standard fare, regardless of any Flex-ible features it may have.
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Old Oct 6, 20, 3:34 pm
  #45  
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
Edit: It now seems to be using the actual fare basis to determine the clearance window, rather than just fare class. I cannot confirm any of my B class segments on PY fares, and they agent I spoke with seemed extremely knowledgeable (rules changed today, this isn't a Latitude fare, it's Premium Economy Lowest). So that loophole may be gone. Not that I'm concerned about clearing SFO-YVR at T-14 as an SM in B class.

Or it could be a bug.
If it's indeed a new policy, it would be a major devaluation for many longhaul travellers!

The ability to confirm the transcon / NA upgrade at time of booking was a solid incentive to pay the premium for PE vs. Flex.
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