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Qualifying for Aeroplan Elite Status - overview/FAQ

Qualifying for Aeroplan Elite Status - overview/FAQ

Old Jan 1, 22, 12:27 am
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Qualifying for Aeroplan Elite Status - overview/FAQ

Since there's not really a place to cover the basics of earning status with AC and some of the ensuing questions, I thought I would create one.

How can I qualify for elite status on AC?

There are three ways to qualify for status:
  • Earn a sufficient number of SQM/SQS/SQD (sometimes collectively referred to as SQx on FT) to qualify for status
  • Achieve Everyday Status Qualification, which requires only earning 100K qualifying Aeroplan points in a calendar year to earn 25K status
  • Through the Chase Aeroplan credit card, which:
    • Grants 25K status for the year in which its first obtained, and the following year; after that, 25K status can be maintained by spending US$15K on the card in a calendar year
    • Allows you to boost your status one level by spending US$50K on the card in a calendar year

For further questions on Everyday Status Qualification or the Chase cards, please see the threads dedicated to those topics, which are linked above.


What are the levels of status?

The Aeroplan Elite program has five levels of status:
  • 25K
  • 35K
  • 50K
  • 75K
  • Super Elite

Before the late-2020 revamp of the Aeroplan program, the 25K level was formerly known as Prestige 25K, the three middle tiers were known as Elite 35K / Elite 50K / Elite 75K, and Super Elite was Super Elite 100K. You may see the terms P25K, E35K, E50K, E75K, and SE100K on FT as references to the former branding (sometimes minus the K, e.g. P25).

Air Canada also operates an unpublished VIP program. Unlike UA GS, AA CK, and DL 360, it is not possible to qualify for VIP through flying. ACs VIP program is targeted at a different audience that would not normally qualify for a high level of status through their own level of flying. For example, they might award VIP status to the CEO of a large corporation that buys a lot of travel from AC. Those curious about the VIP program can visit that thread; no discussion of the VIP program will be permitted in this thread.


What are the qualification requirements?

For the level you want to qualify for, it is necessary to the requirements for:
  • SQM OR SQS; and
  • SQD

The requirements are:
  • 25K: 25,000 SQM / 25 SQS / 3,000 SQD
  • 35K: 35,000 SQM / 35 SQS / 4,000 SQD
  • 50K: 50,000 SQM / 50 SQS / 6,000 SQD
  • 75K: 75,000 SQM / 75 SQS / 9,000 SQD
  • Super Elite: 100,000 SQM / 100 SQS / 20,000 SQD

Beginning in 2022, all members must meet the SQD requirements. (Prior to 2022, non-residents only had to achieve 50% of the SQD requirements).


What are SQM, SQS, and SQD, and how do I earn them?

SQM are Status Qualifying Miles. You earn them by taking flights with AC or Star Alliance airline partners. They can also be earned by spending money on certain Aeroplan credit cards.

For flights, SQM are equal to approximately the distance between the two airports, multiplied by the earning rate for the fare type purchased. For example, Aeroplan calculates the distance from YYC to YYZ as 1,669 miles. A flight in Flex would earn 100% miles, i.e. 1,669 SQM. A flight in Standard would earn 25% miles, i.e. 417 SQM.

Certain credit cards award 1,000 SQM for each $10,000 (Core credit cards) or $5,000 spent (Premium credit cards).

Premium credit cards allow you to roll over up to 200K SQM over the level you qualified for in the previous year. For instance, if you flew 56,700 SQM and qualified for 50K status, you would roll over 6,700 SQM to the following year. Please see this thread for more information about the rollover benefit.

SQS are Status Qualifying Segments. You earn them by taking flights with AC or Star Alliance airline partners. They can also be earned by spending money on certain Aeroplan credit cards.

Each qualifying flight earns 1 SQS; there are no multipliers.

Certain credit cards award 1 SQS for each $10,000 (Core credit cards) or $5,000 spent (Premium credit cards).

There is no SQS rollover.

SQD are Status Qualifying Dollars. These are equal to the base fare plus carrier-imposed surcharges for the ticket. Or you can think of SQD as the total amount paid for the ticket minus taxes and 3rd party surcharges (e.g. airport improvement fees). On receipts from AC, the amount listed as Air Transportation Charges will equal the total SQD for the ticket.

On itineraries with more than one segment, SQD are allocated across the segments based on distance, regardless of what you paid for each segment. For example, if you purchase a YYC-YYZ round trip, each segment (YYC-YYZ and YYZ-YYC) will earn 50% of the SQD, even if you paid different amounts for the two segments. Lets say you paid $300 for YYC-YYZ and $500 for YYZ-YYC (excluding GST, AIFs, etc). The total SQD would be 800, and each segment would earn 400 SQD.

SQD are earned only from flying (one-time promotions aside). Only flights themselves, eUpgrade add-ons, and unlimited flight pass monthly payments qualify. Fees for extra services (e.g. baggage fees, seat selection, on-board purchases, etc) do not count towards SQD.

There is no SQD rollover.


Do all flights qualify for SQx?

No. Many flights do not earn SQx.

Basic Economy fares on AC earn no SQx, although they do earn Aeroplan points.

Points tickets redeemed from Aeroplan or a Star Alliance partner airline do not qualify, even if paying with a mix of cash and points. Points redeemed from 3rd party loyalty programs (e.g. Air Miles, RBC Avion) have a mixed track record.

Certain fares are also ineligible, e.g. consolidator fares, K fares on Lufthansa. If the fare class is not listed on the AC website, it is not eligible for accumulation.

In recent years, AC has added a number of non-Star Alliance partners. Flights on most of these partners only earn Aeroplan points (i.e. no SQx), and some only earn Aeroplan points on certain routes (e.g. Cathay Pacific).

SQD can only be earned on:
  • Flights operated by AC
  • Flights operated by *A partners, ticketed by AC

To illustrate, lets use an itinerary consisting of (i) YYC-EWR, operated by AC, and (ii) EWR-CHS, operated by UA. If this itinerary were purchased from AC, both flights would earn SQD. If purchased from UA, only the YYC-EWR flight would earn SQD.


How do I know how many SQx Ill earn for a given itinerary?

AC doesnt tell you when you book a ticket, but its relatively simple to calculate. The AC website lists all partners, eligible fares, and accumulation rates.

To make life easier, some FTers have built a tool to calculate SQM/SQD earnings, discussed in this thread: Calculator for SQM, Aeroplan miles, & SQD

Important caveat for flights involving partners: miles earned always depends on the operating carrier. This is the airline whose aircraft you are sitting on when you fly. Sticking to the YYC-EWR-CHS example from above, you would earn miles according to the AC accumulation chart for YYC-EWR, and according to the UA chart for EWR-CHS, regardless of which airline sold the ticket and whether the flight is a codeshare.

This can create confusion in several ways:
  • During the booking flow on the AC website, AC displays only the earning rates for AC flights. You may buy a Flex fare thinking you will earn 100% miles, only to find out that on a partner flight you were booked in a fare class that earned less. For instance, if you buy a business class fare involving an intra-Europe flight on Lufthansa in a P fare, the website will show that you'll earn 150% miles, but you will earn only 50% on the Lufthansa leg
  • When booking codeshares, it may be impossible to know the operating carrier's fare class. For instance, the AC website may sell you UA's EWR-CHS flight as "AC5678" and show you an M fare when you select Flex. But you may actually be actually be booked on a UA Q fare and only earn 75% miles
  • When booking AC flights through a partner airline, you may not know the fare brand (Flex, Latitude, etc). United might show you an H fare on YYC-EWR, but this could map to Flex, Standard, or Comfort, and your earning would be impacted accordingly


What are Premium and Core credit cards?

Premium cards are the highest tier Aeroplan credit cards that have an annual fee of around $600 Amex Reserve cards or Visa Infinite Privilege cards from TD or CIBC.

Core cards are mid-tier Aeroplan credit cards with an annual fee of around $120 Visa Infinite from CIBC or TD, the Chase card, or Amexs basic card.

Last edited by Adam Smith; Aug 31, 22 at 10:53 am
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Old Jan 8, 22, 12:52 pm
  #2  
 
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I am looking at one of the tickets (not flown yet):

Air transportation charges 847.99 Taxes, fees and charges 119.71 GRAND TOTAL (Canadian dollars) $967.70

Super newbie, I am trying to estimate my SQD for 2022 and I do not know if the base fare is total paid price minus taxes ($847) or if there is anything else I have to substract to find out the SQD. The ticket is PY so there are not other charges like luggage, seat etc.

Last edited by hita45; Jan 8, 22 at 1:13 pm
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Old Jan 8, 22, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by hita45 View Post
Super newbie, I am trying to estimate my SQD for 2022 and I do not know if the base fare is total paid price minus taxes ($847) or if there is anything else I have to substract to find out the SQD.
I believe your question should be answered by the FAQ I've put together above.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 4:03 pm
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Adam Smith I have not flown on a UA connection for a while. Does AC still frequently shortchange people on AQM when they buy a Flex fare expecting to earn 100% AQM on the UA (or other partner) segment only to find out that AC has put them into a fare bucket that only earns 50%? If that's still a problem, it might be worth noting as a caveat in this thread.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 4:13 pm
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This is really helpful and, as you point out, a strange omission in the forum. Well done!

A brief suggestion: I wonder if you would save some hassle later on if early in the FAQ you distinguish between Aeroplan as a flight rewards program and Aeroplan Elite as a frequent flyer program (or whatever the appropriate terms would be). Many people are confused by the shared terminology.

Finally, in this sentence did you mean to use both miles and points? Flights on most of these partners only earn Aeroplan miles (i.e. no SQx), and some only earn Aeroplan points on certain routes (e.g. Cathay Pacific).
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Old Jan 8, 22, 4:34 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by The Lev View Post
Adam Smith I have not flown on a UA connection for a while. Does AC still frequently shortchange people on AQM when they buy a Flex fare expecting to earn 100% AQM on the UA (or other partner) segment only to find out that AC has put them into a fare bucket that only earns 50%? If that's still a problem, it might be worth noting as a caveat in this thread.
Yes, good point. I'll add something to clarify.

Originally Posted by TheCanuckian View Post
A brief suggestion: I wonder if you would save some hassle later on if early in the FAQ you distinguish between Aeroplan as a flight rewards program and Aeroplan Elite as a frequent flyer program (or whatever the appropriate terms would be). Many people are confused by the shared terminology.
You may have a point. I'm not sure there's as much confusion since the new program launched and AC killed Altitude, but if you have a thought on what could be useful, please post it and I can update the OP.

I decided not to put this in a wiki since a lot of people in the forum organization thread said they don't like wikis, so we're trying to mix in some threads like this where the information is in the OP or first couple posts, but I have no pride of ownership on this thread and will happily take input from the community

Finally, in this sentence did you mean to use both “miles” and “points?” “Flights on most of these partners only earn Aeroplan miles (i.e. no SQx), and some only earn Aeroplan points on certain routes (e.g. Cathay Pacific).”
Yes, I did, because I hate repeating the same thing over and over again. Do you think that might be confusing to people who are less familiar with the program?

Last edited by Adam Smith; Jan 8, 22 at 4:48 pm Reason: Fixed quote
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Old Jan 8, 22, 4:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
Yes, I did, because I hate repeating the same thing over and over again. Do you think that might be confusing to people who are less familiar with the program?
AC very deliberately made a distinction between miles and points.

Miles are status-qualifying, earned "one to one" for miles flown. Points are redeemable, earned from various sources, and once AC switches to revenue-based earning, will have no correlation to mileage.
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Old Jan 8, 22, 4:51 pm
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Originally Posted by canadiancow View Post
AC very deliberately made a distinction between miles and points.

Miles are status-qualifying, earned "one to one" for miles flown. Points are redeemable, earned from various sources, and once AC switches to revenue-based earning, will have no correlation to mileage.
Fair enough. I've changed it in both places.
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Old Jan 9, 22, 4:28 am
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You may have a point. I'm not sure there's as much confusion since the new program launched and AC killed Altitude, but if you have a thought on what could be useful, please post it and I can update the OP
Sure. Try this. If you don't think it helps or clarifies, just ignore it.

What is the difference between Aeroplan and Aeroplan Elite Status?

Aeroplan is a travel rewards program through which participants earn points they can redeem for travel through Air Canada as well as partner airlines, hotels, and other vendors. Aeroplan Elite Status (formerly known as Air Canada Altitude) is a travel status program through which participants earn benefits and special privileges as they achieve increasing levels of status. This thread is meant to address earning Aeroplan Elite Status, not Aeroplan points. (Do we have a "how to earn Aeroplan points thread" to link to here?)

You might also add this: Aeroplan points are related to the Aeroplan program. Miles, segments, and dollars (SQM, SQS, SQD) are related to the Aeroplan Elite Status program.

Last edited by TheCanuckian; Jan 9, 22 at 4:34 am Reason: clarity
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Old Feb 4, 22, 10:53 pm
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SQM Earning, Aside From Flying and Short-Term Promotions?

Sorry, newbie Q:

I'm not clear on what, aside from the above, yields SQM. Does regular credit card spending qualify? I'm not talking about redeemable miles, or achieving the 25K status level for spending 100K points on your credit card.

Also, on SQD...am I correct that all partner flights must be ticketed by AC?
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Old Feb 4, 22, 11:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Explore View Post
Sorry, newbie Q:

I'm not clear on what, aside from the above, yields SQM. Does regular credit card spending qualify? I'm not talking about redeemable miles, or achieving the 25K status level for spending 100K points on your credit card.

Also, on SQD...am I correct that all partner flights must be ticketed by AC?
I have moved your post here because all of your questions are answered in the first post.
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Old Feb 4, 22, 11:36 pm
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That is a very well written first post.

If I followed other threads correctly, credit cards are now basic/core/premium and no longer referred to as slate/black?
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Old Feb 5, 22, 12:04 am
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Originally Posted by vancouver25k View Post
That is a very well written first post.
Thanks

If I followed other threads correctly, credit cards are now basic/core/premium and no longer referred to as slate/black?
Yes. I don't think we had picked up on that change when I wrote that post a few weeks ago. I'll change it. Thanks for noticing that
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Old Feb 16, 22, 6:24 am
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35k or 50k for a friend

Does anyone know if you can select 35k or 50k benefits for a friend if that person already has a (lower tier) status? If you can do it, does that person get to reselect all of their select benefits or are they stuck with what they already picked at the lower tier?
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Old Mar 7, 22, 10:37 pm
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Any way to get rollover SQD?

I'm likely going to hit SE by the end of next month, due to a combination of the rollover SQM/S/D that everyone got last year, plus the extra bonus rollover for having the premium credit card, plus some very expensive cash fares during this double-SQM/S/D promotion going on until the end of April. Will be nice to get it so early, as it will keep me set through to the end of 2023.

Is there any way (other than special COVID-related special rollovers) to earn rollover SQD? Basically, I'm wondering if I should keep flying cash fares throughout 2021, May - Dec. (after I hit SE), or if I should just call it a year and start burning through my many Aeroplan points, if cash fares beyond SE won't have any additional/rollover benefits.

I know I could roll over up to 200K SQM based on my TD Visa Infinite Privilege credit card, but that isn't super helpful if I can't get any SQD to roll over.

Thanks!
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