Other than the Aeroplan Miles that you can get and redeem for travelling with Air Canada and other Star Alliance member airlines, have you ever wondered if it is worth it to be a loyal frequent flyer in order to earn status with an airline? Aaron did quite a bit of travelling last year and he also flew Premium Economy twice on international flights, which allowed him to acquire enough points to earn the Prestige 25K status. Out of the various benefits that are listed on their website, the following are the items I would like to highlight. These are privileges that we actually used or that we feel would be most relevant to our travel needs.
Priority Seat Selection
Given how difficult it is to get a good seat with your travel companion nowadays, it is nice to have priority in the seat selection process. Some seats are still off limits though and you will have to pay a fee. If you want a Preferred Seat, you can get a 50% discount, only if you pay for Flex Fare.
If you have never purchased a Flex Fare ticket, it is something to consider. Compared to Standard Fare you get advanced seat selection, earn more miles, a smaller fee for any changes, access to the Maple Leaf Lounges for $50 and have one free checked baggage.
Priority Airport Check-In
This is useful if you need to check-in a bag and there is a long line. We prefer to travel carry-on only so this is not always something we would take advantage of.
Complimentary Checked Baggage Allowance
This is useful for domestic travel, since there is no longer any free checked bags if you purchase a Basic or Standard Fare. Again, if you’re only travelling carry-on only, this not as useful.
Zone 3 Advanced Boarding
I like efficiency so between travelling carry-on only/getting priority check-in, getting a Nexus card to bypass long security line-ups and having advanced boarding, we save a lot of time when travelling. This means we don’t have to spend hours at the airport and this greatly improves our travelling experience.
Maple Leaf Lounge One-Time Guest Passes
Flying is very tiring at times and layovers can be exhausting. If you want to access to the Maple Leaf Lounge to rest in a nice area and get some snacks and drinks, you can purchase one-time entrance tickets (depending on your fare class), get a membership or use your guest passes. As a Prestige 25K member, you can have two guest passes as well as a discount on the membership. With a higher status, you may get more guest passes or have complimentary member access.
This is a less-than-straightforward benefit but once you figure it out, it’s a great perk! You get 20 credits for Prestige 25K that can be used towards seat upgrades. How we used this was after we have purchased a ticket, on the day of our flight, we called Air Canada and requested an upgrade. They advised us of how many credits are required and how much we have to pay in addition to the credits, then voila! We upgraded from Economy to Premium Economy from Vancouver to Toronto segment on our last trip using a total of 12 credits and $200 add-on for the two of us. We only decided to do this last minute but I believe if we had tried to upgrade earlier, we could have accomplished this online as well.
Under the aircanada.com Travel Options, you can get a complimentary meal and snack on board but this needs to be applied at the time of booking and not retroactively.
Carrier Fuel Surcharge Waiver
If you are booking a flight using Fixed Mileage Flight Rewards, they will waive the carrier fuel surcharge (YQ only).
Aeroplan Silver Privileges
In addition to the Prestige 25K privileges, you will also have access to Aeroplan Silver privileges. These are limited and the only one that we may use is the room upgrade and daily breakfast at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Again, this needs to be noted at the time of reservation and unfortunately cannot be retroactively applied.
As we near the end of 2019, I don’t believe we will have access to these benefits next year. This is a result of us making the decision to travel with some non-Air Canada and non-Star Alliance member airlines this year. If we happen to earn enough miles to have these benefits in the future, great. If not, I would not lose sleep over it. We have learnt that the perks of the other airlines (such as JAL), may be comparable to any of these benefits. In addition, given the upcoming changes to be expected in 2020 from the Aeroplan acquisition, I wonder if it will make this a more or less favourable frequent flight program.
What do you think? Would you consider flying more with Air Canada and Star Alliance member airlines now that you’ve learnt about these privileges?