Immediately prior to press time, Air Canada’s Aeroplan released the changes to its elite program for 2004. In a conference call with the press, Aeroplan President Rupert Duchesne explained that the changes had been implemented to be “economically rational,” and to better allocate benefits according to revenue spent.
In essence, the changes now let members choose from an assortment of three “packages” of benefits, in order to best complement their travel habits, whether they are North American, transpacific, or transatlantic flyers.
Without further ado, the changes:
Reduced qualifying levels for 2004 top-tier status: 85,000 Status Miles for Super Elite status, 30,000 Status Miles for Elite and 15,000 Status Miles for Prestige. Largely in recognition of reduced business travel through 2003, Aeroplan has opted to make elite access available to more travelers.
Air Canada upgrade certificates for travelers who purchase Freedom and Latitude fare categories (i.e., higher fares) for travel in North America. Some of the lower booking classes eligible for 2003 upgrades will no longer be offered on domestic (and eventually on transborder) routes. However, Super Elite and Elite members can select a benefit package that contains system-wide upgrade certificates that include the opportunity to upgrade from low fare categories.
Addition of upgrade-eligible booking classes on flights to and from Europe and the Middle East for Elite and Prestige members.
Complimentary upgrade certificates awarded through the 2004 threshold bonus start at 15,000 Aeroplan Status Miles, and members receive two upgrades at each subsequent 15,000 Aeroplan Status Miles accumulated.
Aeroplan will offer 2004 top-tier members the opportunity to select a portion of their benefit package that is designed around varying levels of upgrade certificates and Maple Leaf Lounge passes. Eligible members will receive a letter before the end of February advising them to select their benefit packages online in a special section for top-tiers, accessible from the homepage at aeroplan.com.
Access to Maple Leaf Lounges remains largely unchanged. Aeroplan Super Elite and Elite members continue to have complimentary access. In addition, members will have an additional choice of lounge access depending on the experience package they choose. Super Elite members now have the ability to select a benefit package including a complimentary spousal card.
At present, member reaction has been mixed. InsideFlyer will continue to follow the reaction to the changes in upcoming issues.