Air Canada’s spun off frequent flyer program, Aeroplan, is making some interesting changes on the elite qualification front for next year, per this FlyerTalk thread. While the number of miles and segments required to qualify for status isn’t changing, there’s an added requirement — at least 10,000 elite qualifying miles or five segments need to be on Air Canada in order to qualify for any status level.
What’s the significance of this? Well, nowadays many people are savvy and don’t necessarily credit miles to the programs of the airlines they fly with most. You see, Air Canada’s middle tier status only requires 35,000 elite qualifying miles, and gets you Star Alliance lounge access whenever you’re flying a Star Alliance airline. So I know plenty of people that fly around 40,000 miles/year on United, and choose to credit those miles to Aeroplan for the lounge access. The even more common scenario is that someone flies substantially over 100,000 miles/year, and credits their excess miles to Aeroplan. Now, whether or not that’s worthwhile is for a whole different post, because I actually don’t think it’s always worthwhile given the complications that come with constantly switching frequent flyer numbers on reservations.
More than anything else, I find this interesting from Aeroplan’s perspective, especially since they’re a spun off frequent flyer program. Now, I have no clue how they’re compensated by Air Canada and how Air Canada compensates them, but I’m not totally sure if I understand the reasoning behind this. If anything, I would expect a non-spun off frequent flyer program to have this requirement. I guess the question is, do other airlines pay Aeroplan substantially less than Air Canada does for miles that are credited to them? Isn’t it in a way beneficial for Aeroplan to have a lot of members that don’t frequently fly with Air Canada, since (theoretically) they will redeem fewer upgrades for travel on Air Canada and use fewer of their accrued benefits? Does Aeroplan pay substantially less for lounge access to Air Canada lounges compared to partner lounges?
Anyway, I’m not expecting any good answers, though I’m sure there’s some reasoning behind it. Ah, the airline industry secrets that I’m just dying to know…
What I find most interesting is that most Aeroplan members in the FlyerTalk thread above are applauding the change. I don’t necessarily see it as a negative change, but then again I don’t see why anyone would be happy about it either. If someone has top tier status but never flies with Air Canada, what threat do they pose to other Aeroplan members?