In July 2022, Air Canada & Emirates announced plans to form a strategic partnership. That partnership officially launched as of November. We’re now seeing the introduction of reciprocal points earning and redemption opportunities, as well as reciprocal elite perks, so I wanted to recap everything about the partnership in this post.
Air Canada & Emirates strategic partnership basics
Air Canada & Emirates have activated a partnership, intended to improve travel options between Canada and the United Arab Emirates.
As part of this, Air Canada and Emirates have launched a codeshare agreement, giving Air Canada travelers more flight options beyond Dubai, and giving Emirates travelers more flight options beyond Toronto. Specifically, this covers 46 destinations across North America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The codeshare agreement allows customers to book connecting travel between both airlines’ networks on a single ticket, creating more seamless check-in and baggage transfers. There are also implications for Air Canada Aeroplan and Emirates Skywards members, which I’ll cover in more detail in the next section.
For context, Air Canada currently operates 5x weekly flights between Toronto and Dubai, though as of spring 2023, will increase frequencies to daily. Emirates also operates 5x weekly flights between Toronto and Dubai, though isn’t able to expand further based on the current bilateral agreement (as Etihad also has slots to fly between Abu Dhabi and Toronto).
Air Canada doesn’t have flights from anywhere else in Canada to the UAE, and Emirates doesn’t have flights to anywhere else in Canada.
This new strategic alliance is pretty interesting, because historically Canada’s government has been over-protective of Air Canada, preventing competition from foreign airlines. Emirates would love to add more flights to Canada, including increasing frequencies to Toronto and adding more destinations, but the Canadian government has restricted this.
Conversely, while Air Canada has been able to operate to Dubai, the airline has struggled with connectivity, given its lack of a partnership with Emirates.
It’s nice to see the two airlines now cooperating. Who knows, with the support of Air Canada, maybe this will eventually lead to Emirates also getting more access to other gateways in Canada.
What does this mean for Air Canada Aeroplan?
Air Canada Aeroplan is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs, thanks to the program having more airline partners than any other program in the world, and also allowing stopovers for just 5,000 points one-way. Naturally one of the most exciting aspects of this new partnership is the impact for frequent flyers. Let’s go over those details.
Reciprocal points earning opportunities
As part of this new partnership, Air Canada Aeroplan and Emirates Skywards are offering reciprocal points earning opportunities globally. This isn’t just valid for codeshare flights, or for itineraries including travel on both airlines.
For example, you can find the Air Canada Aeroplan points earning rates below. However, note that Emirates flights don’t count toward elite status — they just help you earn Aeroplan points.
Reciprocal points redemption opportunities
Air Canada Aeroplan and Emirates Skywards are offering reciprocal points redemption opportunities globally. So assuming there’s saver award space available, Emirates Skywards members can redeem on Air Canada, and Air Canada Aeroplan members can redeem on Emirates, including in first class.
Naturally the more exciting opportunity here is for Aeroplan members to redeem on Emirates. This follows a new award chart (shown below), and I discussed the value proposition of this in a separate post.
While the redemption rates aren’t that attractive on the surface, it is exciting to be able to redeem Aeroplan points on Emirates without fuel surcharges. The ability to have stopovers on award tickets, and mix and match partners, is also awesome.
Aeroplan already has frequent flyer partnerships with several Middle Eastern airlines, including Etihad Airways, Gulf Air, and Oman Air.
Reciprocal lounge access
Air Canada and Emirates are offering reciprocal lounge access for elite members and premium passengers:
- In Dubai (DXB), Aeroplan Elite 50K, 75K, and Super Elite members traveling in Emirates economy class will be able to use the Emirates Business Lounge, along with one guest; later in 2023, this will be extended to Air Canada passengers, when Air Canada moves to Terminal 3 at the airport
- In Toronto (YYZ), Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum members traveling in Air Canada or Emirates economy will enjoy complimentary access to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges and Air Canada Café, along with one guest; for Emirates flights departing Toronto, business class passengers will have access to the Maple Leaf Lounge and Air Canada Café, and first class passengers (and up to one guest on the same flight) will have access to the Air Canada Signature Suite
This is some very nice reciprocity on both sides — in particular, it’s exciting that Emirates first class passengers get access to the Air Canada Signature Suite in Toronto, which is quite an upgrade over the old arrangement.
Air Canada & Emirates have launched their strategic partnership, including rolling out reciprocal loyalty benefits. This includes a codeshare agreement, reciprocal points earning and redemption opportunities, reciprocal lounge access, and more.
This is a very well executed collaboration, and on the surface seems much closer than the new partnership between Emirates and United (even though that was hyped a lot more).
What do you make of the new Air Canada & Emirates partnership?