Should Air Canada Altitude requirement be re-evaluated on individual basis?

by Anshul
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‘Tis the season, of mileage running and stressing over meeting elite requirements of airline programs. Air Canada switched to a revenue (hybrid) based loyalty program for 2017. And as in every program, there are several members on the cusp of meeting the stringent requirements and wondering if their beloved program will make an exception in their case. So, should Air Canada Altitude requirement be re-evaluated on an individual basis? Depends on who you ask..

Air Canada Altitude requirement for status in 2017

The Altitude program merged the traditional qualifying miles requirement (AQM) with the new qualifying dollar requirement (AQD) , for 2017 qualification. Unfortunately, they also decided to make the Super Elite 100K club more exclusive by tagging a whopping $20,000 CAD requirement.

Air Canada Altitude requirement

Air Canada Altitude requirement for 2017 – Dollar amounts in CAD

Shortly after releasing the new requirements, Air Canada Altitude also announced that the AQD requirement for non-Canadian members would be 50% lower than that of Canadian members. As per the update, “For non-Canadian residents, the Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) will be 50% lower than the published amounts found in the chart above. Proof of address may be requested in order to apply non-Canadian resident AQD requirements.”

This move was clearly directed towards retaining a strong portfolio of US membership, that could now earn the Super Elite 100K status with 100K miles and $10,000 CAD (or ~$7000 USD).

Air Canada Altitude requirement being re-evaluated on individual basis?

As December rolls on and business travel slows down, several Canadian road warriors have reported falling short on AQD while comfortably meeting the AQM requirements. They have promptly started writing to Air Canada about the high AQD requirements and obviously requesting that an exception be made. The email exchange below, shared by a friend, was interesting and caught my attention;

Air Canada Altitude requirement

Email exchange with Air Canada Customer Relations

What clearly stands out is the upfront explanation of how lower fares do not add to the airlines bottom line and the cost of benefits (given to members) is being accounted for – “However, all benefits of the Altitude program come with a cost to Air Canada and we have to set a reasonable target AQD to pay for these services.  Unfortunately, many of the lowest fares are just not adding to our bottom line and can’t be considered.”

Apparently, Jeremy also mentioned (in follow up emails) that  feedback will be reviewed to determine if an exception can be made on AQD requirements on a case by case basis.


Use overseas address: For Canadian members that have access to overseas address (Proof of address ‘MAY’ be requested), it is a no-brainer to switch the primary address to make use of the significantly lower AQD requirements.

Those not joint at the hip with Air Canada may consider trying a different airline’s loyalty program.

Status match and status challenges: Status matching with another airline is very much a thing. Some airlines promote their status match offers, others do it on a case by case basis. If not status match, you can easily get status challenges (match your status for 90 days, fly ‘x’ number of miles, keep that status for the year ). A quick ‘how to status match’ in google will give you an idea. StatusMatcher is a good resource where members share their experience with recent status match requests.

Take Away

If you are missing a status milestone by a whisker, definitely write an email to highlighting your concerns. I can see Air Canada making some exceptions in cases that really warrant it, obviously it will be completely at their discretion. Personally, they have made an exception for me in the past (pre-AQD days) when I was 1000 miles away from 100K status. If enough members email  them, I hope Air Canada would do the right thing (for the Canadian membership) and lower the AQD requirements for the following year.

Did you make status for 2017? Share your thoughts with a comment below.

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