Air Canada becomes first North American airline to extend elite status through 2022

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As reported by View From The Wing, Air Canada is the first North American airline to extend elite status through 2022 in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The airline first extended 2020 elite status last April when the virus first started to wreak havoc on the travel industry. While vaccines have started to roll out around the world, the virus has continued to spread in Canada and other parts of the world. This had continued to keep many travelers grounded — especially as the U.S.-Canada border remains closed — so it makes sense that Air Canada is further extending status for travelers.

In this article, I’ll give you a quick overview of Air Canada’s latest status extension and discuss other changes announced.

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Air Canada elite status extended through 2022

As discussed, Air Canada has further extended elite status through 2022. This includes those who earned status in 2020 and 2019, giving them an extra year to enjoy elite status benefits.

As you’d expect, an elite who earns a higher elite status tier this year will be able to use their upgraded benefits for the remainder of 2021 and all of 2022.

Air Canada will let elites choose Select Benefits like bonus Aeroplan points, eUpgrade credits, and Status Passes in early 2022. This is a great perk, especially since Select Benefits are usually seen as a bonus benefit on top of standard elite status benefits.

Priority Reward vouchers also extended

The airline is also extending unused Priority Reward vouchers earned in 2020. These upgrades will be extended through Oct. 2022 and can be used any time until that expiration date.

As a reminder, Priority Rewards vouchers are earned when you hit specific SQD milestones. You can use them to book Aeroplan awards with a 50% points discount. Each status tier earns different vouchers that can be used in different cabin classes. For example, Aeroplan 25K members can use their vouchers for 50% off economy flights, while Super Elites can use vouchers for business class tickets.

Aeroplan points won’t expire in 2021

Further, Air Canada will pause the expiration of Aeroplan points until Jan. 31, 2021. After this date, the standard 18-month points validity will apply. You can keep your Aeroplan points active by earning or redeeming a single point. The extension will reflect in member accounts in the coming weeks.

Related: How to keep your points and miles from expiring

“Status Jumpstart” added for some members

Aeroplan members who qualify for any elite status tier in 2021 (through flight activity) will have their Status Qualifying Miles (SQM), Status Qualifying Segments (SQS), and Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) earned in 2021 rolled over to 2022. This will apply to any member who earns at least 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS, plus $3,000 SQD ($1,500 for non-Canadian residents) in 2021.

For example, an Aeroplan 35K member that earns 27,000 SQM, 10 SQS and $3,500 SQD will start the 2022 status year with their Aeroplan 35K status and the same number of SQM, SQS and SQD in their account. In turn, this will make it far easier for Aeroplan elites to earn or upgrade status in 2022 (for the 2023 status year) without worrying about losing their current status tier.

Related: How to earn Air Canada elite status without flying

Bottom line

This is the most generous status extension we’ve seen so far, and I’m hopeful that U.S. airlines will follow suit in the coming weeks. The travel industry is showing signs of a strong recovery as vaccines rollout around the world, but most business travel is still grounded. This means that many elites will be unable to extend their status in 2021, so further extensions are badly needed.

Feature photo by Heather Dunbar/Shutterstock

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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