Thursday, April 3, 2014

Air Canada tightens up on Super Elite 100K’s in 2014

Rewards Canada contributor Sol Zia gives us a look at some unannounced changes for SE 100Ks

Very subtly and without any announcements (that I could gather or find) Air Canada’s Altitude program made some small but impactful reductions to the service levels of Super Elite 100K’s.

1.       New restrictions on access concierges:

Air Canada’s concierge services for Super Elite 100K’s changed as of March 1. Super Elite 100K members used to be able to contact concierge office directly during their business hours (which varied by gateway). As of March 1 that contact was restricted to day of departure only with all other inquiries being rerouted to a central Air Canada agent. To many Super Elite members this was a significant loss of service and many inquiries to the concierge were related to complex booking, seating or destination requests days away from the date. Based on my casual conversations with concierges in two markets they are already hearing complaints about the cutbacks in two major Canadian markets. It’s surprising that this change was never communicated to Super Elite 100K members.

2.       Inability to log your Elite status number to some Aeroplan Reward bookings:

Also, seemingly, new as of March 1, 2014 is the loss of ability to register your Aeroplan/Altitude number to a rewards booking made by another member (e.g. your spouse). Now this may seem trivial until you realize that this new restriction makes it difficult to take advantage of core Super Elite 100K privileges that apply when you are traveling on a “cash” ticket versus a rewards ticket. For instance 3 complimentary bag check-in, priority boarding and lounge access now require showing your card to receive the privilege (this is non-trivial when you try to check-in online and show no complimentary bags allowed). What is worse for some Super Elite 100K members is the access to Business or Executive First when Economy is sold out is gone completely. Now this is not a documented privilege but all Elite status members know that when Economy is full and they have to “bump up” passengers that Elite members (ranked by status) get access to those seats first.

As a Super Elite 100K member my lingering question is, “Is this just the tip of the iceberg or anomalies that were likely to happen and don't foreshadow more restrictions/changes to come?”

Sol Zia has been a Super Elite 100K member since 2003 and is a semi-regular contributor to Rewards Canada.


  1. My view on access to concierges is that SE's abuse the privilege. I've seen people walk in and pick up boarding passes that they called the concierge to print for them. That's a waste of their time in my opinion.
    I do see the loss when there are various possibilities to change flights when most flights are oversold which is the case this coming week to YEG and YYC. My flight pass made it difficult to book a direct flight to YEG and I have to go via YYC. In the past i could ask the YYZ concierges to monitor the direct flights for the day I want and it would be done. That is not going to happen with the "SE desk" such that it is.

    On the 2nd point I just booked a flight for my wife in J on Aeroplan and got it by matching my paid booking to hers and AC connected the two PNR's. Otherwise they were going to route her to her destination with one stop, even though I was booking it as a SE. The problem here appears to be AC's seat management system where they hold way too many premium priced seats in the hope of selling them closer in which is fair enough if they would allocate seats based on a different algorithm. it also appears that the relationship with Aeroplan is changing dramatically as time goes on and the Altitude program takes hold.

  2. frankly, as far as I can see (and have experienced) there is virtually no difference between 75K and 100k'ers and very little difference between 50K and 75K/100K. Concierge services is the only distinguishable difference and with the very limited available of concierge services, I would not include this as a 'benefit' for 100k super elites. If you are a million miler or more, the 'life' status is reduced to 50k. This represents virtually NO value and draws full attention to the question -- why participate in the AC frequent flier program (better known as AC ATTITUDE!)