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Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Air Canada Buddy Pass explained and evaluated

 With the launch of the new Air Canada Aeroplan program came updated co-brand payment cards and with that new limited time welcome offers. One part of the welcome offer that was revealed on the majority of the cards was a Buddy Pass and in this post we'll let you know the Buddy Pass and what it can provide in terms of value. 

Remember you'll be able to find this article and all of our other articles and features on the following page:

The New Air Canada Aeroplan Program All the resources you need

What is the Buddy Pass?

The Air Canada Buddy Pass is a companion pass that you can use to get a $0 base fare on any Air Canada, Air Canada Express or Air Canada Rouge flight in North America including Hawaii and Mexico. You receive the pass once you spend a set amount on an Aeroplan co-brand card within a set amount of time from opening your account (see the list below). The buddy pass is good for travel in economy class (in any economy class - Standard, Flex, Comfort, or Latitude​) so when you buy a ticket you can redeem the pass to have someone fly with you and you only have to pay the taxes and fees on that second ticket. The pass is valid for 12 months from date of issuance. This is where the potential big value comes in, if you are planning on traveling in North America, to Hawaii or Mexico and will be traveling with at least one companion you can enjoy some big savings, especially so if you buy the higher end economy class fare levels. The buddy pass has no black out date it can be used during peak season albeit peak season in 2021 won't be anything like pre-COVID times. 

The Buddy Pass is available on the following Aeroplan co-brand cards along with the minimum spend required to receive the pass

Once you apply for and are approved for one of the cards that offers a Buddy Pass it will show up in the primary cardholder's Aeroplan account shortly after reaching the required spend. 

These passes differ from the companion passes that many of us have become accustomed to from other credit cards. The Air Canada Buddy Pass is a one time use pass, it is not awarded annually like other credit cards however these passes have no co-pay requirement (outside of taxes and fees) that is seen on annual companion passes from cards like the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard, WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard and even the annual passes on the ultra premium Aeroplan cards. To put it in other terms - these buddy passes are a true $0 base fare value for the companion, not $119 and up as seen on those other cards.

As you may already see the Buddy Pass is good for those who travel with at least one more person in their party. If you are a solo traveler then your best bet is to wait for the next round of offers which will come out in the latter half of January or go for one of the cards like the American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card which has a big points bonus instead of a Buddy Pass. Even if you do travel with at least one other person you'll want to ask yourself will I be traveling to somewhere where I can use this pass in the next two years. There are a lot of unknowns with the pandemic before us however recent news that we're seeing success in vaccine trials could take away some of those unknowns. Also if you are someone who only flies overseas and never within North America or to Hawaii or Mexico there is no point to have it. But wait, you may ask they Buddy Pass expires 12 months from date of issue - how is it that I have two years? That 12 month rule is the time you have to book with the Buddy Pass not actually fly. Let's say you receive the Buddy Pass into your account on January 5, 2021, that means you have until January 5, 2022 to book flights and Air Canada loads schedules for almost a year beyond that. That means on January 5, 2021 you could book flights for travel as late as December 2022/January 2023.

How to use the buddy pass:


  1.  The primary cardholder logins to aircanada.com/myaeroplan and selects the Buddy Pass
  2. Search for your travel to anywhere in North America including Hawaii and Mexico
  3. Choose any Economy Class fare: Standard, Flex, Comfort or Latitude 
  4. Confirm and pay for your flights and you'll only pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket

It seems like a pretty straight forward process to use the Buddy Pass!

The Buddy Pass Evaluated

Now let's take a look at the value that can be achieved with the Buddy Pass with a few examples.

Toronto to Vancouver February 2021

Maybe you are thinking of hitting up Whistler for the short February Family Day break. Here's flights between Toronto and Vancouver (Feb 12-16, 2022). Here we look at the lowest Economy Standard fare and the highest Latitude fare:


The base fare for Economy Standard is $460 per adult which means the buddy pass will save you $460 with this particular example. Here are the same flights with a Latitude fare:


The base Latitude fare is $2,274! That's a huge value if and only if you want to book this fare class! The other Economy Class fares (Flex & Comfort) fall in between these two for savings but closer to lower end rather than the Latitude end.

Calgary to Montreal - December 2020

You have family back in Montreal and want to spend Christmas with them so here's a week long trip for two from Calgary to Montreal (December 22-29). Here we look at the lowest Economy Standard fare and the next higher Economy Flex fare which includes your first checked bag for free, lower changes fees etc.



The base fare for Economy Standard is $440 per adult which means the buddy pass will save you $440 with this particular example. Here are the same flights with an Economy Flex fare: 


 

The base Economy Flex fare is $727 per adult so the Buddy Pass would save you that exact amount!

Ottawa to Orlando - March 2021

You've had enough of the pandemic and ready are hit to up Disney World for March break following all safety rules! Here's Ottawa to Orlando (March 14-21). Here we look at the lowest Economy Standard fare on the direct Air Canada Rouge flight:


 

The base fare for Economy Standard is $661.98 per adult - that's a big savings for the cheapest economy class fare!

Regina to Honolulu - April 2021

Hopefully by April of next year Canadians will be able to visit Hawaii without a 14 day quarantine (perhaps by submitting a negative test result, which at time posting can't be done yet for us Canucks - read more about that here) If that's the case and you have enough a long cold Saskatchewan winter why not head off to the beaches of Waikiki:


 

With a base fare for Economy Standard at $658 that's the savings you'll see by using the Buddy Pass. Remember this Economy Standard which is the lowest fare, other Economy class fares will be higher hence a higher savings.

Edmonton to Cancun - March 2021

Canadians can travel to Mexico right now as this is written but maybe some Edmontonians will also have had enough of a long winter (Edmonton typically doesn't get Chinooks like Calgary) so how about March break in Cancun:

 

$687 in savings here when you use the Buddy Pass!

There you have it - a small snapshot into what sort of value the Buddy Pass can provide. For many of the flights I have searched this week the typical range of value seems to falling between $400 and $800 with even higher value for the higher economy class fare classes. There are cases where it may be lower, for shorter flights like Toronto-Montreal and Calgary-Vancouver but even then it shouldn't be hard to get at least $200 in value. 

There is a way to get even more value - and that's if you are a family of four or more, you and your partner could each get one of the Aeroplan cards, personally I would go with the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card as it has no annual fee in the first year and has the least amount of spend requirement to get the passes.  That way you would have two buddy passes essentially doubling your savings. This is the same reasoning behind Why my wife and I each grabbed our own WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercards (which details the Rewards Canada family getting two WestJet cards so we could have two annual companion passes)

As you can see there is the potential for some tremendous value from the Buddy Pass offer on these Aeroplan co-brand credit cards. The key to getting that value however is making sure you will utilize the passes. If you have any doubt at all that you may not use them then you'll probably want to wait for a different welcome bonus comprised of a lot more points since those points can be utilized anytime. Ultimately you need to sit down and figure when, where and if you would use the pass - once you do and you know you'll use it then go for it!  

Remember you can always find this article and many more on the following page of ours:

The New Air Canada Aeroplan Program All the resources you need

Don't forget to enter to win one of three prizes of 25,000 Points as Rewards Canada celebrates the launch of the new Air Canada Aeroplan program!


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