Air Canada has announced changes to the Aeroplan Elite Status program for 2023. Specifically, Aeroplan 35k members will no longer have unlimited access to Maple Leaf Lounges as part of core benefits. Whereas, Aeroplan 50k (and above) members will enjoy access to Virgin Australia lounges when departing on a Virgin Australia or Air Canada® flight from that airport. Before we get into the details, here is some back story and context – humour me;

    • 2020/2021 – With travel industry reeling under impact of COVID-19, Aeroplan introduced lucrative promotions were members could earn Aeroplan 25k status without flying. A big hit, everyone and their dog become 25k elite in Canada.
    • Late 2021 – Travel still not back to normal, Aeroplan doubles down on their commitment to keep membership engaged and introduces status-bump promotions, allowing several new 25k members to bump up to Aeroplan 35k members.
    • 2022 – Travel returns with a vengeance. Lounges are full. Aeroplan 35k members are enjoying their free drink and pasta salad, while several 50k, 75k, and Super Elite members line up outside for their turn.

Aeroplan takes note – time to trim the fat.

2023 Status Program Updates

 Changes to Aeroplan 35K benefits: Some benefits will be discontinued, and some will be added or improved, as follows:

    • As of June 1, 2023, Aeroplan 35K members will no longer have unlimited access to our Maple Leaf Lounges as part of their Aeroplan 35K benefits. However, they will continue to get two (2) Maple Leaf Lounge guest passes as per usual.
    • New benefits starting January 1, 2023
      • Priority baggage handling: Aeroplan 35k member and travel companions will enjoy priority baggage tags on their luggage.
      • Additional eUpgrade credits: As a select benefit Aeroplan 35k members will be able to choose 15 eUpgrade credits. Thats 5 more than the current benefit of 10.
      • Priority Rewards to include all North America and Sun Destinations: Any Priority Rewards earned as an Aeroplan 35K member next year will be expanded to include bookings to all North America and Sun destinations, including Premium Economy, where offered (identical to what Aeroplan 50K’s receive)

The new benefits being added seem a bit cosmetic in nature, since more of these will require members to spend a more to really enjoy the benefit. The primary benefit which did not have any price tag attached to it, the lounge access, will be truncated. A net devaluation, in my opinion, for Aeroplan 35k members.

New Virgin Australia lounge access for Aeroplan 50K and above

In contrast, Air Canada has also shared that 50K, 75K and Super Elite Status, and one guest, can now enjoy access to Virgin Australia lounges when departing on a Virgin Australia or Air Canada® flight from that airport. A delightful addition to the existing perks for these members.

Overall Reflection

Can’t say I am surprised by the decision to cut lounge access for 35k members. As travel returns, as have many 50k and above members, who have done a lot more to maintain their status, and are likely a more profitable bunch for Aeroplan. Folks in Air Canada pride themselves in maintaining a competitive program, one that can consistently deliver benefits to members at all levels – and today’s announcement speaks further to that commitment. Crowded Maple Leaf Lounges have been a painful experience since return of travel, and I am glad there are some measures in place to address it in 2023.