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How To Upgrade to Business or Signature Class on Air Canada Flights [2023]

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Air Canada’s frequent flyer program is called Aeroplan, and many an award traveler has used it to book premium cabin tickets on a variety of Star Alliance carriers with points.

While many have experience with booking tickets outright, using the Aeroplan program to upgrade Air Canada flights is less talked about.

So that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. And we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive right in!

Types of Upgrades

Before we discuss how to upgrade your flight, let’s go over the specific types of Aeroplan upgrades you need to be aware of:

  • eUpgrades: You can upgrade using credits issued by Air Canada. These can be used for any Air Canada, Air Canada Express, or Air Canada Rouge itinerary.
  • Star Alliance Upgrade Awards: With participating partners, you can use currencies from other airlines to upgrade your Air Canada and Air Canada Express flights.
  • AC Bid Upgrade: Upgrade any economy or premium economy ticket by bidding cash. Applicable for Air Canada, Air Canada Express, and Air Canada Rouge. 
  • Last Minute Upgrade Purchase: Upgrade using cash at check-in or at a self-service check-in kiosk. This program is intended to sell seats that would otherwise be empty right before departure. 

How To Find Out if Upgrade Space Is Available

One of the only ways to access the specific number of upgrades available is by using ExpertFlyer — we talk about this more in our guide on the best ways to upgrade to business or first class.

ExpertFlyer is a paid subscription website that charges $99.99 per year billed annually (or more if you pay monthly). However, it is an extremely useful tool for savvy award travelers to have in their arsenal.

Hot Tip: Learn more about how to use ExpertFlyer to search for award space and upgrades.

Using ExpertFlyer, follow these steps to find upgrade inventory on Air Canada:

  1. Visit ExpertFlyer.
  2. Log in to your account with your email and password.
  3. Click Flight Availability on the left side of the page.
  4. Type in your route and travel dates and select Air Canada as the airline.
  5. Under Only Show Class(es), type:
    • R for Business – E-Upgrades to see eUpgrade-eligible flights.
    • I for Partner Awards & Upgrades using Star Alliance partner currencies such as Singapore KrisFlyer (not for flights wholly within North America).
    • Z for North American Business class upgrades from O/Y/B classes using Star Alliance partner currencies.
  6. Click Search.
  7. The number of upgrade seats is displayed on the right side.

Air Canada ExpertFlyer award space
ExpertFlyer shows Air Canada’s upgrade availability. Image Credit: ExpertFlyer

In the screenshot above, you’ll see that this flight shows “R9,” which corresponds to the fare class “R.” These are the number of eUpgrades available, which means this flight has 9 eUpgrades available.

Similarly, if you look for upgrade availability using Star Alliance miles, like KrisFlyer miles from Toronto to Tokyo, you’ll want to look for the “I” fare class. If you’re looking for upgrade space for 2 travelers, you’ll want to see at least “I2” available — “I1” and “I0” wouldn’t work.

Upgrading using miles is only possible with specific fare classes. And to make things even more confusing, the number of miles necessary and eligible fare classes will vary depending on which miles you’re using.

For example, the mileage cost of an upgrade with Singapore KrisFlyer will be different from the cost using United MileagePlus, which is a major source of confusion we’ll address below.

Air Canada also labels its fare classes with names instead of referring to them with the 1-letter fare code we are all used to:

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Air Canada Accrual Chart for Air Canada Flights
Fare NameAccrual Structure Based on Miles Flown
Business150%
Premium Economy125%
Latitude125%
Comfort115%
Flex100%
Standard (International)50%
Standard (Domestic Canada)25%
Basic (International)25% (no Status Qualifying Miles accrued)
Basic (International between Canada and the U.S.)25% (no SQMs accrued)
Basic (Domestic Canada)10% (no SQMs accrued)

Hot Tip: Upgrades for each flight and ticket will have different availability depending on the booking class, route, and dates. It’s a best practice to check every flight individually.

Upgrade Priority: Who Gets the Upgrade First?

Air Canada Signature Class cabin 787
Air Canada Signature class aboard a 787. Image Credit: Air Canada

The Importance of Elite Status

Getting upgraded from economy to any premium cabin seat will depend heavily on your level of elite status with Aeroplan. Just like how United uses elite status to automatically establish your position on a waitlist, this is also the case with Air Canada Aeroplan.

The higher your Aeroplan elite status, the higher priority you will be in line to have your eUpgrades clear.

Aeroplan calls this your eUpgrade clearance window. Unlike frequent flyer programs like American Airlines AAdvantage where your upgrade can clear outside of the confirmation window if there is confirmed upgrade space available, your eUpgrades will not begin clearing until the clearance window.

Here is the chart of eUpgrade clearance windows:

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Air Canada Aeroplan eUpgrade Clearance Windows
Aeroplan Elite StatusPremium Economy (Flexible) and LatitudePremium Economy (Lowest), Comfort, Flex, and StandardPremium Economy (Lowest), Comfort, Flex, and Standard
All FlightsNorth America and Sun Destinations (Mexico and the Caribbean)International
Aeroplan Super EliteAnytime14 days7 days
Aeroplan 75KAnytime12 days6 days
Aeroplan 50KAnytime10 days5 days
Aeroplan 35KAnytime8 days4 days
Aeroplan 25KAnytime4 days3 days
Aeroplan Member7 days

For example, if you’re an Aeroplan 50K member and you’re looking to apply an eUpgrade to a flight between Vancouver (YVR) and Seoul-Incheon (ICN) booked in the Standard fare class, your eUpgrade will clear starting from 5 days before departure.

As you can see, Aeroplan 75K and Aeroplan Super Elite members can have eUpgrades clear within 6 and 7 days, respectively. Therefore, members with higher status will typically always have higher priority.

Hot Tip: The number of eUpgrades will vary significantly depending on your route, your booking class, your elite status, and much more (learn about eUpgrade requirements on Air Canada’s website).

The only way to have eUpgrades clear further out than the clearance window is to apply them on the most flexible tickets, which are Premium Economy (Flexible) and Latitude tickets. Typically, these are also the most expensive.

Furthermore, Air Canada has a program called Early Recognition, which gives you benefits for qualifying for elite status faster than usual.

When you reach a higher level of status before the end of the year, you’ll have the chance to choose your Select Privileges. This means that you can pick 1 item from a list of perks (similar to “choice benefits” offered with some top-tier hotel statuses).

If you make Early Recognition and qualify for the higher status before December 31, you get to receive up to 10 eUpgrade credits before the new year — essentially an advance of eUpgrades (the exact number of eUpgrade credits will vary depending on your exact qualifying tier).

Here are the amounts of eUpgrade credits you could receive for each status level, including the number available in advance with Early Recognition’s Select Privileges:

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Aeroplan Status LevelNumber of eUpgrade CreditsNumber of eUpgrade Credits From Early Recognition
25K250
35K305
50K4010
75K5510
Super Elite7010

Say you were to qualify for 75K on October 15, 2022. When you meet the qualification requirements, you’ll receive 10 eUpgrade credits. Then, come 2023, you’ll receive your regular 55 eUpgrades.

Bottom Line: Elite status is very useful because you’ll get more eUpgrade credits depending on which tier you’re in. More eUpgrade credits mean you can upgrade more flights! Plus, higher elite status means a higher upgrade priority!

Details of Using eUpgrades

Your eUpgrade credits typically expire on January 15 of the year after your elite status period, giving you nearly 14 months to use them.

That said, there’s a different amount of eUpgrade credits required for each route.  Luckily, Air Canada has a guide to help you figure out how many eUpgrades you’ll need.

If you want to upgrade a companion, Air Canada offers an avenue to do so: the eUpgrade Travel Companion. If you hold any Aeroplan status, you can use eUpgrade credits to request an upgrade for both yourself and a companion on the same reservation.

Hot Tip: You can also upgrade a companion on a different reservation, but these requests can only be performed on the day of departure at the airport.

If you’re a top-tier Super Elite member, you can also use the eUpgrade Nominees benefit. You can essentially give upgrades to anybody for any purpose if they are an Aeroplan member. Keep in mind that a nominee can only receive upgrades from a single Super Elite member.

While eUpgrade Travel Companions must be on the same flight as the status holder, eUpgrade Nominees do not need to be traveling with the Super Elite member.

If you end up running out of eUpgrades or needing more, you can also complete “Flight Pass activities” to get more eUpgrade credits. You’ll also earn Status Qualifying Miles (SQMs) for purchasing Flight Passes.

Aeroplan Status Level Benefits

Aeroplan elite status cards
Image Credit: Air Canada

Let’s move away from eUpgrades for a moment. Different Aeroplan status levels also provide benefits when it comes to selecting preferred seats, which include exit row seats.

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Aeroplan Status LevelSeat Upgrade Benefit
25K
  • 50% off preferred seats on Flex fares in all markets
35K
  • 50% off preferred seats on Flex fares in all markets
50K
  • 50% off preferred seats on Flex fares in international markets
  • Choose a complimentary preferred seat (Flex fares within North America only)
75K
  • Choose a complimentary preferred seat on Flex fares in all markets
Super Elite
  • Choose a complimentary preferred seat on all fares in all markets

If you’re interested also in priority seat selection, which is simply at the front of economy, you’ll be able to choose those with any Aeroplan status, starting from the 25K level.

Priority and preferred seats are technically not upgrades, though they are an enhancement over regular economy seats.

Bottom Line: The best way to upgrade on Air Canada is by using eUpgrade credits — these have the most award availability and are attainable by qualifying for certain tiers of Aeroplan elite status. Having Aeroplan elite status can also provide you with priority or preferred seating, which aren’t upgrades, but can help you secure a better economy seat on flights.

The Value of the Aeroplan Credit Card

The new Aeroplan® Credit Card, which is issued by Chase, allows you to enjoy higher upgrade chances/priority on Air Canada.

Aeroplan® Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Aeroplan card is a great option for Air Canada flyers looking to earn more points and receive automatic elite status.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
The Aeroplan card is a great option for Air Canada flyers looking to earn more points and receive automatic elite status.
Earn 70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
70,000 points
$1,050
95
21.74% - 28.74% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

Flyers based in the U.S. may think they wouldn’t have a need for a card like the Aeroplan® Credit Card, it might be much better suited for you than you think.

Not only does Air Canada offer fantastic award redemptions, but adding the card to your wallet makes the program even more rewarding by offering elite status, more points, travel coverage, and more. Let’s take a closer look and see why the Aeroplan card might make a lot of sense for you.

Pros
  • 3x points per $1 on Air Canada purchases, at grocery stores, and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services)
  • 500 bonus points for every $2,000 you spend in a calendar month (up to a maximum of 1,500 bonus points)
  • Receive Aeroplan 25K status for the remainder of the calendar year, plus the following calendar year, and continue to extend it beyond that by spending $15,000 on the card per calendar year
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 70,000 bonus points
  • Earn 70,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • Redeem points for both international and domestic flights with the Aeroplan® Credit Card.
  • Fly to another continent and travel the world with the Aeroplan® Credit Card.
  • Earn 3X points for each dollar spent at grocery stores, on dining at restaurants, and Air Canada directly. Earn 1X point for each dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 500 bonus points for every $2,000 you spend in a calendar month - up to 1,500 points per month.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.74% - 28.74% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

If you earn Aeroplan 75K status through flying and other activities, you can use your Aeroplan card and spend $50,000 to get bumped up 1 tier to the top-tier Super Elite status.

However, we’d only recommend this if you’re a frequent traveler on Air Canada. Otherwise, we recommend using a card with one of Air Canada’s transfer partners (like Amex) that earns better rewards, especially if you’re looking for flexibility offered through transfer partners.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
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The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

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American Express® Gold CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
60,000 points
$1,320
$250
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.

With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.

There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.

Pros
  • 4x points per dollar at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases; and 1x thereafter
  • 3x points per dollar on flights purchased directly from airlines or at AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Upgrading With Points or Miles

There are 2 main avenues for upgrading with points or miles:

  • You can use Aeroplan points to bid for an upgraded Air Canada flight.
  • You can use any other Star Alliance airline’s miles to upgrade your Air Canada flights.

Which currency you end up using will depend on your exact situation. This is because airlines have different transfer partners and ratios, which can change the equation depending on what upgrades you’re trying to make.

First, we’ll talk about upgrading Air Canada flights using Aeroplan points. Then, we’ll move on to discuss the method for using other airline miles to upgrade Air Canada flights.

Aeroplan Mileage Upgrades on Existing Reservations

Using Aeroplan points to upgrade your flights is very easy:

  1. Book an economy ticket.
  2. Go to the Aeroplan website and enter your booking reference and last name to see if your flight is eligible for an AC Bid Upgrade.

Sounds pretty easy, right? It is, but you’ll find that the cost to use points is very high because AC Bid Upgrades using Aeroplan points has a very low cent-per-point value.

Bottom Line: Overall, this process is very easy. Since you’re upgrading with points, you do not need any form of elite status, eUpgrade certificates, or anything else pertaining to Air Canada Aeroplan. You simply need to bid using Aeroplan points, and you’re good to go.

Star Alliance Mileage Upgrades

Star Alliance is unique in that you can use any airline partner’s miles to upgrade on any other Star Alliance flight. This means you can spend KrisFlyer miles to upgrade Air Canada flights, or Aeroplan points to upgrade KrisFlyer flights, for example — the partnership goes both ways.

However, there are some restrictions:

  • You can only upgrade 1 class, either from economy to business or business to first.
  • You must upgrade specific fare types.
    • This means that you’ll likely need to have an expensive/flexible economy ticket; some airlines will allow cheaper fare classes to be upgraded but ultimately it will vary from airline to airline.

Different airlines charge different prices for upgrades, and you’ll want to follow these steps to find out how much upgrading your flight will cost:

  1. Visit the Star Alliance redemptions website.
  2. Click Book Your Upgrade.
  3. Choose the airline whose miles you want to use.
  4. Click Visit Website.
  5. Complete the process for Star Alliance upgrades on the website to which you’re redirected.

Bottom Line: You’ll need to abide by individual frequent flyer program upgrade rules, but once you’ve done that, you’ll find you can achieve some great value by using any Star Alliance airline’s miles to upgrade your Air Canada flights. 

Upgrading With Cash

Finally, let’s take a look at how you can upgrade your Air Canada ticket using cash! There’s just 1 way available, so let’s go through it in detail.

Last Minute Upgrade Purchase

Air Canada upgrade
Image Credit: Air Canada

If all else fails, and your elite status and frequent flyer points aren’t good enough to secure that upgrade for you, there is another way!

Air Canada offers a program known as the Last Minute Upgrade Purchase, which you can use to upgrade to either business class or premium economy. Note that basic fares aren’t eligible for these upgrades.

When successful, you get access to all of the best parts of business class travel, including priority security and boarding, as well as lounge access and all the inflight business class services available.

And if your reservation has more than 1 passenger, you must either upgrade all travelers or none at all — there’s no way to upgrade some of the passengers.

Your Last Minute Upgrade Purchase may be offered as soon as 24 hours prior to departure during the online check-in process, or as soon as 12 hours prior to departure at the self-service check-in kiosk.

Additionally, Last Minute Upgrade Purchases are offered at least:

  • 45 minutes prior to departure for flights within Canada
  • 1 hour prior to departure for flights between Canada and the U.S.
  • 1 hour prior to departure for all other international routes to or from Canada

Hot Tip: While you can enjoy the benefits of a business class product with a Last Minute Upgrade Purchase, you will not earn points or elite status according to your upgraded ticket; your accrual is based on your original ticket.

How Much Do Air Canada Last Minute Upgrades Cost?

In many cases, Last Minute Upgrade Purchases can be fantastic deals. Here are some historical routes with their upgrade prices.

Keep in mind that these quoted prices (in USD)are for one-way flights:

  • Honolulu (HNL) to Toronto (YYZ) from economy to business: $201
  • Montréal (YUL) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) from economy to premium economy: $106
  • Montréal (YUL) to Newark (EWR) from economy to business: $139
  • Montréal (YUL) to Paris (CDG) from economy to business: $310
  • Montréal (YUL) to Vancouver (YVR) from economy to business: $349
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Bogotá (BOG) from premium economy to business: $344
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Las Vegas (LAS) from economy to business: $775
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Madrid (MAD) from economy to business: $802
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Punta Cana (PUJ) from economy to business: $214
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Tel Aviv (TLV) from premium economy to business: $714
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Tokyo (HND) from economy to business: $2,698
  • Vancouver (YVR) to Maui (OGG) from economy to business: $202
  • Vancouver (YVR) to Montréal (YUL) from economy to premium economy: $197
  • Vancouver (YVR) to Toronto (YYZ) from economy to business: $750

How To Secure an Upgrade or Increase Your Chances of an Upgrade With Air Canada

With Air Canada Aeroplan Elite Status

  • Earn eUpgrade credits by achieving Air Canada Aeroplan elite status and purchasing a ticket with eligible fare classes. The eUpgrade cost will vary depending on the fare class, route, status, desired cabin upgrade, and your Aeroplan status.
  • Purchase a higher-fare ticket that will require fewer eUpgrade credits.
  • Use Aeroplan points to book an award flight outright, without worrying about upgrade availability.
  • Search for upgrade availability as soon as you have an idea of what dates and flights you’re taking.
  • Choose priority and preferred seating by leveraging Aeroplan status. This isn’t an upgrade per se, but it can make a short-haul flight more comfortable by giving you better economy or economy plus seats.
  • Take advantage of eUpgrade Travel Companions to upgrade your companions on a flight you’re taking.
  • Take advantage of eUpgrade Nominees to upgrade someone else on any flight they’re taking.

Without Air Canada Aeroplan Elite Status

  • Purchase an upgrade-eligible ticket and bid for an upgrade with Aeroplan points on Air Canada, Air Canada Express, and Air Canada Rouge tickets.
  • Purchase an upgrade-eligible ticket and upgrade with any Star Alliance carrier’s miles.
  • Consider heavily discounted premium fares to save your miles.
  • Use last-minute upgrades to purchase a low-cost upgraded ticket when you’re at the airport.

Final Thoughts

Air Canada’s various processes and systems for getting upgrades are convoluted, though they align with other airlines’ upgrade procedures for the most part. Getting that treasured upgrade is a complicated process, but it can be rewarding for those who take the time to understand it.

There are several main ways to get upgrades:

  1. eUpgrade credits
  2. Mileage upgrade bids using Aeroplan points
  3. Mileage upgrades using Star Alliance miles
  4. Paid upgrades via bids
  5. Last Minute Upgrade Purchases

Each of these methods has its own pros and cons, and there are ways to get upgraded without elite status. Elite status is useful in providing upgrades with Aeroplan, and the eUpgrades you acquire by achieving elite status levels or completing certain Flight Pass activities can be instrumental in confirming your upgrades.

The eUpgrade method will provide the best availability, but these are generally only accessible for Aeroplan elite members. If you don’t have eUpgrades, you can also be an eUpgrade Travel Companion or eUpgrade Nominee of someone who does.

Air Canada has many ways of upgrading to business class — be sure to refer to this guide whenever you’re booking an Air Canada flight and are hoping to score a coveted upgrade!

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my upgraded Air Canada ticket allows a free checked bag?

When you upgrade a flight on Air Canada, you are entitled to the same luggage allowance as if you had purchased the ticket with cash.

Find more information regarding checked baggage in our guide.

How can I get upgraded on an international ticket if I don't have status with Aeroplan?

You don’t need to hold elite status to upgrade with Air Canada.

You can upgrade if you’ve purchased a ticket in a certain fare bucket and have enough points or miles to do so. You can use Aeroplan points or any other Star Alliance carrier’s miles to upgrade your ticket.

Keep in mind, however, that eUpgrade credits (which are attainable with Air Canada Aeroplan elite status) have better award availability than mileage upgrades.

Can I upgrade an Air Canada award ticket I purchased with miles?

Yes, you can now upgrade an award ticket!

Check how much it’ll cost here.

When will the Aeroplan points be deducted and are any extra fees charged for an upgrade request?

As soon as your upgrade is requested and processed, the points/fees will be deducted from your Aeroplan frequent flyer account. Also, your credit card on file will be charged if you’re upgrading from a deeply discounted ticket using eUpgrade credits.

Which fare class should I buy to make sure I get an upgrade on Air Canada?

To upgrade with points, you’ll need to submit the highest bid using Aeroplan points. If you’re upgrading with another Star Alliance airline’s miles, you’ll need to follow their rules.

If you’re using eUpgrade credits, you can pretty much upgrade any fare class. However, a cheaper fare class will require more eUpgrades than a more flexible/expensive fare class.

Finally, you can bid for an upgrade or pay for a last-minute upgrade with cash.

What is the difference between economy and economy plus seats on Air Canada?

Economy plus seats have more legroom compared to economy seats. Furthermore, they will be located in either an exit row or at the front of the aircraft.

If you have the right Air Canada Aeroplan status, you will have a complimentary selection of priority and preferred seats. Priority seats are at the front of the aircraft and will allow you to deplane faster when you land. Preferred seats have more legroom.

Lower-level elites with Air Canada Aeroplan may not get complimentary seat selection, but they may get it at a discounted rate.

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