Flight passes are essentially pre-paid flight segments at a fixed cost that are offered by some airlines. Flight passes are often marketed for the flexibility they offer travelers and their cost-effective price. In this post, we evaluate Air Canada’s Weekend Flight Pass to help you figure out if it is a good deal for you.
Overview – The Basics:
The Air Canada Weekend Flight Pass is a bundle of 4 one-way flight credits for 1 passenger or 8 one-way flight credits for 2 passengers between set geographic areas. The Weekend Flight Pass offered by Air Canada is marketed as listed below:
Enjoy spontaneous getaways with The Weekend Flight Pass. Perfect for those who are looking for a change of scenery, this attractively priced pass helps you make the most of your weekends. It can also be used for a longer trip if a weekend vacation just isn’t enough.
What it is: An electronic prepaid package of 4 one-way flight credits for 1 passenger, or 8 one-way flight credits for up to 2 passengers, in Economy Standard fare.
Who can buy: Aeroplan® members. Not a member? Sign up here.
When you can fly: Travel on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for 12 months following the purchase date.
When you can book a flight: Up to 3 days prior to departure.
Where you can fly: Within Canada or between Canada and the U.S.
Options are available for East or west Short-haul flights as well as Transcontinental Flights. For flights departing from the west, Short-haul flight credits start at $197 per flight credit and Transcontinental start at $389 per flight credit.
Overview – The Fine Print:
Beyond the brief marketing of the Weekend Flight Pass by Air Canada, there is a significant amount of fine-print. We summarize the important points and encourage everyone considering purchasing a flight pass to read the full details here.
- Who can purchase it: The Weekend Flight Pass must be purchased by a Canadian resident with a valid Canadian address and be a member of Aeroplan with a valid Aeroplan number and password.
- How long it is valid for: Once purchased, the flight pass is valid for 12 consecutive months from the date of purchase. If needed, you can pay $250 to extend the flight pass; the extension needs to be done 1 month prior to the pass expiry and can only be extended once.
- Who can use it: Flight credits are non-transferable and can only be used by the Flight Pass owner.
- Flexibility: Flight pass bookings can be made up to 3 days in advance of travel and is subject to availability. Bookings are permitted for travel on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- Fare Type: The flight credit bookings are subject to the availability of S – Standard Fares.
- Changes and cancellations: Any flight changes will be subject to change fees of $75 per direction and same-day changes will be charged a fee of $150 per direction + taxes.
- Upgrades: If you are eligible for Air Canada eUpgrade Credits, you can apply them to flights booked using the Weekend Flight Pass.
- Altitude Qualifying Miles: The Weekend Flight Pass opportunities to earn are not that significant if you’re looking to achieve Air Canada Altitude status. “Traveller will earn 50% Aeroplan Miles (Altitude Qualifying Miles) for distance flown on Transborder flights. and 25% Aeroplan Miles (Altitude Qualifying Miles) for distance flown on connection flights within Canada operated by Air Canada and participating Air Canada Express carriers when using flight credits. Altitude Qualifying Miles qualify for Air Canada Altitude status.”
Factors to Consider:
When we first heard about the Air Canada Weekend Flight Pass and saw the price tag, we were enticed to look into it further because it seemed like a great deal. Upon further analysis though, we determined it wasn’t that great of a deal for us based on how and where we travel, and our priorities when it comes to earning miles and status. We do think this flight pass is a good option for others though for the reasons we discuss below.
Compared to other Air Canada flight passes, the flexibility associated with the Weekend Pass is poor in our opinion. For us, we’d get the most use of the flight credits booking last minute on flights that have space but with this flight pass, you need to book at least 3 days in advance and it subject to space. For example, a Flex pass costs a lot more but you can book up to 1 hour prior to departure but there is no Flex option for this Weekend Flight Pass.
We also see value in this flight pass for travel on peak days when fares might sky rocket. As the flight credits are one-way, you could technically use it as a one way, and purchase a return flight at another time. For example, if you’re departing in the Friday of a long weekend and there is S space availability, you could use your flight pass for that flight segment and purchase a separate return flight. We have also noticed that flying back on a Sunday can be more expensive so you could use the credit then too.
We have also noticed that some flights are more expensive depending on the time of day you depart; the flight pass offers you a flight credit and flexibility by not paying more for a better flight departure.
In addition, the most concerning aspect of this flight pass is that “Flight credit bookings are subject to availability of a Standard fare option (S booking class).”. If an “S” fare is not available, you will not be able to use the flight pass.
Based on this factor, the Air Canada Weekend Flight pass would be the most beneficial for people who aren’t necessarily set on specific dates or destinations for Friday to Sunday trips and for flights that are more expensive when they fall on peak travel days.
For us, the West Short-Haul flight pass doesn’t offer a lot of value as we feel that we can find good deals or better ones by purchasing tickets due to the number of airlines that service the west coast. For example, it is pretty easy to find return flights from YVR – Vancouver to LAX – Los Angeles for $400 or less, which is essentially the same price as two flight credits. If your departure city is YYC – Calgary, you may find better value from the Air Canada Weekend Flight Pass as the going rate for a return flight between YYC – Calgary and LAX – Los Angeles is about $600 for a Friday to Sunday trip.
Tip: It is very easy to search flight schedules and prices using Google Flights . Conducting this research will help you get a sense of what the going rate is for the flights you are interested in.
Another factor that you need to consider when looking at the Transcontinental flights are the actual flight options themselves; is the route serviced by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and participating Air Canada Express carriers? For example, a one-way ticket to AUS – Austin Texas from YVR – Vancouver at $389 sounds like a great deal but the flight options aren’t that great and the better ones include Air Canada and United Airlines segments which means you cannot book those flights using this flight pass. That being said, using a one-way flight credit to fly from YVR – Vancouver to FLL – Fort Lauderdale is a good deal as it is very rare to find a one-way fare under $389.
Based on this factor, the Air Canada Weekend Flight Pass would be the most beneficial for people who are planning to book flights when fare deals aren’t commonly available and on routes with decent Air Canada service and flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and participating Air Canada Express carriers.
Return on Investment:
If you are looking to earn Altitude Qualifying Miles and Altitude Qualifying Dollars, the Air Canada Weekend Flight pass might be disappointing as you only earn 50% of miles flown. Depending on the price difference, which varies from flight-to-flight and date-to-date, sometimes it is worth spending a little more to book a Flex Fare to earn 100% of the miles flown.
If you are earning miles and status with another airlines, you will be hard-pressed to find value in this flight pass by diverting your mileage to Air Canada. We are Alaska Airlines 75K and we are working hard to re-qualify for that status and so we are unable to divert flights to Air Canada to use the Weekend Flight Pass right now.
Even if the flights are eligible for eUpgrade Credits, the amount required to upgrade will be higher based on the fact the flight is an S – Standard Fare ticket. If you have eUpgrade Credits to use, you’ll have to decide when and how to use them for these flights.
Based on this factor, the Air Canada Weekend Flight Pass would be the most beneficial for people who want to find the best deal and who don’t have goals to achieve status or airline miles.
The Air Canada Weekend Flight Pass is an interesting product for frequent and not-so-frequent travelers to consider for weekend travel as well as longer trips. Like anything, it does require some analysis if budget is a concern. If you have extra money to spare, you may want to purchase one for those times when you might be able to use it to get the best deal. While for us a major downside is the 3 day advance booking minimum, it could be a fun way to book a last minute trip based on what’s available flight wise to explore new places or surprise family last minute.
If you do intend on purchasing the Air Canada Weekend Flight pass, you need to do so by July 3rd, 2019. If you don’t have an Aeroplan number, you need to allow for up to 72 hours to get one activated in order to purchase the pass.
Do you think the Air Canada Weekend Flight pass is a good deal? Would you like airlines to offer a similar product?
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