A new perk that has just been introduced by Aeroplan is the Air Canada Buddy Pass, which is one of the best ways to save on travel. To simply put it, with an Air Canada Buddy Pass, you can save hundreds of dollars on your flight at any time.
What really makes the Buddy Pass appealing is the fact that it’s easy to get one and there are no blackout dates at all. From how to get multiple Buddy Passes to how much it’ll cost, here’s everything you need to know about the Air Canada Buddy Pass.
What is the Air Canada Buddy Pass?
The Air Canada Buddy Pass is a new benefit from the Aeroplan program that can be obtained if you have a select Aeroplan credit card. With the Buddy Pass, the first passenger pays full fare Economy wherever Air Canada flies and the second passenger just pays taxes and third-party charges (the base fare is $0). It can not be used if you’re redeeming flight rewards with your Aeroplan points. It also can’t be used for premium cabins.
The ticket itself is valid for round-trip Economy Class seats on Air Canada flights, including Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express, to anywhere in North America. It can also be used under the various fare types such as standard and flex. Under Aeroplan, North America includes Hawaii and Mexico, so there’s a lot of potential value here.
Since the Buddy Pass has no blackout dates, you can use it during peak seasons such as the summer and Christmas. This is obviously beneficial since flights are more expensive at those times.
Although the Buddy Pass is only good for Economy Class, if you have Aeroplan Elite Status, you can use your eUpgrade credits or rely on your standard benefits that come with your tier to get into the higher cabins.
You do not earn any Aeroplan points or earnings through the use of the Buddy Pass. Again, the Buddy Pass only applies to Air Canada flights. You can’t use it on Air Canada Vacations packages or with any of Air Canada’s Star Alliance partners.
The Air Canada Buddy Pass is only available to new applicants. Current cardholders can not earn one unless they apply for a new Aeroplan credit card that offers the Buddy Pass. In addition, the Buddy Pass can not be used on any other airline besides Air Canada.
How much does the Air Canada Buddy Pass cost?
Using the actual Buddy Pass will cost you nothing beyond any taxes and third-party fees. Under the new Aeroplan, Air Canada has eliminated carrier surcharges, so third-party fees would only be things such as airport fees or local fees.
Unlike WestJet’s companion voucher where you pay a small fee depending on where you’re flying, the Air Canada Buddy Pass has no additional fees.
That said, obtaining an Air Canada Buddy Pass is not technically free. You get it when you meet the minimum spend requirement with co-branded credit cards. So you do need to spend money to get the Buddy Pass, but that spending can be on anything.
How to get an Air Canada Buddy Pass
The Air Canada Buddy Pass is given as part of the welcome bonus with select Aeroplan credit cards. The Buddy Pass is just part of the welcome bonus as the cards also give you some additional Aeroplan miles.
To earn the Buddy Pass, you need to meet the minimum spend requirement ($1,000 – $1,500) within 90 days of account opening. Some Aeroplan cards that offered the Buddy pass in the past include:
- American Express Aeroplan Card
- TD Aeroplan Visa Business
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business
That’s a lot of Aeroplan credit cards where you can earn an Air Canada Buddy Pass. Once you’ve reached the minimum spend requirement, the Buddy Pass will be deposited into your Aeroplan account shortly thereafter. You would then be able to use your Buddy Pass when searching for flights on Aircanada.com or through the Air Canada App.
The Buddy Pass gets deposited to the primary cardholder’s Aeroplan account.
Which card you choose is really a personal decision. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, and American Express Aeroplan Card are great mid-tier cards. The welcome bonus is decent and you get free checked bags. That said, if you fly Air Canada frequently, you may want to consider the American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card for the additional benefits.
American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card
- $599 annual fee
- Earn 7,500 points per month when spending $2,000 each month for 6 months
- Earn 5,000 points each when adding additional users at the time of sign up (up to 10,000 points)
- Earn 35,000 points per month when spending $6,000 between months 13 and 16
- Earn 3 Aeroplan points per $1 spent on Air Canada, 2 points on dining and food delivery, and 1.25 points on all other purchases
- Unlimited free access to Maple Leaf Lounges in North America for you and a guest
- Free first checked bag, priority check-in and boarding on Air Canada
Can you get more than one Air Canada Buddy Pass?
One thing to note is that the Aeroplan Buddy Pass is a one time deal per card. It is not an annual benefit. Couples who travel together can each get a Buddy Pass if they each apply for a qualifying credit card. This can be quite useful if you happen to be a family of 4.
The terms and conditions of the Buddy Pass state the following:
“This one-time bonus Buddy Pass offer is only available to eligible Aeroplan Cardmembers. You will not be eligible for the Buddy Pass if you have previously opened an Aeroplan credit or charge card of the same type, regardless of the credit or charge card issuer and have received the Welcome Bonus offer of a bonus Buddy Pass in the last 12 months”
So you can only get one Buddy Pass per person in each 12 month period. That said, this once per 12 months rule only applies to the type of card. For example, if you got the following three cards, you could end up with three Buddy Passes in a year.
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite (core)
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Business (small business)
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege (premium)
As you can see, there are different classifications for each card with Aeroplan. By getting a core, small business, and premium card, you can get three different passes. Getting that many passes may not be necessary for many people, but think about it from a point perspective. You can convert the pass into 30,000 Aeroplan points. That means every welcome bonus is worth at least 30,000 points more. If you applied for all three of the cards mentioned and converted your Buddy Pass to points, you’d have 185,000 Aeroplan points. The annual fees would only cost you $599 for the first year.
When does the Air Canada Buddy Pass expire?
You get one year from the date of issuance (when your Buddy Pass is deposited into your account) before it expires. That said, you can use your Buddy Pass on dates that extend past your expiration date (up to one year), you just need to book your ticket before your expiry date.
For example, let’s say you obtain your Buddy Pass on December 17, 2020. The pass would expire on December 16, 2021. You could then book a trip to Mexico with travel dates in 2022 up to December 16, 2022, and you’d still be able to use your Buddy Pass as long as you booked by December 16, 2021.
Even if you have a premium Aeroplan credit card, your Buddy Pass won’t roll over to the next year like eupgrade credits do. If you have status, burning your Buddy Pass is probably worth it even if you get preferred pricing on Aeroplan redemptions.
How much can you save with the Air Canada Buddy Pass?
Although individual and luxury travellers may prefer more points over a Buddy Pass, there’s no denying how valuable the Air Canada Buddy Pass can be. Let’s take a look at a few different routes to see how much you could save.
Toronto to Hawaii (Dec. 20 – 27)
If you were to fly from Toronto to Maui, the total cost would be $737.58. If you had a Buddy Pass, the second ticket would only cost you $89.59 since that’s what the taxes, fees and charges come out to. In total, for two people, you’d pay $827.17. That’s a savings of $647.99! If you had two passes, the savings increases to $1,295.98
Vancouver to Toronto (Jul. 17 – 24)
Here we have a popular route for families that typically travel during the summer. The cost of a single ticket between Vancouver and Toronto is $850.66, which is pretty crazy since you’re just flying across Canada. However, with a Buddy Pass, two tickets would cost you $957.32. That’s much more reasonable and you’d save $744. All of a sudden summer journey doesn’t seem so bad.
Toronto to Los Cabos (Feb. 14 – 21)
Need a break from the winter? Looking for a romantic vacation with your loved one? Well, two direct flights to Los Cabos, Mexico from Toronto would only cost you $1,021.62. That would save you $703.
Victoria to Orlando (Aug. 8 – 15)
Now imagine a family of 4 in Victoria where their dream vacation is Disney World in Orlando. A standard fare is $1179.29 for the dates chosen which is absolutely bonkers. However, with the Buddy Pass, two tickets will only run you $1,300.59. If you had two Buddy Passes, you’d pay $2,601.18, which is a savings of $2,115.98.
How the Air Canada Buddy Pass compares
Clearly, the Air Canada Buddy Pass was inspired by the WestJet companion voucher. Which one is better is a matter of opinion, but I’ll try to look at things objectively. First off, if you fly WestJet on a regular basis, then the WestJet companion pass is probably better for you. This is especially true since you get one annually with the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard. For those who prefer Air Canada, the Buddy Pass is pretty good too, but it’s not as easy to get one compared to WestJet.
Now let’s look at cost and destinations for a second to try and compare things.
- $0 for anywhere within North America including Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean – Buddy Pass
- $119 for round-trip travel in Canada and the continental U.S. – WestJet companion voucher
- $399 for round-trip travel to/from the rest of the WestJet network
At face value, the Aeroplan Buddy Pass is better, but you can’t use it for international travel. As mentioned, getting an annual Buddy Pass also requires more work compared to WestJet. It’s also worth noting that WestJet has experimented with a $0 companion voucher to destinations within North America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes permanent since WestJet needs to remain competitive.
In the end, you should just look at what benefits you the most and what current promotions are available. Don’t forget, you can also get both.
It’s really not that hard to see how valuable the Air Canada Buddy Pass can be. Individual travellers and people who prefer to fly in the premium cabin or business for comfort won’t get much value here, but there’s no denying how much you can save. Those who like to maximize the Aeroplan loyalty program will also be disappointed that you can no longer convert your Buddy Pass to bonus points. That said, all you need to do is plan a little bit and apply for the right credit cards, and you can get a Buddy Pass.