Air Canada Buddy Pass Explained

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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 60,000 points when spending $6,000 within 3 months
  • Earn 5,000 points per month when spending $1,000 each month for 6 months
  • 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)

Air Canada Buddy Pass Toronto to Maui

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)

Air Canada Buddy Pass Vancouver to Toronto

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)

Air Canada Buddy Pass Los Cabos

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)

Air Canada Buddy Pass Victoria to Orland

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.

Final thoughts

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.

Air Canada Buddy Pass Explained

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

52 Comments

  1. Hailey on November 8, 2020 at 12:44 PM

    You think 1179 to Orlando is crazy, how about 770 from Vancouver to Kitimat, both in British Columbia

    • Barry Choi on November 8, 2020 at 12:58 PM

      Hailey,

      That’s bonkers.

      • Vishnu on February 20, 2022 at 1:01 AM

        Very nice information. Can we use a buddy pass for a multi-city trip? For example from Toronto to San Francisco. From San Francisco to Vancouver and from Vancouver back to Toronto.

        • Barry Choi on February 20, 2022 at 9:40 AM

          Hey Vishnu,

          As far as I know, it’s not possible. I know you can’t book a multi-destination ticket with your Buddy Pass online. You could try calling in to see if they do, but I suspect the answer is no.

    • ilm quddus saint laurent on November 9, 2020 at 2:12 AM

      it is more expensive travelling inside canada then travelling international one way from victoria is more expensive then a try in Thailand or Heathrow u.k

  2. PETER LEE on November 8, 2020 at 3:09 PM

    How about am currently an Aeroplan Credit Card member of TD Bank ? Would I be able to
    get the Air Canada Buddy Pass with the renewal next year. Alternatively, as I have not received any Buddy Pass from my current TD Bank Aeroplan Credit Card before, would I be able to secure
    the Buddy Pass if I apply for a CIBC Aeroplan Infinite Card ?
    Thanks.

    • Barry Choi on November 8, 2020 at 3:13 PM

      Hi Peter,

      You wouldn’t get the Biddy Pass when your card renews, but you would get it if you applied for a new Aeroplan credit card that comes with one. So yes, getting the CIBC Aeroplan Infinite Card at any time would work.

  3. Peter So on April 8, 2021 at 9:52 PM

    Do we need to spend additional $1000-1500 in 90days for the buddy pass, on top of $1000 for the 20000 aeroplan points, or just $1000 for both perks?
    Thanks

    • Barry Choi on April 9, 2021 at 5:38 AM

      Peter,

      When you spend $1,000, you get both the extra 10,000 points and the Buddy Pass.

      • Janet Beatty on June 28, 2022 at 7:37 AM

        Does the primary card holder need to be one of the travellers or can you book 2 other people(children)

        • Barry Choi on June 28, 2022 at 7:53 AM

          Hi Janet,

          The primary must be one of the travellers to use the Buddy Pass.

  4. Gary on April 12, 2021 at 7:10 PM

    Hi Barry:

    I applied and got approved for the TD Aeroplan card in February, 2021. I spent $1,000+ in my first month and received 20,000 bonus Aeroplan points in March 16, 2021, but not the Buddy Pass.

    Do you know how long before I can see my Buddy Pass in my Aeroplan Account?

    Thanks,

    • Gary on April 12, 2021 at 7:14 PM

      To add : I have never applied for this TD Aeroplan Visa card before. So I should qualify for the Buddy Pass.

      • Barry Choi on April 12, 2021 at 7:19 PM

        Hi Gary,

        There have been multiple reports of the Buddy Pass not showing up in accounts for 3-4 months so I suspect that’s what’s happening with you.

        • Gary on April 12, 2021 at 7:42 PM

          Oh? I thought the Buddy Pass supposed to show up at the same time as the bonus Aeroplan points, I guess not. Thanks for letting me know.

          • Barry Choi on April 12, 2021 at 7:58 PM

            Unfortunately not. Many people have had to wait quite some time for it to show up.



  5. Dave Keating on May 9, 2021 at 3:46 PM

    Where on the Air Canada site can I see if my buddy pass has been added to my account?

    • Barry Choi on May 9, 2021 at 4:53 PM

      Dave,

      It’s in the benefits tab of your Aeroplan account.

      • Janet Seale on June 5, 2022 at 10:55 PM

        Hi Barry,

        How do I go about redeeming the buddy fare? I have been on hold for over an hour trying to ask an agent about it.

        Thanks,

        Janet

        • Raj on September 10, 2022 at 6:33 PM

          I agree. What’s the use of getting a buddy pass when it is a nightmare to redeem. i was transferred four times between Air Canada and Aeroplan today and still no luck in getting it redeemed.

  6. Afi on July 2, 2021 at 5:11 PM

    I know we can upgrade the class on the buddy pass to business if we use the eUpgrades, but as someone who does not have the elite status (yet!) would I be able to just pay the upgrade to business for the buddy pass ticket? Or are upgrades only possible with the status?

    • Barry Choi on July 3, 2021 at 6:24 AM

      Hi Afi,

      You can’t pay to upgrade your Buddy Pass.

  7. David on September 19, 2021 at 11:02 PM

    I got a td aeroplan infinite in November and got a buddypass approximately 3 months later. If I apply for CIBC aeroplan infinite in December, am I qualified for another buddypass since it has been more than 12months? My buddypass from TD is already redeemed.

    • Barry Choi on September 20, 2021 at 6:31 AM

      Hi David,

      Yes, you should qualify for one again.

  8. Queenie on October 1, 2021 at 1:03 AM

    You mentioned we have to spend $1,000 or more, is it a statement period or a transaction has to be more than $1,000?

    • Barry Choi on October 1, 2021 at 9:33 AM

      Hey Queenie,

      The minimum spend requirement to get a Buddy Pass is cumulative so it doesn’t have to be a single purchase.

  9. Mary on October 30, 2021 at 12:29 PM

    after calling aeroplan to convert the buddy pass to 30,000 points, how long should it take to post the points?
    There are two of us who converted at the same time with the same agent, and one was posted on Oct 18th and the other is still waiting for it to be posted

    • Barry Choi on October 30, 2021 at 1:27 PM

      Hey Mary,

      It’s kind of all over the place. Mine took like 6 weeks to convert.

  10. AdV on November 9, 2021 at 5:37 PM

    Can you use the buddy pass on a round trip that involves different cities but booked together? Say Edmonton to LaGuardia and then return Newark to Victoria. All booked on the same ticket.

    • Barry Choi on November 9, 2021 at 6:01 PM

      AdV,

      I don’t believe that’s possible.

  11. Jamie on November 16, 2021 at 12:20 PM

    Am I correct in my understanding that if I already received a buddy pass for a VISA product this calendar year that should I apply for an American Express product I would not be eligible for the buddy pass? I the 12 month calculation ongoing or simply per calendar year?

    • Barry Choi on November 16, 2021 at 12:36 PM

      Hi Jamie,

      The 12 month window is ongoing, not per calendar year.

  12. Gerrard on January 13, 2022 at 6:09 PM

    Hey Dave,
    Has anyone had success with calling AP and getting the Buddy Pass to show up sooner? Waiting for weeks-months is frustrating!

    • Barry Choi on January 13, 2022 at 6:39 PM

      Gerrard,

      Apparently, it’s up to the credit card provider to get it processed. It took like 8 weeks for TD to post mine.

  13. Emre on March 16, 2022 at 11:39 AM

    Hi Barry,
    Got a question regarding AMEX Aeroplan Reserve. I signed up to it last month (February 2022) when at the time one of the bonus offers was 5000 points for every 1,000$ spending for the first year, which is still being offered. The other bonus offer was 3,000$ spending in the first 3 months gets you 30,000 pts AND a buddy pass, however, at the time of writing (March 2022) the bonus is not being offer any more. Unfortunately I did not save any website or take a screenshot of these offers (well except for one small section) and there is no mention of these in the fine print.
    Should I be worried about getting short-changed? Or in other words will AMEX/Air Canada honour this offer once I spend that amount? I wasn’t able to find any where on AMEX site to track these targets.
    It could get even more nerve wracking if, as your previous comment is still true, it takes several months for it to show up on Aeroplan.

    • Barry Choi on March 16, 2022 at 3:17 PM

      Hi Emre,

      The offer you get is based on what was available when you signed up for the card. What’s available now is irrelevant.

      If you’re not sure, you can always call Amex and they’ll tell you what offer you have and how far you are from reaching it.

  14. Pam Light on July 22, 2022 at 12:59 AM

    is the buddy pass for Air Canada standby? If so do you lose the buddy pass if there are no standby seats available? I would switch to points but they won’t let you do that anymore. Has anyone traveled on the buddy pass? Does it work okay?

    • Barry Choi on July 22, 2022 at 6:37 AM

      Pam,

      The Buddy Pass is for paid tickets. When you use it, you have a confirmed seat.

  15. Pam Light on July 22, 2022 at 6:19 PM

    thank you! 🙂

  16. Avni on July 24, 2022 at 10:48 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for this post. I applied for the TD Aeroplan Visa, and fulfilled all the contract requirements to qualify for the Buddy Pass. The Buddy Pass was loaded to my Aeroplan account after approximately 4 months of having the card. I have not yet used my Buddy Pass to book a trip. Recently my card came up for annual renewal, and I elected not to renew my card after speaking with TD. Last week I went to my Aeroplan portal to book a trip with my Buddy Pass, only to discover that the credit card company removed it. TD is now telling me that they can do this because I did not renew my credit card. Is this possible?

    • Barry Choi on July 24, 2022 at 2:35 PM

      Hey Avni,

      I was under the impression that once you have it, it’s yours. THat said, clearly they can claw it back since that’s what happened with you.

  17. Danny on October 3, 2022 at 12:20 PM

    I have a buddy pass a year ago from Amex Aeroplan card welcome bonus. I converted to 30k mile right after. I cancelled the Amex Aeroplan card after 12 months yesterday. Amex told me the buddy pass I have will be forfeited. Will I lose the 30k mile that I have from the conversion 12 months ago ?

    • Barry Choi on October 3, 2022 at 12:38 PM

      Danny,

      No, you won’t lose the 30K points.

  18. Alex on October 28, 2022 at 10:58 AM

    If I book a flight with my buddy pass for December 2022 and then proceed to cancel my credit card that gave me the buddy pass. What happens to the flight that was booked with a buddy pass? Because I know if I not applied my buddy pass yet, it would be taken away from me. But what happens if I have already applied it to a flight?

    • Barry Choi on October 28, 2022 at 12:19 PM

      Hey Alex,

      I’m not 100% sure, but they shouldn’t be able to claw it back if it’s already attached to a ticket.

  19. Nick on November 21, 2022 at 3:07 PM

    Is it still possible to convert a buddy pass to aeroplan points at this time (November 2022)? I did not see an option on their web site to do so.

    • Barry Choi on November 21, 2022 at 5:05 PM

      Nick,

      You can no longer convert your AC BUddy Pass to points.

  20. Barry on November 25, 2022 at 6:13 PM

    does an AC buddy pass have a max value? I booked a return flight for 2 Wpg to St.John’s NFLD
    and the pass was applied to wpg to st John’s but said not valid for return flight. Both flights had the symbol showing buddy pass eligible. Thanks

    • Barry Choi on November 25, 2022 at 6:47 PM

      Hey Barry,

      If you’re purchasing a return ticket, the Buddy pass should automatically apply for both legs.

      • Barry on November 25, 2022 at 7:54 PM

        Thanks for the prompt reply. Cancelled my booking ( and amazing buddy pass was restored immediately ) Tried rebooking and getting same problem. – “Buddy pass not applicable” on one leg. Tried different day, different flight Only difference is that one time pass was denied on outgoing legs instead of return, Will try again tomorrow. If only one could contact AC Cust service

        • Barry on November 28, 2022 at 5:43 PM

          I waited a couple of days and tried again. Wouldn’t work. Weird thing was I tried different days – Dec or Jan worked OK. Feb or later only applied buddy pass for one direction. Decided to waste some time on hold so phoned AC – hold was not bad, about 45 minutes (there is options in phone menu for buddy pass bookings) and got a person who booked it
          no problem – but could not say why it would not work online. Now just have to hope AC doesn’t change or cancel my flights down the road.

          • Barry Choi on November 28, 2022 at 8:33 PM

            Barry,

            Thanks for reporting back. Hopefully it was just some glitch since customer service was able to apply it for you.



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