What if I told you that you could get a free plane ticket for your friend to join you on vacation?
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
With the Air Canada Buddy Pass, though, you can bring a friend along with you on a one-way or round-trip flight. Of course, you’ll have to pay for your own ticket. However, your companion’s plane ticket will be free. They’ll just need to pay any eligible taxes and fees.
Curious about how to apply for the Air Canada Buddy Pass? You’re in the right place. Below, I’ll explain everything you need to know about how the Air Canada Buddy Pass works and the restrictions on using it.
With over 200 planes in its fleet, Air Canada is the largest airline in Canada. Although Air Canada flights can be a bit costly compared to budget airlines like Lynx or Jazz Aviation, passengers get to take advantage of perks like:
- Free refreshments and snacks on flights
- Modern planes with charging ports and in-flight entertainment
- Wifi internet access (on certain flights)
- Excellent customer service
- … and more
Here’s how the Air Canada Buddy Pass works:
- Sign up for an eligible credit card (currently there are none available as of February 2023)
- Spend the required amount within the given term
- Get rewarded with one Buddy Pass
- Use your Buddy Pass to cover the cost of one full plane ticket for a buddy to join you
Once obtained, customers usually have a year to use their Buddy Pass. To redeem the Buddy Pass, the Aeroplan cardholder must purchase two plane tickets at once. They’ll be required to pay the full amount for their own ticket. However, their buddy’s plane ticket will be completely free.
In my experience, many credit card promotions offering “free” things tend to disappoint. There’s typically some type of fine print with ultra-specific rules about how your reward can be redeemed and what it can be used for.
Surprisingly, this is not the case with Air Canada’s Buddy Pass. In fact, the Air Canada Buddy Pass can be used for almost any flight or plane ticket booked through Air Canada, including:
- One-way tickets
- Round-trip tickets
- Flights within Canada
- Flights to the US
- Flights to Mexico
The main restriction is that the tickets you book must be economy-class tickets. You can’t use your Buddy Pass towards Air Canada’s premium business-class seating.
Hypothetically, you should be able to book yourself a business-class ticket, but your friend would have to fly economy.
How To Get The Air Canada Buddy Pass
Note that as of February 2023, there are no more Air Canada Buddy Pass Promotions available for new Aeroplan cardholders.
When there was a promotion in the past, here were the steps on how to receive a Buddy Pass.
Step 1: Sign Up For An Eligible Credit Card
You’ll need to check up-to-date Buddy Pass promotions, of which there currently aren’t any as of February 2023.
Depending on the card you apply for, you’ll need to spend a certain amount of money. Make sure that you mark your calendar for the final date and don’t pass it. If you’re just $1 short when the offer expires, you won’t get your Buddy Pass!
Hopefully, it won’t take that long. However, you shouldn’t make travel plans prematurely until you’ve been notified that your account has been credited with the Buddy Pass.
Once your credit card account has been credited with the Buddy Pass, it’s time to book your flight! To take advantage of the pass, you’ll need to book your flight directly through Air Canada’s website.
If you use a third-party flight-booking app or travel agency, you won’t be able to use your Buddy Pass.
Complete the flight checkout process as you normally would. Once you get to the final checkout screen, you’ll be able to use your Buddy Pass by logging into your Aeroplan account. Remember that the Buddy Pass can only be applied towards an economy-class seat.
Once you complete the checkout, you should receive an emailed notification with both of your tickets.
Credit Cards That Offer The Buddy Pass
Note that as of February 2023, there are no Air Canada Buddy Pass Promotions available for new Aeroplan cardholders.
Air Canada isn’t the only airline that offers a “buddy pass.” I’ve heard of several other airlines in Canada and the US that have their own versions of a buddy pass, which are issued to eligible employees of the airline.
For example, the US-based Delta Airlines (which is partnered with Air Canada), offers full-time employees a buddy pass that they can use to allow their immediate family members to travel for free with them. This buddy pass can be redeemed indefinitely, providing that the flight has unbooked open seats.
The Air Canada Buddy Pass isn’t a typical employee privilege, though.
With this in mind, the Air Canada Buddy Pass can only be redeemed once.
It’s a one-time promotional offer. If you fail to use it before its expiry date, you won’t get another opportunity to use it. Once you use it, that’s it – you won’t get another one.
Aeroplan could open the Buddy Pass program again in the future with reduced restrictions. But that’s just speculation at this point.
One of the best parts about Air Canada’s Buddy Pass offer is that it can be used any time during the year, even during peak season.
This is especially great if you’re travelling with your family. Often, the only time you may be able to travel with your family is when the kids are out of class in the summer. Summers are typically the peak season for airlines, and ticket prices are higher than average.
So, if you want to get the most monetary value out of your Buddy Pass, you may want to wait until the peak season to redeem it. Just make sure that you redeem it before the pass’s expiry date.
The Air Canada Buddy Pass can only be used for one single person. However, it’s not limited to use with a two-person booking. You could just as easily book five economy plane tickets, pay for four of them, and get the fifth one covered by the Buddy Pass.
There also aren’t any restrictions regarding how the individual covered by the Buddy Pass must be related to the cardholder. Your Buddy Pass can cover anybody, including:
- A friend
- A spouse
- A child
- Your employee
- A date
With this in mind, you probably shouldn’t mention your Buddy Pass to anybody until you’ve decided exactly who you plan on taking with you. Otherwise, you might end up in the centre of an argument as to who gets the free ticket!
Unfortunately, your Aeroplan credit card’s travel insurance policy does not include coverage for Buddy Pass-covered tickets.
If for some reason, you need to cancel or change the flight associated with the Buddy Pass, the ticket won’t be eligible for a refund or travel insurance coverage. Once the pass is used, it’s effectively burned and can’t be used again or re-applied in the event of a cancellation.
However, your travel insurance would still cover the cost of your ticket (which was paid in full).
You can save a lot with the Air Canada Buddy Pass, especially if you’re booking a round-trip ticket. Since the Buddy Pass can be redeemed towards a one-way or round-trip ticket, I recommend using it towards a round-trip ticket if you want to take full advantage of it.
Remember, the Buddy Pass can also be used for Air Canada flights to the US or Mexico. So if you really want to maximize your savings, use your Buddy Pass for a round-trip vacation down south!
Round-trip tickets from Toronto to Cancun, Mexico, can easily cost over $1,000 during the peak season. So if you plan your Buddy Pass usage right, you could stand to save $1,000 or more on your companion’s ticket.
At this point, my more frugal readers may be wondering if they can redeem the value of their Air Canada Buddy Pass for its equivalent cash value.
Admittedly, it’s a clever idea. However, your Buddy Pass cannot be redeemed for its cash value.
Technically, the Buddy Pass has no intrinsic value. It can’t be used to cover other purchases, can’t be sold or transferred to another individual, and can’t be redeemed for cash. The Buddy Pass’ value is entirely subjective and based on how, when, and if you use it for yourself.
If you already fly with Air Canada, then you may already be enrolled in the Aeroplan frequent flyer rewards program. If so, then you likely already have air miles on your account that can be used to help cover the cost of tickets and travel costs through Air Canada.
Unfortunately, the Buddy Pass cannot be combined with any Aeroplan rewards or air miles that you already have. It can only be used if you (the cardholder) pay the full price of your plane ticket.
As I mentioned, the Air Canada Buddy Pass has no intrinsic value. That being said, cardholders must charge a certain amount of money to their card to be eligible for a Buddy Pass.
With that in mind, if you randomly charge a bunch of unnecessary expenses to your new Aeroplan card, then technically, you will be “paying” for the Buddy Pass.
However, if you use your credit card to cover everyday expenses like groceries, fuel, or your hydro bill, then the Buddy Pass is essentially a free coupon.
To review, there are a few other restrictions surrounding the Air Canada Buddy Pass. With any promotion this good, you should always be aware of limitations, so you can take full advantage of the free money without being disappointed.
The limitations and restrictions for Air Canada’s Aeroplan Buddy Pass include:
- The Buddy Pass must be used within one year of issuance: if you fail to use the pass within the allotted time, it will be rendered expired.
- The Buddy Pass is a one-time promotional offer: so take advantage of it!
- The Buddy Pass cannot be used for business-class seats: it can only be applied to economy-class seating.
- The Buddy Pass can only be used for flights in the US, Mexico, or Canada: it can’t be applied towards international flights to Europe, Asia, India, or South America.
- The Buddy Pass is only available to new Aeroplan cardholders: if you’ve applied for or received an Aeroplan credit card in the previous 12 months, you won’t be eligible for a Buddy Pass.
- The Buddy Pass cannot be combined with other discounts: It can only be applied towards full-price economy-class tickets.
- Your flight must be booked directly through Air Canada: it’s not applicable towards other flights or for flights applied to through third-party travel agencies.
- Changes or cancellations to the flight VOID the Buddy Pass: if you cancel or change your flight, you’ll be responsible for paying for both tickets in full (unless you’ve purchased separate travel flight insurance).
Tips and Tricks for Maximizing the Air Canada Buddy Pass
To ensure you squeeze every ounce of value from your Buddy Pass, strategic planning is the key. Here’s a road map, sprinkled with some lesser-known hacks, to make the most of this unique offer.
- Peak Season Travel: Be smart about your timing. While many tend to shy away from peak seasons due to costs, your Buddy Pass can be the trump card that allows you to experience popular events or festivals without the usual hefty airfare.
- Round-Trip Tickets: This isn’t just about cost-saving but also about convenience. Direct flights or minimal layovers can make the journey enjoyable and ensure you have more time at your destination.
- Plan Ahead: The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the best flight deals. By sketching out a travel calendar, you can anticipate price drops, special airline offers, or even potential destination events worth attending.
- International Flights: Venturing beyond the familiar always brings an added thrill. Popular destinations like Tokyo, Paris, or Sydney can offer rich cultural experiences, ensuring your Buddy Pass journey is unforgettable.
- Stay Updated: Airlines often have flash sales or last-minute deals. By being in the loop, you might stumble upon an unexpected gem of a destination or a unique experience.
- Consider Nearby Airports: A little research can lead to big savings. By comparing prices between primary airports and secondary ones in the vicinity, you might find significant price differences and less crowded flights.
- Communicate with Your Buddy: Syncing with your travel companion ensures smooth sailing. Discuss preferences, share research, and maybe even build a joint travel vision board. It’s the shared excitement and anticipation that amplifies the journey.
- Use Companion Apps: Numerous apps offer real-time updates on flight prices, hotel deals, and local events. Integrating these into your planning can give you a holistic travel experience, optimizing every aspect of your trip.