Friday, February 26, 2010

United announces Quebec City-Washington Dulles service

Starting on Jun 9, 2010 United Airlines will offer once daily service between Quebec City and Washington Dulles Airport. The flight will be operated by United Express (Trans State Airlines) using an Embraer ERJ145.

Flight timings as follows:
Quebec City-Washington Dep 0900 Arr 1057
Washington-Quebec City Dep 1855 Arr 2046

Source: Airline Route Updates

Mexicana & Visa: Buy 1 Ticket get 1 Free

Mexicana and Visa have teamed up to offer a free companion ticket on round trip flights in coach class from Canada to the Mexican beach destinations of Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Huatulco, and Puerto Escondido. To book this offer you must call 1-877-801-2010 and provide promo code VISAC2x1. Of course you have to pay with your Visa Card. You must book by Mar 12 for travel until Mar 30. Blackout dates are Mar 12-15 and Mar 26-Apr 11


WestJet announces service between Calgary & Windsor

Had this one in my bookmarks for the past week and forgot to post it,

WestJet will launch seasonal summer between Calgary and Windsor on May 31. The once daily flights will run until October 30.

Flight Timings:
Calgary-Windsor Dep 1000 Arr 1523
Windsor-Calgary Dep 1615 Arr 1814

Source WestJet

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Japan's two largest carriers duke it out with system wide double mileage campaigns

What started out as a thank you to customers of Japan Airlines during their rough times and bankruptcy issues, has turned into a war between the country's two rivals.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank started it all with their JAL Mileage Project 2010. A way of saying thanks and of course to retain or gain new customers. The JAL Mileage Project 2010 is a great selection of promotions for members of JAL's Mileage Bank program. The primary promotion is Double Mileage Bank miles on all flights system wide including Vancouver-Tokyo with very few restrictions (ie International flights on JAL metal only, code-shares not applicable). The double mileage offer runs April 1-May 31

On top of this they are offering a First Flight bonus that again is pretty much available on all flights like above. This offer however is only for Flyon Status members and JAL Credit Card holders worldwide.

The next promotion is for also for Flyon Status members, whereby they will earn double status miles from April 1 to September 30

The final bonus offer is for JAL Credit Card holders only where they will earn 400 bonus Flyon (Status) points over above the double listed above.

Also included in JAL's promotion are discounted reward tickets for JAL Credit Card holders, and additional upgrade points or lounge coupons to Flyon status members.

For more details and to register for all these offers see this page on JAL's website

Of course, seeing that its primary competitor launched these promotions, there was nothing else to do ANA All Nippon then to launch their own campaign. While not as extensive as JAL's, ANA only wanted to match the most important part of JAL's offer, the double miles for flights systemwide. That is what ANA is offering, Double Mileage Club miles to all members who register for the offer. It also has similar restrictions in that International flights must be on ANA metal and not on partner airlines. Just like JAL's offer, ANA's promotion runs April 1 to May 31.

For more details on ANA's offer click here.

Now, the question that begs to be answered is: will non-Japanese airlines match the double mileage offers on at least their home country to Japan flights? We have not seen anything yet but if we do you will see it posted below as a comment (or if you do please post it below!).

Aeroplan Signs a Sweet Partnership with Nestlé

MONTREAL and TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Aeroplan today announced the signing of a multi-year agreement with Nestlé in Canada that will enable members to earn Aeroplan Miles on more than 60 Nestlé and Nestlé Purina PetCare products.

Starting March 1st, Aeroplan Members can accumulate up to 50 Aeroplan Miles on each participating product under the Ice Cream, Confectionery and Purina pet care categories including favourites such as: Nestlé Drumstick, Kit Kat Singles, Rolo Minis and Beneful brand dog food.

"We are pleased to welcome another well known and respected company to our expanding network of partners that includes more than 150 brands in the financial, retail and travel sectors," said Craig Landry, Senior Vice President, Commercial, Aeroplan. "This partnership marks a very significant step forward in Aeroplan's consumer packaged goods expansion strategy. Our existing consumer packaged goods program includes the popular PepsiCo Canada products and with the addition of Nestlé Canada members now have even more opportunities to earn miles with their daily purchases."

"For Nestlé, the partnership with Aeroplan is another way to provide our consumers with extra value with the addition of miles beyond a great-tasting product," says Sandra Martinez, President, Nestlé Confectionery. "We look forward to working with Aeroplan and to helping our consumers earn rewards."

To earn miles, members simply do the following:

1. Purchase a participating Nestlé product
2. Visit
3. Enter the unique PIN found on or inside participating product

Aeroplan Members will be able to earn even more miles through special Bonus offers and contests. To kick off the partnership, members will earn 50 Bonus Aeroplan Miles when they deposit their first Néstle-Aeroplan PIN.

For more information or for a list of participating products, please visit:

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express: A few more details

Starwood and American Express Canada have released a few more details on the new card after a small pre-launch party last night in Toronto (was invited but unfortunately I could not attend).

Here is what was sent out in an email:

* Receive 10,000 bonus Starpoints® — enough for up to three free nights.
* Earn 1 Starpoint for every CDN$1 in purchases charged to the Card.
* Receive a Free Weekend Night Award (category 1-4) when you reach CDN$40,000 in purchases on the Card each year.
* Earn Gold Preferred Guest status when you reach CDN$30,000 in purchases on the Card each year.
* Take advantage of many American Express Card membership benefits, including Front Of The Line®* access to some of the hottest events,5 plus a host of travel-related insurance benefits.
* Enjoy the flexibility to pay balances in full or over time.
* CDN$120 annual fee.

Before we only knew the sign-up bonus. Now with these details we can compare it with the previous MBNA SPG card. It was expected you would earn 1:1 on the new card, MBNA was 1 Starpoint for $2 but had bonuses to make it 1:1 for your first $30 in spending, so this card will earn more if you spend more the $30,000 per year, and of course at that level it will give you Gold Preferred Guest Status, this is the first elite level in the SPG program, which MBNA did not offer. Normally to reach Gold you need 10 separate qualifying Starwood stays or 25 qualifying nights. This Gold status will also earn you 3 Starpoints per dollar for Starwood stays versus the basic level of 2. It also provides with automatic room upgrades if they are available and 4pm late checkout where available.

The last benefit is the free weekend night award at $40,000 of spending, depending on which hotel you use this at, it can pay for your annual fee a couple times over. It is good for up to a category 4 hotel on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. Normally a Category 4 hotel runs 10,000 Starpoints for a free weekend night. To see a list of a current Category 4 hotels see here

The $120 annual fee may seem high to some potential cardholders, especially given the fact the the MBNA SPG card was free, but this fee is essentially placing this card in line with most of the premium reward cards in Canada like the Aerogold Visas, the RBC Avion etc.

Overall I think this card is a decent new offering to the Canadian market but for the $120 fee I would have liked to have seen it a bit more lucrative. Why? Well it may be tough for AMEX and SPG to pull people away from their Aerogolds and Avions and other reward cards that aren't tied into one program like the very popular TD Visas and Capital One MasterCards. However for those who can afford it or write it off, having both a Visa and an AMEX (like we always stress you should carry a Visa, a MasterCard and an AMEX) then the new SPG card is a great choice. Remember, you can covert Starpoints to airlines miles including Aeroplan and Starwood even gives 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points you redeem in one transaction, so to the Aeroplan mile lovers this card can even add more to their balances. Many of our readers and the media will ask me if I am going to switch to this card, honestly I don't know yet as I carry the AMEX Blue Sky and enjoy the no-fee option as AMEX is not my primary card for spending, at least at this point.

Where will this card end up in our second annual Top Credit Card ranking? Well since it lands in the hotel category, there still aren't many hotel cards in Canada and the MBNA SPG card was #1 last year and there is a good chance this card will take that spot unless the one other major hotel chain that is potentially looking at launching a card in Canada does so before we release our rankings. I am not a liberty to say which hotel chain it is but I can tell you it is a big one.

Applications for the new SPG card are still not being accepted but you can get on the email list to be notified when it will be available. Sign up here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where's the bonus? Air Canada Calgary-Tokyo

As I was updating my Aeroplan Bonus Opportunities page on Rewards Canada with the just released Aeroplan Bonus offers for the new Air Canada routes out of Toronto, it got me thinking, why isn't there an Aeroplan bonus for the new Calgary to Tokyo route? The route starts sooner then the new Toronto routes and has been public knowledge for sometime, so why no bonus? Most airlines tend to offer some sort of bonus when launching a new route to drum up business and pull customers from other airlines. In the past week alone I have posted offers from Air Canada, American, Jet Airways and more for bonus offers on new routes, but somehow the new YYC-NRT service does not have one.

Did Air Canada/Aeroplan forget?
Highly unlikely.

Is it possible bookings have been strong since the service was announced hence no requirement of a bonus?
This is definitely possible.

Could it be that the flight only operates three times weekly?
Also a possibility, whereby offering a bonus on a not so frequent route may not add much to the bottom line, as most travellers who this offer would appeal to are looking for flights that fit their schedule which could mean not using the direct flights and routing though YVR

Of course only Air Canada and Aeroplan know why they are not offering a route bonus on this new route.

Perhaps Air Canada may put something up though as the competition, Japan Airlines just launched a systemwide double mile offer, accelerated elite status and other offers as an apology to their Bankruptcy issues, so some travellers may just choose JAL out of YVR for their Japan flights. ANA has also matched JAL's double miles offer but that would mean transitting in the U.S. as the bonus is only applicable to ANA metal, but once again several potential travellers may opt for this type of routing to take advantage of the bonus miles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Air Canada to launch non stop Ottawa to Regina flights

Air Canada announced that they will launch non-stop flights between Regina and Ottawa beginning on May 17, 10 with same plane service to Montreal. The flights will be operated by Air Canada Jazz CRJ-705 aircraft.

Flight Timings:
Regina-Ottawa Dep 0655 Arr 1145
Ottawa-Regina Dep 1900 Arr 2025

Thursday, February 11, 2010

United introduces Miles and Money Awards

Don't have enough Mileage Plus miles to redeem for a flight? Now you can use your balance that is short plus some cash to book flights on United. Granted these flights come with some more restrictions then flights you buy outright with cash or miles. Still with these restrictions the Miles and Money Awards can be a very good option for people looking to use up their miles and for United to help lower the liability of the balance of miles held by Mileage Plus members.

Basically, with Miles and Money awards you book a round trip flight for fewer miles and make up the difference in cash. Miles and Money awards are currently only available on flights operated by United and United Express, all other partner airlines are not eligible. You must fly from your origin to destination direct (Connections OK, Stopovers not OK)

For full details please see United's Miles and Money Awards.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Air Canada reduces flights from Calgary/Edmonton to Western U.S.

The following Air Canada routes will be changing out of Calgary and Edmonton:
- Calgary to Los Angeles will drop to 2 flights per day from 3
- Edmonton to Los Angeles is gone
- Edmonton to Las Vegas is gone
- Calgary to San Francisco will drop to 1 flight per day from 2
- Calgary to San Diego is gone after initial reports had it going from AC mainline to AC Jazz
- Calgary to Phoenix is gone after initial reports had it running over the summer season on weekends.

There is always the possibility that the Las Vegas, Phoenix and/or San Diego routes will return for the winter season as those destinations rely more on Albertans trying to escape winter.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Delta adds routes out of Halifax

For the Summer 2010 season Delta Airlines will be adding service from Halifax to Detroit and New York La Guardia. Both flights launch on Apr 6 and will run once daily.

Flight Timings:
Halifax-Detroit Dep 0900 Arr 1102
Detroit-Halifax Dep 1745 Arr 2124

Halifax-New York LGA Dep 1536 Arr 1645
New York LGA-Halifax Dep 1145 Arr 1506

Source Airline Route Updates

Thursday, February 4, 2010

AeroMexico ends scheduled service to Canada

AeroMexico will be ending their short foray into the Canadian with all scheduled services ending on Apr 4. The Mexico City-Montreal route is already canceled and the last Toronto-Mexico City flight will operate on Apr 4, 10

Source: Airline Route Updates

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WestJet launching Montreal - Punta Cana service

Starting on May 1st, WestJet will offer 1x weekly service between Montreal and Punta Cana, Domincan Republic

Flight timings as follows:
YUL-PUJ Dep 0700 Arr 1120
PUJ-YUL Dep 1215 Arr 1646

Source: Airline Route Updates

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

AIR MILES Raising Redemption Rates for Flights

For the first time in five years the AIR MILES Rewards Miles program is raising the amount of miles required to redeem for flights with the programs partner airlines. According to AIR MILES the increases are due to increased operating costs that are necessary to continue to bring you more partners, choices, and destinations. The average increase in flight redemption rates is 8%, with some categories only increasing 4% while others will increase as much as 14%. The increases will come into effect on Feb 12, so if you were planning to book a flight with AIR MILES, do so before then to lock into the current redemption rates.

It does not come as a huge surprise though that they are raising the levels. With the increase AIR MILES may be banking on the fact that there will be less people redeeming for flights and more for merchandise or gift cards from their reward catalog. At this time approximately 8-9% of all AIR MILES redemptions are for flights, with this increase that number is sure to drop a bit more. (I am really curious to see what the number was 10 or 15 years ago, I would bet that it was a lot higher). Of course, what they don't tell you is that they would rather have you redeem for merchandise or those gift cards as it is well known in the loyalty industry that these items are a much better profit center then flights.

What is interesting is that for flights, most of AIR MILES competitors, that is frequent flyer programs (Aeroplan, Mileage Plan, etc) have not raised redemption levels in as many years as AIR MILES, they may have put on other restrictions like expiry dates and access to all seats or peak season seats for more miles, but the base redemption rates have not changed. Many of these restrictions like the expiry dates are easily avoidable and AIR MILES has always had higher redemption rates for peak season flights. These frequent flyer programs have also expanded their reward offerings to merchandise and gift cards. The program may be going out on a limb here with the increase as the only comparable increase recently was RBC Avion's long haul North America flight redemption increase last year.

Was this a smart move by AIR MILES? Not necessarily, they will definitely alienate some of their members but AIR MILES strength is in the number of shopping partners they have, no other program can match them and for some members they cannot justify a move to Aeroplan, AIR MILES primary competitor. However Aeroplan may actually benefit somewhat as the AIR MILES increase is starting to make its way into the press and on the Internet, many with readers comments leaning to the negative side. The other major impact AIR MILES may see with this increase, is that WestJet will launch their reward program very soon and the people who use AIR MILES primarily for travel may find the WestJet program more lucrative.

WIll AIR MILES continue to be successful? Absolutely, as stated above, flights only represent a small amount of the AIR MILES business, in fact the program probably shouldn't even be called AIR MILES anymore but the branding is there so why change? The sheer number of members, partners and redemption options will keep the AIR MILES program the success that it is, even if they raised the levels even higher on flights and on their merchandise catalog.

How will this play out? Much like when Aeroplan made the expiry issue in 2006, it will be in the press for a couple of weeks, people will be mad and claim they will change but in the end they will continue to use their program of choice as Canadians have an affinity for loyalty programs and find it hard not to collect points or miles on their everyday spending.

You can find all the details about the flight redemption increases on the AIR MILES Website. You are also encouraged to leave your comments on these changes below.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Air Canada to increase service to South America

Once again, thanks to Airline Route Updates for the info.

Air Canada is increasing service to Bogota, Caracas and Lima as follows:
Toronto – Bogota increases to 4 weekly from 3 as of May 31
Toronto – Caracas increase to 5 weekly from 4 weekly as of May 1, then goes daily from Jun 22 to Sep 2
Toronto – Lima goes to 4 flights per week as of Jun 3

Air Canada increases Tel Aviv flights to daily for Summer 2010

According to Airline Route Updates Air Canada is increasing flights between Toronto and Tel Aviv from 5 per week to daily service. The increase will run May 31 - Sep 16. As well the timings will change with the flight leaving 6 hours earlier from Toronto and 11 hours earlier from Tel Aviv.

Time to get back at it

You may have noticed no new posts or updates to over the past week or so, well we were on vacation. Now that we are tanned and back in YYC, look for the bonus updates, news, and other features to resume. Some things to look out for this coming week include Air Miles raising redemption rates for flights and lots of new or updated route news.

Check back frequently to keep up to date on all that is going on in Canada's Travel Rewards industry!

Porter Airlines to launch Toronto Island - Sudbury service

From the Porter Airlines press release

Porter Airlines heading north to Sudbury

Service begins March 31

TORONTO, Jan. 27 /CNW/ - Porter Airlines is introducing year-round flights between Sudbury and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, beginning March 31, with one daily non-stop roundtrip flight, and one-way fares starting at $99, plus taxes. Flights are now available for booking on, by calling 1-888-619-8622 or contacting a travel agent. Porter is the only carrier offering service between these two airports.

"Porter is pleased to expand our service to Sudbury, providing competition on the route, which ultimately benefits customers by reducing fares," said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. "Northern Ontario is an important region for us. We are experiencing great success in Thunder Bay, and are looking forward to a similar result in Sudbury."

Air Canada adds service to 7 U.S. cities from Toronto

From the Air Canada press release:

Air Canada expands service to seven more American cities; pursues growth strategy for Toronto hub
New flights fortify airline's position as the leading transborder carrier

MONTREAL, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Air Canada today announced new services for seven more American cities, fortifying its Toronto hub and strengthening its position as the leading transborder carrier with the most daily flights between Canada and the U.S. of any airline.

"This additional service to seven more U.S. cities further solidifies Air Canada's position as the leading transborder carrier between Canada and the U.S. and the Number One foreign carrier flying to the United States -- offering the most flights per day to more destinations in the U.S. than any other international airline," said Ben Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. "It also demonstrates our commitment to drive Toronto's growth as a hub. Air Canada is already the leading carrier at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Centralized in a single terminal, Air Canada's Toronto hub is the most convenient gateway to and from the U.S., offering multiple connection options for passengers travelling anywhere in our global network. Our strategy is to leverage our hub to make it a global transfer point for domestic, transborder and international travellers."

This spring, Air Canada will offer new daily service between Toronto and seven more American cities including: Orange County (Santa Ana) and San Diego, California; Portland, Oregon; Memphis, Tennessee; Cincinnati, Ohio; Portland, Maine; and Syracuse, New York. Flights will be non-stop and conveniently timed for connections with flights on Air Canada's extensive domestic and international network. Customers can earn and redeem Aeroplan miles on each route.