Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Redemption Stories The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Aeroplan Summary

I asked and you responded. Welcome to the summary of Rewards Canada's latest Redemption Stories: The Good The Bad and The Ugly. For this go around we went back to Aeroplan after they were spotlighted on CBC about the miles being difficult to redeem. Our readers definitely spoke out once again! Surprisingly to me there weren't as many 'Ugly' incidents as I thought there would be based on the number of complaints I receive but the balance of responses do fall into the 'Bad' category. Of course these are categorized by me, so what I think may be 'Ugly', could just be 'Bad' to someone else or vice-versa, either way I hope this post helps shed some light on Aeroplan redemptions.

Redemption Stories The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Aeroplan Summary from 2012
Redemption Stories The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Air Miles Summary from 2012

Some interesting notes from these comments tell us how some like to work stopovers and layovers into their Aeroplan award tickets while we see others who have had success with Aeroplan in the past but not so much anymore, others who have more success with AIR MILES and we do see a few people dumping their Aeroplan co-brand credit cards for other credit cards.

I would love to hear more comments and stories from Aeroplan members, feel free to do so at the bottom of this post and finally I want to thank everyone who contributed their stories, without you this post would not be possible!

The Good

Jerry H via the blog
have too much Aeroplan miles now to give up on it, but it did get harder and harder to use since 2010 with all the devaluation (Mini-RTW in J from 100K to 125K and now 150K) and generous CC signups

If used correctly and one's flexible enough, Aeroplan is still very valuable for 2+ CPM return, and bonus for ME is the weird routing I can do and stopovers/layovers (impossible on cash fare)

The game is getting tougher to play, one has to adapt and play it well to come out ahead, and occasionally get in on the rare Aeroplan mistakes (I booked YYZ-IST in TK J for 50K miles only vs. 105K during the 4-hour Halloween glitch) to top it off
Steve F via the blog
The good AND the bad. I'm a football fanatic, I've attended 7 World Cups now and often use points to make the dream a reality. Last year heading to Brazil (from Victoria BC) and wanting to be in business class I successfully booked a full 12 months in advance (approx June 2013) A wonderful trip, except for the 11 hour layover in Toronto! Really Aeroplan? 135,000 in points and a 11 hour layover??

Charles K. via email
We were able to book business class tickets on Air Canada partners before the points were devalued (need more miles for same trip) and into Singapore, instead of our destination, Kuala Lumpur (~350 KM away) and saved ~50,000 points by booking early and not going directly to destination. Taxes/service were ~$80 by going with partners,and flew FireFly for ~$50 between KL & Singapore.

Otherwise,  I have only negative stories on points usage to fly into Europe.
Randy M via email
Like many other long time Aeroplan members, I have learned one must plan ahead to be able to book the flights for your dream trip. Where possible we book 11 months ahead but have found that booking 5 months ahead has worked for us too. We have been able to book 5 round trips with Aeroplan, including one to India, Bali and return to Victoria. So overall, our experience has been positive and we have been very fortunate to be able to book well in advance as mentioned earlier. We have also found that using/paying the Aeroplan agent is worthwhile for example that is how we arranged our stopover in Bali on our return from India in 2014. In 2015 Aeroplan is taking us to Greece and those Aeroplan miles make our trips affordable.
The Bad

C and T via the blog
"My husband and I have been to New Zealand four times in Business Class using Aeroplan Points. I have been saving up points to go again in 2016, but I have been looking at the flight possibilities online recently. Whereas Aeroplan used to give me many options for getting to New Zealand, now the only thing they offer is flying Air Canada to Sydney and Air New Zealand to Auckland. Even if I try going from LA, the flight goes to Sydney and then Auckland. The only availability seems to be in Economy and even then, the taxes and fees for two people are as much as a flight for one of us on Air New Zealand Vancouver to Auckland. I got an Amex Gold Rewards card, but if I transfer points to Aeroplan, they aren't Distinction miles. If I use Amex Rewards points, I need over a million points to get my Business Class tickets with Air New Zealand. That is why Aeroplan should in theory be the program of choice, but there are no tickets available. We are going to give up our TD Visas before I have to pay my yearly renewal fee, as there seems little point in collecting Aeroplan points. I can use my BMO Mastercard for no fee whenever my Amex card is not taken. I do collect Air Miles, but you can't get Business class with it. And that program has changed too, requiring different amounts of miles with different airlines. Plus ca change, as they say."

Hubert P. via email
What a joke!
You experience the non available dates you request both way. When you finally book, the extra charges are more than a special on AC regular flights.
Having purchased 2 return trips to Switzerland, I tried to up-grade using my Aeroplan points. NO, since I purchased my fares.
In March 2015, requested a flight on points from New Brunswick to Montreal for June. No seats available! I then checked the availability on AC web page, with 80% of seats unoccupied for my requested dates. I called Air Miles and without problems, booked my dates with cheaper extra charges.
Same month, tried to book 2 return flights to Nwwark, NJ, for Aug.28th. Unable to get the dates chosen. However by using the market technique, those dates became available!
The following morning I cancelled my TD  Infinite Aeroplan card for a TD Infinite First Class!
I would rather pay my fares rather than be frustrated every time I need to travel!

Lia A. via the blog
I just came back from a 9-day trip to Naples and the Campania Region. I booked my flight during March Break last Sept. Re-booked in October via Istanbul (instead of Vienna & Rome), paid 750 dollars in 'taxes'; a month later AC had the direct flight to Naples for a total $900 (and the taxes were listed as $150)! My return was via Munich and London: something like 20 hrs and 3 security screenings. The Best Western Naples hotel was in a dump area. I cancelled my TD card. Will stay with CIBC card for a while even if adding points will be very slow; the hotels I booked with this card were excellent and cost a lot less points than with Aeroplan card. Besides, the Star Alliance does not have good companies so I'll rather buy my ticket with a different sort of network (like AF/KL M/Delta for example). This recent trip was my 1st time booking hotels.

Kmtluna via email
We booked two tickets round trip, Calgary to Frankfurt, Business Class, and paid substantially more in points to do so.  They could not “guarantee” that we would get Business Class, even though we paid the points for Business Class.  We would only get BC seats if they were available at the time of the flight.  Coming back from Frankfurt, we walked through the BC to Economy, and could see that there were very few people in the BC section.  I immediately went to the Purser who said he could do nothing, I would have to go back inside and speak to the AC agent there.  When I went back inside, they were very snotty and said I should have checked much earlier.  They knew we had already paid the points for the Business Class seats, and they should have advised us that seats were available, but they did not.

Also, the Black and other levels you can earn depending on the dollars spent on your Aeroplan Credit Card.  They say in all the advert that you “can earn until December 31st” – but that is not true, as it depends on the statement date of your credit card, and sometimes purchases made in November will not get credited to your mileage status.

Aeroplan advertises and promotes, but then does not give sufficient detail for the consumer to be able to plan effectively and maximize their benefit.

Ginny via email
We have bee saving Aeroplan miles and using them for years.  In fact we have travelled to New Zealand from Toronto 3 times with one coming up in 2016. Shorter journey have been made as well.   Generally the service has been pretty good with as with any company some excellent service people.  However we have decided to switch to a more flexible card as of this month.  I am retired so can spend hours on the computer fighting the system.  The last straw was that we couldn't find tickets we wanted Toronto to Auckland, business class but they would not be bookable (because of time shifting) until Midnight.  I stayed up to book the tickets for about 7 consecutive nights trying again for the next day but someone else took the tickets before I could.  There is no possibility of talking to a person because the phones are not staffed at that time.  We have tickets almost a year in advance for next year via New York and Seoul to Sydney then Auckland.  Since I started checking for both Economy and Business seats for seats in February there has never been a seat available to Auckland.  I found one online just Sydney to Auckland and an agent changed our booking for $90.00 each to add this flight.  In the past we have been willing to take unreasonable waits in airports because the choices available from Aeroplan (once waiting over 12 hours to transfer to the next plane).
This was the last straw and we have changed to another bank card which allows the use of any airline and any routing.  We will use our remaining Aeroplan miles for shorter flights and look forward to a more flexible travelling life.

Paul L via the blog 
Aeroplan has mostly lived up to expectations and allowed us to take many discounted trips with the kids when they were pre-schoolers. However since they've been in school it has been near impossible to find flights during school breaks. Often we have have had to leave early and return late, which has the bonus of a longer vacation but everything you save on flights you end up spending on additional nights of hotels; not to mention frustrating some teachers and principals who don't appreciate when the kids miss school. The last straw for us with Aeroplan was when they started occasionally charging a 54$ Carrier Surcharge on Air Canada flights and sometimes ridiculously high taxes, ie 670$ pp for flights to Venice! I cancelled our Amex Aeroplan Platinum 3 years ago and we are now straight 2% Cash Backers with MBNA World Elite MC.
Frank via email
No refund changes, 5 minutes after booking!

I was booking a flight from Toronto to Las Vegas on Aeroplan points one way.  Forget the expensive taxes $120 plus 12.5k points.  The booking engine didn't make it clear that an 08:00 flight was 8 am - it doesn't say AM!  You need to have figured that out on your own.  If there are no comparison flights on the screen past noon it's hard to notice since there's no 13:00 plus flights.

Only after booking does it tell you AM.  As soon as I booked I called realizing my mistake.  After only 5 minutes had gone by for a flight that wouldn't take place for 6 more months Aeroplan told me that changing to the 8 pm flight or 20:00 o'clock would cost me a $90 change fee.   Only 5 minutes had gone by!


Aeroman380 via the blog
I was just looking at using points to go from YYZ to Hawaii and it is 45k ap return in Y this summer + Taxes. Then I looked up how much a return ticket from yyz to ogg/hnl is and it is only 600$cad! Why would I use points and pay high taxes that are about the same as a fare ticket?

Buzz B LocalPony.com via email
The problems are simple, Aeroplan markets flights available at low mileage, but those flight selections are very limited. If you want a flight that suits "reasonable travel times", you will pay a premium.

Case in point: Wife wants to fly YYC-YVR for her high school reunion. That's marketed as a 15k point flight. Except all the flights are 6am ish. Want to fly mid afternoon that's going to cost you double.

I'm trying to fly to IAD for a conference next February, and have been checking daily to try and snag a ticket the first day the window opened to book for February 21.

Guess what? No seats. None. Zero. Even in the higher reward zones. This despite there being a number of flight options via Air Canada codeshare partners.

These last two flights will clean out my account. From then on it's Aventura or Avion. A chance to use points as discount dollars, a chance to find a good sale fare and have a better selection of flight options.

I've been an Aeroplan member my entire life, and now I'm letting it lapse.

The Ugly

Lee Barker via the blog
The day after receiving an email notifying me I was a million mile Aeroplan member and could never go below Elite 50K status again I was refused entry into the Maple Leaf Lounge at Pearson because I did not have the new card . I showed the email to two ladies at the desk and they both refused me entry saying I could not come in without the card which obviously was in the mail -- One of these women also made the comment when I explained the number of points I had accumulated on Aeroplan flying on Air Canada that "those are only points they don't mean anything for Air Canada you can get them on credit cards "-- I was clearly disgusted with this type of attitude and service and sent a message to Aeroplan but of course I never received a response.

On March 23 2015 I missed a flight to Hong Kong at Pearson and tried to get priority assistance to re-book a flight to Shanghai and on to HK --I was told by the Air Canada check in Official at the Elite counter that I had to go to the regular ticketing counter and their was no priority booking system available -- I found this unbelievable -- I waited for over 35 minutes in the lineup (only two Air Canada personnel were servicing at least 30 passengers in line. I finally gave up and used my cell phone to book a flight myself online - after which I proceeded back to the priority check in counter and checked in. This kind of treatment of business passengers who have supported AC for over 45 years and accumulated over a million miles on AC flights is intolerable and AC staff should be properly educated in how to treat their most loyal supporters.

Bob G via email
1.      My wife and I would like to plan a trip to Hawaii, January to February, 2015 and I have tried to book our travel 356 days in advance.

On the 356th day, I was able to secure only one Executive seat (YVR – HON) for my wife and had to book an Economy seat for myself.  I was told that I would “have to check daily” to see when and if additional Executive became available.  I was also told that there is “no wait listing”.  Every day I needed to check and finally was able to secure an Executive seat for myself, after paying the $90.00 change fee as I was forced to change as seats were not available.
While I was hopefully waiting for a second Executive to become available on the  flight that my wife was one, I did find one seat available but the routing was Cranbrook / Calgary (Executive) / Winnipeg (overnight), then Vancouver (Economy) then Honolulu (Executive).  Does this make any sense????
On the return flights, there was again, one seat in Executive and one in Economy (February 16th) again 356 days in advance, but was not able to book as travelling onward to Cranbrook, on the 17th (which was outside the 356 day limit).  I could have booked both seats and then paid the $90.00 each fee the next day for the travel to Cranbrook, and again monitored each day to see if additional Executive seats became available and then pay an additional $90.00 for the upgrade which I choose not to do.  This rebooking fee (when seats are initially not available) certainly seems to be a great rip-off.   Why cannot Aeroplan have a wait-list??
I set my alarm and got up and online as soon as the Montreal office opened but the one Executive seat available the previous day (HON – YVR) was “no longer available”.
This is extremely frustrating in having a lack of seats 356 days in advance and so I am seriously reconsidering continuing my membership with Aeroplan.  What is the sense of collecting points (I have over 450,000 miles and my wife currently has about 50,000)?
2.      Aeroplan insists that you take the “next flight out” which is very ridiculous, I believe.  This means that arriving in an international airport late at night, then getting up at 4:00 AM for the “next flight out” only to wait at a connecting airport 6 hours for the “next flight out” to my home airport.  I would have preferred to sleep later, take a decent connecting flight to then arrive at my home airport.

3.      Aeroplan also charges higher taxes than paying for the same flight, same date, and same destination.  It is very easy to check and then feel disgusted.  For trips to Europe, the trick is to get on flights operated by Swiss or United. I arbitrarily chose some dates in June 2014 to test this on. Flying on the default choices that Aeroplan.com suggested had me paying $646 in taxes and fees.  Forcing the flights to choose Swiss Air flights reduces the fees from $646 to $188 per person for the same route.

A friend is flying from Toronto to Glasgow.  If she flew Air Canada she would have to pay over $1,000.00 in taxes, however, she is flying to Newark and then on to Glasgow and will pay $265.00 in Taxes.

4.      One is charged full points when flying in Executive, even if, on a 14 hour trip, with four segments, only one segment is in Executive (2.5 hours).  Again, they are inflexible with this.

5.      The routing is very ridiculous…  Vancouver to Edmonton to Denver to San Francisco to Kona.   Or, Calgary to Edmonton to Vancouver to San Francisco.

On a recent search, traveling from Vancouver to Cranbrook, one routing was Vancouver to Kelowna, with a wait of 9 hours, then to Calgary, (overnight) then to Cranbrook….  A time of 27 hours.  The direct flight to Cranbrook is 90 minutes.

6.      When one is flying Executive Class, using Aeroplan points, one is sometimes transferred to the low cost Rouge subsidiary of Air Canada, and still charged the regular Aeroplan points for Executive.  Seats in “Premium” in Rouge not as shown on the advertising nor are the meals or service anything close to what is available on Air Canada “Executive”. Advertising tells one about the on board entertainment suiting "all your go too gadgets".....what they fail to tell you is that only Apple is supported....forget Android completely!!!  Rouge has also received a very poor reputation in just a few months of “servicing” Western Canada.  It should be avoided at all costs but Aeroplan gives one no other alternative.

7.      Writing to Aeroplan, one gets a form letter that indicates that they really do not care nor read what has been sent.  I was told to “book 356 days in advance to get the best available seats”, (when that is what I complained about) then I was told that “Air Canada only releases seats throughout the year”.  Also, the form letter did not address any of my issues.  Even writing a personal letter to executives in the Vancouver and Montreal offices did not rate a response.

8.      Finally the “Classic Plus” is an insult to any clear-thinking individual.  Why would anyone pay over 400,000 points for a 15,000 ticket?

Any suggestions as to getting and travel value from this card would be greatly appreciated.  Aeroplan has been a total joke in the last decade.

I will be looking for another travel card ASAP.
RightOn via the blog
Well two years running I have tried to use Aeroplan to either Cancun or Dominican Republic from Ottawa during a shoulder season of October or November. Bad news! This 4 hour flight was available for 40,000 points per person for a 14 hour one way flight with 1 or 2 stop overs. The return was even better (haha) at 15 hours. This year 15 hours and 16 hours are available to either location. Thought I might use my distinction benefits and for 47,500 one way and 49,000 return I can also get there in 16 hours and 18 hours. What kind of joke is that? Last year, we were fortunate to have enough Air Miles for my wife and I to fly round trip with a direct flight there (4 hours) and a one stop in Toronto for a 6 hours total trip return for 4400 points each plus $438.00 taxes and fees. Great!. This year Air Miles has the Aeroplan times and the Air Miles is not 4400 but 5800 miles. Takes a decade to earn that many points for two with Air Miles. Same applies to Nassau.

Not only is that disgusting, this month we tried to book a flight from Montreal to St. John's Newfoundland and we cannot get there with a classic fare unless we wait 10 hours in Halifax. Our return would be 8 hours for a 3 hour flight. For this "free" flight we would have to pay $396.00 for two for taxes and fees! I looked up the taxes and fees and all are acceptable except the carrier fuel charge of $54 per person. Did Air Canada forget that oil has dropped by more than half price and the surcharge is another money grab and was only warranted with the per barrel cost of $110 or so. At less than half of that, this charge should be dropped. Time for consumer protection to kick in. And I am an Air Canada shareholder but that is a rip off!
Response on the blog to the above story
Master Nerd via the blog
Those flights to Cancun/Dominican certainly suck. Regarding the fuel surcharges, it's not quite so simple. The problem is that even though oil prices have dropped, so has the Canadian dollar. Jet fuel is predominantly purchased from the US in USD, and is paid for months in advanced. So really, any savings they are getting are largely a wash with the weak Canadian dollar and the long term time-scales of purchasing jet fuel. WestJet is feeling the same pinch as well. On the flip side, US airlines should be raking it as long as their dollar is strong and oil is cheap. Strangely, I've noticed that you can save a little money if you book AC codeshare flights on the United website, even if they're all on AC metal.

Happy travels!

Craig R. via email
I have a ton of Aeroplan points I have been trying to burn. I recently had to travel to Vancouver, and thought here’s a chance. Not quite. I could book a direct flight from Toronto to Vancouver no problem, in fact I had several direct flights to choose from. But when it came time to book the return trip, the only options between Vancouver and Toronto involved an overnight stop in Regina.  So I changed my travel dates and … same thing. I even went as far as to change the travel dates by six months – that gave me a choice of over nighting in Regina, or Saskatoon. No direct flights home, regardless of what I did. That is just plain stupid.

Had another business trip come up – Amsterdam this time. So I looked at Toronto to Amsterdam routings, all of which involved a stop someplace so even the shortest travel time was over 10 hours. An economy seat is 60,000 points return. Then by the time you pay all of the fees, taxes, surcharges and other costs that Aeroplan never really talks about, it turned out my “free” flight was going to cost me almost $700. At the time, a direct flight on KLM cost $825, all-in, and took two hours less. Talk about a no-brainer. 

Tried looking at the same trip in business class. With all the fees, the Aeroplan booking would cost me 90,000 points and about $1,400 – far less than the $4,000 to buy a business class seat outright. But then you look closer, and it turns out that the only time you’re actually in a business class seat is on the short connecting flights – in every single instance, the long trans-Atlantic leg was in economy!!! The default routing took me from Toronto to Washington Dulles supposedly in business, then from Dulles to Amsterdam in economy. All flights on United. So I checked United’s website and found the aircraft used on the Toronto – Dulles leg doesn’t even have a business class cabin. So why is Aeroplan charging me for business class when I would have been in economy the whole way?  That is just plain deceptive.

One more example - I needed to fly to Rome. I could do it in economy for 60,000 Aeroplan points and about $700 in fees, but every option involved a horrid connection. Looked at Market Value flights and they have direct flights – yay! Then I see the direct route would have cost me 600,000 points, not 60,000. You have to be kidding me!!!!  At the end of the day, I paid cash for a direct flight on another airline. 

How they get away with false advertising and insane hidden fees without going to jail is beyond me.

Victor S. via email
I have been an Aeroplan member for more than 20 years and have been booking business class seats for about 8 years now down to the same location in the Caribbean with no problems until this year. About 9 years ago, I was told by a Aeroplan representative that to get tickets in high demand times, like March break, booking 1 year in advance would be the best chance to get the seats. This is what I have been doing- waiting as soon as the flight becomes available shortly after midnight almost 1 year in advance. I did not have any problems until this year when I tried to book for March 2016 for a direct flight from Toronto to the same location. I actually thought I had two business class seats as I was at the booking screen but when I clicked on book, a message came up that the Itinerary was no longer available. I tried several other days and received the same message. I called Aeroplan and spoke to a supervisor and a couple of days later to their customer complaints group and received the same story that they couldn't help as they do not control when Air Canada makes the seats available. They could also not explain why it appeared tickets were available only for the tickets to be pulled at the last second. I told them that I did not have issues in the past and whether they could call Air Canada and ask them what had changed after all these years- they refused to do so. What a poor customer service. I told them that I would be looking at other rewards programs like the WestJet program and whether I should be keeping my Amex Aeroplan plus platinum card. Honestly they could care less. Well since then, I have enrolled with WestJet rewards program and now waiting for my RBC World Elite MasterCard to be sent to me. Aeroplan should care a little more as there are other alternatives in the market and the credit card companies that provide affiliated cards like AMEX, TD and CIBC should care because some of these cards have large annual fees. Maybe if these credit card companies put some pressure on Aeroplan, Aeroplan would be having serious discussions with Air Canada to stop playing games with the availability of business class seats. I had to use 240,000 Aeroplan points for 2 business class seats for 2016 with the Market fare program (and that was with a 35% discount given I am a d Diamond distinction member) instead of the normal 120,000 points using Classic Flight.

I think the government should investigate whether Air Canada and Aeroplan are in collusion to get customers to use more points than should be required under ClassicFlight, given what appears to be a change in seats becoming available, as they both have a vested interest in devaluing the points.

And we were fortunate enough to receive a response from Aeroplan:

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for letting us take the opportunity to respond to the member stories you’ve received. We always listen to our members and try to make improvements based on their feedback. In fact, we used a lot of member feedback to make major changes last year. I have shared all of the comments with my team and we’ll be looking at each closely to better understand what matters most to our members and where improvements can be made.

Before I answer, I wanted to take a moment to touch on how the more recent changes will help members get the most out of the program.

Essentially, Aeroplan provides a combination of great value and availability through two complementary flight reward options; ClassicFlight Rewards and Market Fare Flight Rewards.

ClassicFlight Rewards are seats on Air Canada and over 25 Star Alliance airlines, exclusively offered in Canada to Aeroplan Members at fixed mileage levels. No other program offers this kind of value.

Based on member feedback, last year we launched Market Fare Flight Rewards to offer access to any seat at any time on all Air Canada flights at mileage levels that vary based on market fares at the time of booking. So when flights are all booked on Classic, members can also look for seats through our Market Fare Flight Rewards.

And, top accumulating Aeroplan Members have access to reduced mileage levels of up to 35% on Market Fare Flight Rewards in addition to bonus mile offers and exclusive privileges.

I’m really proud to say that last year alone, our members redeemed for 1.9 million flights. More people than ever were able to find what they were looking for. In fact, Aeroplan puts more people in more reward seats than any other loyalty program in Canada.

But we know we have a ways to go and things to improve. We aren’t done. We want to have better support and solutions for our members and we continue to work on that.

There were a few themes in the comments received and I’ve addressed them below.

Layovers – We show members all routes that we have in our system. While some flights may have a longer connection time or a layover, we want to let our customers decide what works for them. Some of our members enjoy a longer layover to be able to tour another city and some don’t want to have to rush between connecting flights. If you aren’t finding an ideal flight on our exclusive ClassicFlight Rewards, a good option is to check out our Market Fare Flight Rewards, which offer access to any seat at any time on all Air Canada flights – these might have the flights you’re looking for.

We know it’s new and we have to work harder explaining Market Fare Flight Rewards but its great value and more schedule options for our members. It may not be as great a deal as Classic but it provides access to every seat on every flight for Air Canada routes.

Availability – To help members find the flights they’re looking for, we introduced Market Fare Flight Rewards – this means that if there is a seat available on any Air Canada flight, it is available for you to book using your Aeroplan Miles. (Distinction members also enjoy reductions of up to 35% on every seat, every day.)

Our members also have access to Star Alliance flights (Star Alliance is a network of 27 member airlines with more than 18,000 daily flights to more than 1,300 destinations in 193 countries)

Our inventory (seats) get loaded into our system throughout the course of the year. There are often a number of seats that get loaded within the last month before a travel date. If a member checks 100 days out and there isn’t anything, it doesn’t mean there is never anything - It just means members might have hit that window where inventory hasn’t been loaded by the airline yet. That’s why we always encourage members to check back online at aeroplan.com where it’s easy to look up.

One-way travel – Based on our member feedback, last year, mileage levels for one-way flight rewards decreased and require only 50% of the miles needed for a round-trip flight to give members more flexibility with their flight rewards. We’ve received great feedback as a result of this change.

Business Class - Aeroplan’s flight rewards, especially Business Class and First Class are still amongst the best value in the industry. It’s very popular so we recognize it’s sometimes harder to get the exact seats you want. Another option to consider is Premium Economy seats. Aeroplan Members can now also use their miles for the Premium Economy cabin on applicable Air Canada flights when booking flight rewards. Most other programs really don’t provide this at all so it’s a great feature for our members that they can’t get elsewhere.

Surcharges – Just like every Canadian loyalty program, Aeroplan does not determine the carrier surcharge: the amount is determined by each airline carrier individually and varies based on their own costs, destination, cabin type and other variables.

All major loyalty programs in Canada are required to collect carrier-imposed surcharges. Aeroplan only applies these surcharges where applicable on behalf of our airline partners. 100 per cent of the surcharges applied are passed directly to Air Canada. Similar to all other loyalty programs in Canada, the carrier surcharge for all Aeroplan Flight Rewards on International itineraries is the same as the surcharge that Air Canada collects on all of their revenue tickets purchased by customers. The only difference is that airlines embed the charge into their airfare whereas it’s identified separately in an Aeroplan flight reward booking.

- All rewards may be booked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via aeroplan.com. If you have questions or a more complex route, members can call Aeroplan’s Contact Centre at 1-800-361-5373 from 7am until midnight ET. We also have a special section on Aeroplan.com designed to assist members with answers to frequently asked questions that can be found here.
Thanks to everyone who shared feedback. We remain committed to listening to our members and making ongoing enhancements to the program.

John Boynton, Aeroplan’s Chief Marketing Officer

Thanks to everyone who submitted their stories, thanks to Aeroplan's John Boynton for providing a response and the stories whether they are good, bad or ugly don't have to stop here. Feel free to comment below with your stories if they weren't included in the above!

Here are a few of Rewards Canada's Aeroplan Resources:


  1. Ha, Aeroplan.com is NOT 24/7 365 days as it's down every night for "routine maintenance" on their "always broken system" which always had its problems and AP will not waive call-in fee of $30 even with known issues. That shows lack of customer service, since even BA waives fees for known limitations (not able to book Alaska/TAM with Avios, for example)

    Don't even get us started on the fuel surcharges..... AP is worse than BA as well
    "we are collecting on behalf of airlines", right... how come the same airlines (LH, TG, NH, and even AC itself) don't charge UA Mileage Plus any YQ/fees?

  2. I am an experienced traveller and have been a loyal Aeroplan and air miles member since 1985 and 1992 respectively. Aeroplan has fallen down the ladder in reasonable useability a number of times. I tried booking Cancun from Ottawa as well as both Puerto Plata and Punta Cana from Ottawa for two years and a year in advance in each case. Since I am retired I can check everyday but what frustration. Only thing available, 14 hours one way and 14 or 15 hours return for both destinations and the flight is 4 hours direct. Ridiculous. I did have enough air miles and went to Cancun one way direct with West Jet and the other with one reasonable stop over for a 6 hour trip. Air Miles won that battle. Still having the same issues this year for both Dominican Rep and Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. Seems like air Canada gives left overs they know they can't sell. Oh and the crowning issue? Flights I have booked have a fuel charge added that means the two "free" tickets except taxes are now buy one get one free. That was understandable when oil prices jumped to record highs but not acceptable when the prices later were chopped in half. Fuel surcharge still exists for many flights in these two programs. The BMO of Amex Gold card card seems to be a less stressful and easier to use and we now have those two and making better choices. I did cancel my TD Visa infinte card at renewal date.They don't deserve my business.

  3. It's pretty naive by Frank to say "it doesn't say "AM"". Airline schedules are in military time which does not have AM/PM.
    In regards to booking, it's a joke with Aeroplan, unless you have the luxury to book a full year in advance which some of us simply don't have, you are basically out of luck. I'll be looking very soon at alternatives to AP. This program has run its course and has become rather unattractive.

  4. Its not always the case with airlines using the 24 hour clock. WestJet is one example that uses AM/PM when booking their flights!

  5. Oops....I never paid attention to that when booking WJ, thank you for pointing that out, however if the am/pm system is used it will say am or pm after the time, otherwise it would be smart to presume it's military time.