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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why I am still invested in Aeroplan

Aeroplan, one of Canada's longest running loyalty programs has been a mainstay program with many of us for as long as I can remember but now some are questioning if they should continue with the program. Personally, I am and have not changed my earning or burning habits. It has always proved useful for me when I use the program since it provides a different and more valuable experience than most other Canadian travel reward programs. That experience is the ability to redeem for business class and first-class flights on some of the best airlines in the business. Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, you name it all of these airlines have excellent business class and first-class products and you can fly them with Aeroplan. Pretty much every other Canadian travel rewards program doesn't give you that option or if they do, it’s not at the value that Aeroplan can provide it at. Redeeming for a $5,000 business class ticket to Europe will cost you 110,000 Aeroplan miles and if you achieved all those miles with a credit card means you would have spent anywhere from $55,000 to $110,000 to get those miles. Gaining the same flight through another program could easily cost you 2-4 times more than it would with Aeroplan. Now you see where the experience lies for members in Aeroplan's program.

That leads into my next reason why I am still invested in Aeroplan. The obvious and unsung benefits of the program. The obvious being the ability to get those premium class flights at a really decent value. The not as obvious are additional savings that can come with the program for items like last minute flights. From my personal experience Aeroplan can provide huge value in the last-minute realm. I had some relatives looking to fly from Regina to Calgary last minute and by last minute I mean booking at noon for a flight at 8pm that same day. To purchase the tickets that last-minute was extremely expensive but Aeroplan had availability with its Market Fare Rewards where we spent in the neighbourhood of 18,000 miles per person to get them the round-trip flights. To save literally a thousand extra dollars for the last-minute tickets with only an additional 3,000 Aeroplan miles per ticket was a huge unsung benefit to me and is something you won’t find you’d be able to with other programs that put in restrictions like booking 14 days out or having a fixed per dollar value redemption rate.

There are naysayers who say that Aeroplan will disappear in 2020. Those people either don't know are industry or even Aeroplan well enough. I have conducted numerous media interviews on the subject since it was announced in ... and I still believe strongly in what I said in those interviews. With over 5 million members Aeroplan will not and cannot simply close shop. The fact that the partnership with Air Canada will continue beyond 2020 is your first hint that Aeroplan won't be going anywhere. Secondly, Aeroplan has great relationships with the airlines that they are currently partnered with via Air Canada - namely Star Alliance airlines. Yes the press release states that Aeroplan will no longer have that relationship, and that is the relationship via Air Canada with those airlines. I have no doubt that Aeroplan is already in talks with many of these airlines in the Star Alliance to establish direct relationships. The reason why is that those airlines look to loyalty programs to help fill seats that otherwise might go empty. They'll sell those seats at a discount to Aeroplan rather then not selling them at all. Aeroplan with its 5 million members has bargaining power, they can easily sign a contract with airlines like Lufthansa, United and others and agree to buy a certain number of seats per month at great rates which then can be redeemed for by Aeroplan members. Its just like any corporation that has corporate contracts with these airlines except for the fact that Aeroplan is way bigger! Any partnership that Aeroplan negotiates and signs with an airline is a win-win for the both the loyalty program and the airline. Why wouldn't some of those Star Alliance airlines jump on board since Aeroplan already knows them and they know Aeroplan. It’s not like Aeroplan just opened shop. They have experience in the market working with these airlines for better part of three decades and the airlines know that.

Since am I still invested in Aeroplan here's what I would like to see the program do in the coming months and years. The minute a contract is signed with an airline and all the ducks are in a row let us know. Even if that partnership won't start until July 2020, don't leave us hanging. Give us some exciting news to go on. Heck it would be good for Aeroplan to do so as it may just mean you'll have a member who will have no reason to jump ship to another program and will continue to earn and burn with Aeroplan and in fact may become even more engaged in the program. I'd like to see even more partners come on board for earning and Aeroplan will need to do this to keep the strength of the program going. And by partners I don't just mean airlines but hotels, retail, restaurants, you name it. The program needs this to curtail any potential erosion to other coalition programs that are trying to grow in Canada seeing that Aeroplan, come 2020, will only be a coalition program not a coalition/frequent flyer program. Finally come 2020, Aeroplan needs to keep the premium class redemption options on Air Canada and any other partner airlines they add by that time. If they lose that option then they are at a level playing field with the other Canadian coalition programs and credit card programs.

As always, we'd love to hear from you and what your plans are with Aeroplan. Are you still using it as your primary program and if so what is making you stay invested in the program?

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