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Friday, May 22, 2020

Air Canada announces summer flight schedule and updates booking policy allowing cancelled tickets/vouchers to be converted to Aeroplan Miles


Air Canada made a major announcement today that provides details on the summer flight schedule and further changes to their flight booking & cancellation policy.  We covered some of the schedule plans yesterday in our daily update but today's announcement provides even more details. The airline is moving in a positive direction with the addition of more flights but do remember schedules are very fluid right now and being adjusted on a very frequent basis so these are subject to change. In terms of the re-booking and cancellation policy flights booked up to June 30 can be changed without fees and if you choose to cancel your flight (and it's a non-refundable fare type) you can choose to take a voucher which no longer have any expiry date or take Aeroplan miles with a 65% bonus.

Here are the excerpts from Air Canada's press release:

Summer Schedule:
Due to COVID-19, Air Canada has had to abridge its selling schedule for summer 2020, with 97 destinations down from 220 last year, which nonetheless offers wide opportunities for travel and connectivity. Within Canada, the schedule will increase from 34 routes in May to 58 routes in June, with more routes added in August and September.  Air Canada has also updated its schedule until the end of July with resumption of some services to the U.S., Caribbean, South American, European and Pacific markets.
As part of the new schedule, in accordance with provisions for air travel to the U.S. for Canadians, Air Canada will resume service to the U.S. on May 22, with six destinations being served by May 25, including New York-LaGuardia, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. This is a reduction from 53 U.S. destinations served last year. There are tentative plans to resume more U.S. service as of June 22, pending regulatory changes and demand. For information on travel to the U.S. please see https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1596?language=en_US
Internationally, Air Canada will continue to operate from its major hubs to key global destinations in June. This includes service from Toronto to Frankfurt, London, Zurich, Tokyo and Tel Aviv; from Montreal to Frankfurt, London, Paris and Brussels; and from Vancouver to London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul.
International services will expand further starting in June and early July, including: Montreal to Athens, Rome, Geneva; Toronto to Munich, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Rome and Athens; Calgary to Frankfurt; and, subject to government approval, Vancouver to Shanghai.

 Updated booking and cancellation policies:
Under a revised goodwill policy, new bookings made up to June 30, 2020 can be changed without fees for original travel between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
In cases where Air Canada cancels flights due to COVID-19, customers with refundable tickets will continue to have the option of refunds. Since January 1, 2020, Air Canada has refunded nearly $1 billion to customers.  Both customers with refundable and non-refundable tickets will have two new options to choose from:
  • An Air Canada Travel Voucher for the remaining value of their ticket that has no expiry date, is fully transferable and retains any residual value or;
  • The ability to convert the remaining value of their ticket into Aeroplan Miles, with 65 per cent more value versus the normal rate for buying Miles.
For voluntary changes, customers with refundable tickets will continue to have the option of refunds or the above new options. For Air Canada customers with non-refundable tickets making voluntary changes on tickets issued up to June 30, 2020, with an original travel date between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 inclusive, they have the option to choose from the two above new options of an Air Canada Travel Voucher or Aeroplan Miles.

The new goodwill policies and cancellation options are retroactive for customers with original travel between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Customers whose flights have been cancelled due to the impacts of COVID-19 and who have already received travel credit valid for 24 months, will be able to select one of the applicable options depending on their fare at aircanada.com beginning June 15, 2020. Customers with Aeroplan Flight Rewards can continue to cancel their redemption bookings free of charge through June 30, 2020. 

The two key changes in the booking and cancellation policies see Air Canada Travel Vouchers move from a 2 year lifespan to having no expiry date, being fully transferable and you can retain unused value for further future travel. The other change is now having the option of having your flight value being converted to Aeroplan Miles along with 65% more value. Now the wording around the Aeroplan miles option is a bit confusing. From the press release it states 65 per cent more value versus the normal rate for buying Miles which leads me to believe when you convert the ticket value to miles they are taking the standard buy miles price as the value of your miles plus 65%. For example if you have a ticket that cost $300 before taxes and fees the equivalent amount of miles would be 10,000 as $300 would buy that amount. Then you would get the 65% extra above that meaning your $300 ticket would net you 16,500 miles.  However on the actual webpage Air Canada has for this option it doesn't mention anything about 'buy miles' value rather just it states:
"Convert and transfer the remaining value of all tickets and associated services in a booking, minus any taxes, into Aeroplan Miles, and get an additional 65% bonus miles." So does this mean you would get the equivalent miles of your said flight if it was an Aeroplan redemption? For example if you have a North America long haul economy class flights do you get the Classic Flight amount of 25,000 miles + 65%? I have a feeling it is the first option but have reached out to Air Canada for further clarification as we couldn't find any terms and conditions or clarifications on Air Canada's website.

UPDATE: I have confirmation from Air Canada that it will the first example in that it is based on buy miles value. So for every 3 cents of ticket purchased you will get 1 Aeroplan mile

It is good to see Air Canada moving to operating more flights over the coming months and as much as we all hate the vouchers and are fighting for refunds Air Canada has taken a step in a better direction by making the vouchers much more flexible and by having the option to convert to Aeroplan miles where you could potentially get more value than a voucher.

Let us know what you think of these changes!

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