Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Changes to the AIR MILES program

The AIR MILES program has recently announced some enhancements to the program that are all related to their flight rewards. The newly announced changes or enhancements are as follows:

More Seats and Over 25 Airlines
- According to the AIR MILES, they will now offer more seats for redemption on their 11 partner airlines which hopefully means AIR MILES members will find flight redemption easier.
- Should seats not be available on their 11 partner airlines, you can now redeem AIR MILES on 25 other airlines. These redemption will require more AIR MILES then flights on the partner airlines. AIR MILES state they can start at a 5% premium but will depend on the chosen flight, date and time. (This is similar to Aeroplan's ClassicPlus flight option where you can get any seat if available but for a higher amount of miles)
The 25 new airlines that can be found under this new option are:
Delta Airlines | Continental Airlines | US Airways | Air Transat | JetBlue | British Airways | Air France | KLM | Cathay Pacific | Singapore Airways | Emirates | Qantas | British Midland | Hawaiian Airlines | AeroMexico | Air New Zealand | Swiss Airlines | Austrian Air | Caribbean Airlines | Air Jamaica | Czech Airlines | ANA | LAN | Etihad Airways | Jet Airways

One Way Flights
- AIR MILES members will now be able to book one way flights in the program allowing for open jaw, stop over and other routing possibilities.

Departures from anywhere in the World
- Members can now book flights from anywhere in the world. Previously departures had to originate in Canada or the U.S.

Online Booking
- AIR MILES has finally caught up to the rest of the travel loyalty companies by offering online booking of reward flights. This option is set to become live sometime this fall. We had heard that it was originally supposed to happen earlier this year but like almost every program out there launching a new IT initiative, it is coming out later then expected. What we don't know yet is if online bookings will have a booking fee or not. To be competitive, it should not carry a fee but for the amount of members AIR MILES has and the unlikely defection of many of those members to other programs, AIR MILES may have a fee tacked onto online bookings simply because they can. We will have to wait and see on that subject.

Overall these changes are a move in the right direction for the AIR MILES program. For the past few years the program has appeared to be more focused on merchandise and other non-flight rewards, moving away from the whole premise of the name AIR MILES. These changes bring the program back inline with its travel competitors like Aeroplan and many credit card travel reward programs. While the earning and redemption rates may still not be as attractive as some of the other programs, these changes should please many of the 9 Million+ members who have AIR MILES as their primary loyalty program.

For more details on these changes please see the AIR MILES website

Monday, August 23, 2010

Delta Airlines to launch SkyMiles Credit Card in Canada

UPDATED AUG 24 (See below)

We have been given a heads up that Delta Airlines will officially launch a Canadian SkyMiles Credit Card tomorrow. The card will be issued by Capital One and it is the banks first foray into the airline frequent flyer market in Canada. We have known for about two years that Delta has been interested in launching a credit card in Canada, we just did not know when it would happen and with which bank (you may remember us mentioning a few times that a major U.S. airline was looking to launch a card here).

Delta Airlines serves the most cities in Canada after Air Canada and WestJet so it is a logical place for them to launch a new credit card. It will also be the first dedicated airline card for a SkyTeam alliance airline in Canada as both Star Alliance and OneWorld already have airline specific cards in Canada.

There will be two versions of the card, the Delta SkyMiles® World MasterCard® and the Delta SkyMiles Gold MasterCard. What we know so far is that the World MasterCard will offer 1 SkyMile for each C$1 spent, 2 SkyMiles for every C$1 spent with Delta, a limited time 25,000 SkyMile sign up bonus, a full insurance/benefit package and more.

We will provide the full details on each card tomorrow when all the details are released.

September 14, 2012 update:
The cards are now live on the Capital One Website:
World MasterCard
Gold MasterCard

World MasterCard details:
Apply Online
• Earn Delta miles on everything you buy
• Get a welcome bonus of up to 25,000 Delta miles
• Earn 3 Delta miles for every $1 you spend on Delta purchases
• Earn 2 Delta miles per $1 on all other net purchases
• Plus, get 10,000 annual bonus Delta miles when you spend at least $25,000 each year
• Valuable World MasterCard Benefits, including Travel Emergency Medical Insurance and Trip Cancellation Insurance
• Add an authorized user for $0
Please Note: A requirement of this card is a minimum personal income of $60,000 or household income of $100,000.

Gold MasterCard Details
Apply Online
• Earn Delta miles on everything you buy with no annual fee!
• Get 2,500 bonus Delta miles on your first purchase made within the first three months of account enrolment
• Earn 2 Delta miles for every $1 you spend on Delta purchases
• Earn 1 Delta mile for every $1 on all other net purchases
• Annual interest rate of 19.8%
• Valuable Gold benefits, including Purchase Assurance and Extended Warranty
• Add an authorized user for $0

We will have a complete review of the Delta SkyMiles® World MasterCard® up on Rewards Canada within a week.

“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Air Canada announces Vancouver - Tokyo Haneda service

Air Canada has announced that will start flying between Vancouver and Tokyo's Haneda airport on January 29, 2011. The new route is the first service between Canada and Tokyo's second airport which just recently began allowing more international flights and is only 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo. The daily service will supplement the already existing Vancouver-Tokyo Narita service effectively making Vancouver-Tokyo a double daily service. The route will be flown with a a Boeing 767-300ER.

Flight Timings:
Vancouver-Tokyo Haneda Dep 1930 Arr 2300+1 (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat)
Vancouver-Tokyo Haneda Dep 1900 Arr 2230+1 (Tue, Thu, Sun)
Tokyo Haneda-Vancouver Dep 0030 Arr 1625-1

Source: Air Canada

Thursday, August 12, 2010

WestJet announces new and expanded routes to the U.S. and Sun Desinations

On August 11th, WestJet announced via numerous press releases new routes and expanded routes from Canada to the U.S. and sun destinations. The new and expanded routes are as follows:

From Ottawa (source: WestJet Press Release)
New Service to Las Vegas that will run twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays from Dec 9, 10 to Apr 28, 11
Expanded service to Cancun (up to 3 weekly from 2) , Punta Cana (up to 2 from 1 weekly flight), Montego Bay (up to 3 from 2 weekly flights) and Ft. Lauderdale (up to 2 from 1 weekly flight)

From Edmonton (source: WestJet Press Release)
New Service to Orlando that will run once a week on Saturdays from Dec 18, 10 to Apr 30, 11

From Quebec City (source: WestJet Press Release)
New Service to Cancun that will run once a week on Saturdays from Dec 11, 10 to Apr 30, 11
New Service to Ft. Lauderdale that will run once a week on Sundays from Dec 12, 10 to Apr 24, 11

From Saskatoon (source: WestJet Press Release)
New Service to Phoenix that will run once a week on Fridayss from Dec 17, 10 to Apr 29, 11

American AAdvantage discounts short haul awards

American AAdvantage is once again offering Short Haul Awards (less then 700 miles) for 30% off the regular mileage rate. That means Economy Class Short Hop MileSAAver awards can be had fro 8,750 AAdvantage miles one way or 17,500 round trip. The award flights must be booked by August 31 for travel completed by December 15, 2010.

Examples of eligible itineraries:
* Toronto - Chicago O-Hare
* Montreal - New York

For more details see AA.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Delta cancels Thunder Bay - Minneapolis service

Delta will be cutting the former Northwest Airlines route between Thunder Bay and Minneapolis as of Oct 10, 10.

Source: Airline Route Updates

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Air Canada / Aeroplan formally launch Million Mile Program

Air Canada's top frequent flyers are finally going to receive the recognition they have been asking for for many years. Aeroplan members who have earned one million or more status miles by flying with Air Canada and Air Canada Jazz will be recognized. The miles must have been earned from the inception of Air Canada''s Top Tier program (circa 1988) and does not include miles earned before that. Full details are not yet known and according to an Air Canada spokesman, all the terms and conditions will only be released to those who qualify.

Garnering information from two frequent flyer forums where there are members who are qualifying it appears that at the 1MM mile mark you receive a beautiful wooden box, Recognition Letter, Special Edition Reduced Model of an AC777-300ER, 2 x SWU,2 x SSWU upgrade coupons, AC SE Membership Card and Luggage Tags with a 1 Million Miles Logo. As well it appears you receive lifetime elite status regardless of miles flown. This of course could vary per person depending on the total number of miles as one Super Elite has stated you get lifetime Super Elite status if you have flown 3 million or more miles with AC and AC Jazz.

We will keep you up to date as more information comes out!

Aug 13 Update:
Here is a post from FlyerTalk by Air Canada's own Ben Smith with a few more details:

"We've had this program in the works for some time and as a result of your feedback and suggestions to me, my team and the entire company we made the decision to fast track the launch ahead of 2011 renom.

There are 3 levels to the program. 1, 2 and 3 million miles flown on AC/Jazz since the start of the status program.

1MM = Lifetime Elite status for member + exclusive benefits/gift unique to this status level

2MM = Lifetime Elite status for member + Lifetime Elite status for a nominated partner + exclusive benefits/gifts unique to this status level

3MM = Lifetime Super Elite status for member + Lifetime Elite status for a nominated partner + exclusive benefits/gifts unique to this status level

Those who have qualified will be receiving their individual personalized packages in the coming weeks. In the coming months we have additional functionality rolling out to facilitate the ability to track your progress toward achieving status in these new programs.

Thanks again for your feedback and continued loyalty."

For more details on what members are receiving and talking about please read the following threads:
FlyerTalk: 1,000,000 Million Milles Recognition from AC
CanFlyer: AC lifetime status

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Toronto and Edmonton Airports add free Wi-Fi

Following in the footsteps of Calgary and Vancouver, both Edmonton and Toronto Airports are now offering free Wi-Fi service to anyone wishing to use the service while visiting the airports. Toronto's service became free on August 1st and Edmonton's on July 30, 10.

More details: Toronto Edmonton

Save 10% on select Aeroplan Flight Rewards

From the Aeroplan website

Between August 1 and 15, 2010, get 10% off your next business ClassicFlight or Star Alliance business or first class flight reward seat - for any travel date - within U.S. or between Canada and the U.S.

With this offer, you can save up to 6,000 Aeroplan Miles...

ClassicFlight Flight rewards

* Business class (short haul) – 25,000 miles. Now 22,500 miles!
* Business class (long haul) – 40,000 miles. Now 36,000 miles!

Star Alliance Flight rewards

* Business class (long haul) – 40,000 miles. Now 36,000 miles!
* First class (long haul) – 60,000 miles. Now 54,000 miles!

Full Details

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Capital One Survey Finds Higher Income Levels May Mean A Less-Than Relaxing Holiday

Compared to Men, Women Prefer to Vacation With a Friend Over a Spouse

Toronto, ON (July 21, 2010) - While 71% of Canadians take a vacation to relax and disconnect from their day-to-day life, the unfortunate reality is just as many of them (72%) experience some form of stress planning their holidays. The Capital One Aspire Travel Survey (www.capitalone.ca) found that three-quarters of women (76%) say they've felt some stress when planning a vacation compared with only 68% of men. Surprisingly, the survey found that stress levels appear to go up for people in higher income brackets. On average, 75% of Canadians with an annual income over $50 thousand have more stress when planning a vacation than Canadians who earn under $50 thousand (69%).

“Canadians want to relax on their holidays and they are looking for products that make booking and going on vacation easier,” said Laurel Ostfield, Spokesperson, Capital One Canada. “By offering flexible redemption options, Travel Emergency Medical, Trip Cancellation and Baggage Delay Benefits, the Aspire World MasterCard gives cardholders the peace of mind that they are looking for.”

When it comes to choosing vacation companions, the survey identified some unique differences between genders. While men and women are equally interested in taking a vacation to relax, men are more interested than women in bringing their significant other with them (68% versus 45%). In fact, 21% of women want to bring friends, compared to 13% of men, and are twice as likely to want to bring their children with them than men (21% versus 10%).

“To reduce your stress when planning your trip, think carefully about the interests, financial status and physical ability of the person you want to go with, otherwise the wrong match could end up ruining your holiday,” said Loren Christie, Travel Expert for CTV’s Canada AM. “Whether it’s your spouse or your best friend, you don’t want to miss out on an adventurous outing because your travel partner couldn’t keep up, or blow your budget because your companion will only stay at five star hotels.”

It all changes, however, when it comes to golf vacations, where men (15%) are more than three times less interested in a golfing vacation with their significant other than compared to women (52%).
For both men and women, planning vacations with other family members compared to friends and children caused the most stress (60% for men and 70% for women), suggesting that people should think twice about taking their in-laws on vacation with them.

The Capital One Aspire Travel Survey also found:

• 77% of Canadians took their vacations in Canada over the past year

• Europe is the ideal destination of nearly a third of Canadians (31%), but there is a disconnect (likely financial) between where respondents take their vacations and where they would prefer to take them since only 8% of Canadians went to Europe in the last twelve months

• Most Canadians (42%) spent $1,000 or less on their last vacation

• 72% of Canadians surveyed have never used a loyalty rewards program to pay for part of their vacation

• Atlantic Canadians are the least stressed when it comes to planning their vacations (64%), compared to Ontarians who top all provinces with 74% saying they felt some stress

Travel expert Loren Christie offers the following tips for a stress-free vacation:

• Do your research – Check travel websites and talk to friends for recommendations and deals on everything from where to go, how to get there, and what to see.

• Use a flexible rewards programs – Look for a program with the flexibility to choose any airline, with no blackout dates, seat restrictions or unexpected redemption fees so you can build the vacation of your choice.

• Make a budget – Figure out ahead of time how much you want to spend and keep track of your receipts. Calculating your costs at the end of each day is a great way to stay on track to avoid any unexpected financial stress.

• Make sure you and your travel partner are on the same page – All the planning in the world won’t help if you only want to lie on the beach and your companion insists on sightseeing.

About the survey

From June 25 to June 30 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,021 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
About Capital One
Located in Toronto, Ontario, Capital One has offered Canadian consumers a range of competitive MasterCard credit cards since 1996, when the company first introduced the Platinum MasterCard in Canada. Capital One Canada is a division of Capital One Bank, a subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation of McLean, Virginia (NYSE: COF).