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