Thursday, December 23, 2010

Aeroplan Expiry Rules

As a follow up to our recent appearances in the Globe and Mail and on Global Vancouver we want to give our readers some insight on the Aeroplan expiry rules that are making waves in the news right now:

The news revolves around the 7 year shelf life of Aeroplan miles that the company announced in late 2006 and became effective January 1, 2007. Basically what this means is that any miles earned prior to January 1, 2007 will expire on January 1, 2014. Miles earned after January 1, 2007 will expire  at the end of the month they were earned in seven years later. So if you are still collecting and redeeming miles with Aeroplan then you still have some time to start worrying about losing those miles prior to 2007.  The reason this news is surfacing now is that Aeroplan is slowly getting to work on systems to notify members on when their miles will expire starting in 2014 on a monthly basis and word is it that it will be started sometime in 2011.

This is a separate rule then the one that has made the news the past few years and that is the inactivity rule whereby if you do not earn or redeem at least 1 Aeroplan mile every 12 months then you lose all your miles regardless of how long you have had them. Many members have complained about this rule and not being notified about it. Aeroplan states they make all attempts to notify its members but the communications may get lost in all the emails received from Aeroplan.

One question posed to me is when you redeem miles which go first? Aeroplan runs on a first in first out basis which means your oldest miles are redeemed first on any Aeroplan redemption.

Other criticisms I have seen and been noted of is why is Aeroplan doing this but truth be told they were not the first frequent flyer program to do this and in fact their Canadian competitor, WestJet, has a 5 year shelf life for their WestJet dolllars earned in the WestJet Frequent Guest Program.

Please feel free to pose any questions, comments or concerns below.

Marriott keeps Elite Rollover for 2011

Marriott heralded an industry first this past year when they introduced Elite Rollover nights that essentially allowed you to keep any extra nights over and above your latest elite level and use them towards your elite status for the following year. Earlier this week Marriott was please to announce via their Marriott Rewards Insiders forum that will continue to offer this great feature for the 2011 year. This means that any extra nights you have at the end of 2011 will count towards your requalification in 2012.

Source: Marriott Rewards Insiders

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

US Airways to award lifetime Silver Elite Status to Million Milers

US Airways has introduced a million miler program (much like Air Canada did recently) where they will offer lifetime Silver Elite status to Dividend Mile members who have flown 1,000,000 status miles. To achieve the lifetime status the miles must have been flown on US Airways metal only which means that just like Aeroplan's program, partner flights do not count.

Friday, December 17, 2010

US Airways joins Star Alliance Upgrade Award program

US Airways is the second North American Star Alliance carrier to announce this month (Air Canada did so earlier) their participation in the Star Alliance Upgrade Award program. Basically allows you to use miles to upgrade full fare economy or business class flights based on each carriers availability.

For complete details please see US Airways Star Alliance Upgrades

2011 Air Canada Top Tier Program - Modifications to Benefits

Less then a week after initially being released, Air Canada has listened to their top flyers and have adjusted some parts of the 2011 Top Tier program due to the numerous complaints they received. The primary changes come in the number of credits required for upgrading certain fare classes with Air Canada lowering the amount in three categories.

Once again this was announced on by Air Canada representative Andrew Yiu. Following is an excerpt from his post that covers the modifications

Thanks to everyone for the comments that have been posted here the last few days, and especially those who took the time to post some very valuable, constructive feedback. While it's not our intent to address every issue raised on this forum on the changes to the 2011 Top Tier program, some very valid points were raised which we agree should be addressed to the best of our ability. These modifications are our attempt to do just that. As I've explained here previously, the eUpgrades program is designed to give our customers more flexibility in terms of what types of fares and flights they would like to use their upgrades on. All credits can now be used to upgrade from Tango Plus and Latitude fares, instead of a system where fixed types of certificates were being offered, which resulted in some customers not being able to fully utilize their upgrade benefit. eUpgrades will allow a customer to choose between using more credits to upgrade lower fares, or less for higher fares. The zone system was developed to take into account the fact that all credits will be valid on all Tango Plus and Latitude fares. We need a simple system to reflect the value of an Executive Class/Executive First seat in a particular market; hence the 1500 miles cutoff within NA and 5000 miles cutoff for International.

Having said that, our Marketing and Revenue Management teams sat down today and reviewed all the constructive feedback we've received. Following that, we have decided to make the following adjustments to the 2011 eUpgrade Program:

All Tango Plus Flight Passes will be booked in M class
(Edit to add: North America + Sun Passes only.)

This one has actually been in the works as the Flight Pass program is independent of both the eUpgrade and Top Tier programs. All Tango Plus Flight Passes that are currently booked in U will be rebooked into M effective Jan 1, 2011 (Passes for flights to our Sun markets are the only ones that are currently outstanding). Existing Flight Pass bookings that are booked in U will be rebooked in M. You will be able to upgrade using your eUpgrade Credits based on the requirement for M class for travel effective March 1, 2011.

Adjustment of credits required for Tango Plus (M class) on International flights

The credits required for Tango Plus (M class) on an international flight will be modified as follows:

• For flights that are < 5000 miles: 8 credits (instead of 10)
• For flights that are 5001 miles or longer: 12 credits (instead of 15)

There is no change to booking windows, which remains the same versus 2010.

This change will become effective on the eUpgrades system later this week.

The rationale behind the change is that we took another look at all the current M fares across our markets and as some of you have pointed out, the differential between Y/B and M is not always the same. The new revised requirement better reflects the average of the fare differential between M fares and the rest of the Tango Plus fares on our International markets.

Adjustment of credits required for Tango Plus (U,H,Q,V,W,S,K,L,T class) on International flights

The credits required for Tango Plus (U,H,Q,V,W,S,K,L,T class) on international flights will be modified as follows:

• For flights that are < 5000 miles: 14 credits (no change)
• For flights that are 5001 miles or longer: 17 credits (instead of 20)

There is no change to booking windows, which remains the same versus 2010.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WestJet signs interline agreement with British Airways

OK, I know this news is over a week old but better late then never right?

Anyways, WestJet has signed another agreement like those previously with Air France KLM, China Airlines and American Airlines whereby customers travelling on British Airways flights from the U.K. connecting to a WestJet flights will be able to do so on a single ticket.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Friday, December 10, 2010

Air Canada reveals 2011 Top Tier program

Air Canada has officially released the details of the 2011 Top Tier Program, and to most frequent flyers who participate in online communities the reaction is the same: the Top Tier program has been devalued once again. We will get to this point shortly, but to start, I will repost what Air Canada's online representative on FlyerTalk posted onto that forum in the early hours of Dec 9 (it covers some of the features we have mentioned previously)

"Today (Dec 9) we’re launching the 2011 Air Canada Top Tier Program. We’d like to highlight some of the biggest program enhancements for 2011 right here.

Launch of eUpgrades

If there’s been one common message from our Top Tier members over the past few years, it’s been this: “Enough with the wallpaper!” Last year as we began work on our electronic upgrade product – known as “eUpgrades” – we kept this in mind and entirely rethought how our Top Tier upgrades work. In the end, we landed on something whereby all of the upgrade currency – now “eUpgrade Credits” – can be used more freely by tying it more closely to the Economy Class fare paid. Some key items worth mentioning:

  • As mentioned in earlier communications, eUpgrade Credits can be used for travel starting March 1, 2011. Note that those Top Tier members qualifying in December & January will receive extra 2010 Top Tier upgrade certificates for use for travel through February 28, 2011. Note that these will not and cannot be converted into eUpgrade Credits – they are simply a goodwill gesture for members who would like to upgrade prior to the launch of eUpgrades.
  • Regardless of where your original booking was made, you will always be able to request an upgrade for an eligible flight online at through your eUpgrade account. You’ll also be able to view transaction history.
  • Versus the 2010 upgrade certificate program, there are no major changes to eligible booking classes / booking windows. While the Tango Plus booking class “U” is no longer grouped with booking class “M” (as on our 2010 Top Tier upgrade certificates), this is due to the fact that we are not selling booking class “U” on a regular basis.
  • Beginning with the launch of eUpgrades in the airport on March 1, 2011, all waitlisted upgrade requests will be automatically transferred to our airport standby list. This means that you will no longer have to re-request your upgrade upon check-in if it hasn’t already cleared.
  • Now, all Top Tier members will enjoy the privilege of sharing their credits with eUpgrade Nominees, allowing the nominee to upgrade, even when the member is not traveling with them. However, the sponsoring Top Tier member will always be required to request the upgrade on behalf of their nominee.
  • Just a note that eUpgrade Credits will be deposited into the Top Tier member’s account within 48 hours of choosing eUpgrade Credits as a Select Privilege. Until the account is credited, it will not be possible to access the account, so don’t be concerned if you can’t log into your account immediately.
  • Also, for any December 2010 threshold upgrade activities, we will continue to send paper upgrade certificates. This is due to a system limitation associated with the launch of the eUpgrade program. However, going forward, we will be able to offer credits with a longer validity period for threshold upgrade activities which take place towards the end of a qualification year.
For full details on the program (upgrade request process, eligible bookings, credits required, etc), we invite you to visit We’ll be interested to see your feedback over the coming weeks, especially when the product launches in the airports, for travel on March 1, 2011.

New Super Elite Select Privilege: Maple Leaf Club for a Friend

Some of you may recall this as a Select Privilege we had a few years ago. We hope it's interesting to Super Elite members who are looking for options other than eUpgrade Credits and/or Bonus Miles.

New Prestige Select Privilege: 35% Discount on Maple Leaf Club

We recognize Maple Leaf Lounge access is valuable to our Prestige members, hence the additional Maple Leaf Lounge One-Time Guest Pass included in one of our Select Privilege options this year. Furthermore, as you may recall from last year, we introduced a 15% Maple Leaf Club discount for all Prestige members, but your feedback made it clear that this was not enough. Therefore, this year we will offer a 35% Maple Leaf Club discount, applicable to all Maple Leaf Club membership options, as a Select Privilege. This is well over double (in some cases triple) the discount offered by other airlines to their equivalent tier members when purchasing lounge membership.

Air Canada Minimum Flight Requirement

In order to better manage the cost of our program, and to ensure that we’re delivering benefits to our true frequent flyers, we have introduced a “minimum flight requirement.” This will be considered during your 2012 Top Tier qualification year (January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011), so it will not impact your 2011 Top Tier status.

The flight requirement is 5 Status Flight Segments or 10,000 Status Miles on eligible flights operated by Air Canada or on behalf of Air Canada by Jazz, Air Georgian Limited (doing business as Air Alliance), Exploits Valley Air Services LTD, Central Mountain Air and Sky Regional Airlines. Note that you can reach the Minimum Flight Requirement on Status Flight Segments, even if you qualify based on Status Miles – or vice versa. You will be able to track your qualification towards this requirement online at beginning in the spring of 2011.

The minimum flight requirement counts as part of your regular qualification requirement, which remains the same for 2012:

  • To qualify for Super Elite, you will need 100,000 Status Miles or 95 Status Segments.
  • To qualify for Elite, you will need 35,000 Status Miles or 50 Status Segments.
  • To qualify for Prestige, you will need 25,000 Status Miles or 25 Status Segments.
We hope that you’ll be pleased with the changes we’re introducing this year, and as we mentioned last year, we will continue to refine the program based on your comments and ideas going forward."

Now back to our post:

Top Tier Upgrade Program
As you can see the biggest change comes in the Upgrade department. Gone are the paper certificates that had to be handed in. Everything will be done electronically with the new eUpgrade credit system. This is where much of the dismay of loyal Air Canada flyers is coming from. Based on the numbers provided by Air Canada on how many eUpgrade credits will be awarded at the various tier levels (of which there are less then last year), members are finding out they are getting fewer upgrades then was seen previously. With the paper system, you had simply provided one certificate for a flight that you cleared the upgrade on (upgrade was either a North American, System wide or Super System wide Upgrade) Now, with the new eUpgrade credits, fare class and flights distance come into play as to how many credits you need to redeem for the upgrade. For example flight from Calgary to Houston will require 2 credits to upgrade a Latitude fare, 4 to 10 credits for Tango Plus.  So depending on your route and class, you may have been able to upgrade with one cert in 2010 but may not have enough credits to do the same in 2011. According to some of the posters Flyertalk, the biggest hit in comparison to previous years will come to those using upgrades for flights to Asia.

Really, the only good news to come out of the announcement for the upgrade portion of the Top Tier program is that you no longer have to carry paper certificates and you can share you eUpgrade with others even if you are not travelling with them

- To see how many eUpgrade credits are required to upgrade please see this Air Canada Chart
- To see how many eUpgrade credits are earned at the variou tier levels see this Air Canada Chart

Top Tier Select Privileges
As with previous years, Top Tier members can choose select privileges for their top tier level, this year they are as follows:

Super Elite
Pick 2 of 4
* 100% Top Tier Bonus with Air Canada and select airline partners
* 40 eUpgrade Credits
* 3,500 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles
* Complimentary Maple Leaf Club Membership for a Friend

Pick 2 of 3
* 20 eUpgrade Credits
* 2,000 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles
* 6 Maple Leaf Lounge Guest Passes

 Pick 1 of 2
* 12 eUpgrade Credits for Flight Pass Activities
* 2,500 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles for Flight Pass Activities

Pick 2 of 4
* 50% Top Tier Bonus with Air Canada and select airline partners
* 15 eUpgrade Credits
* 10 eUpgrade Credits
* 2,000 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles

Pick 2 of 3

* 10 eUpgrade Credits
* 1,000 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles
* 4 Maple Leaf Lounge Guest Passes

 Pick 1 of 2

* 8 eUpgrade Credits for Flight Pass Activities
* 1,250 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles for Flight Pass Activities

Pick 3 of 5
* 25% Top Tier Bonus with Air Canada and select airline partners
* 20 eUpgrade Credits
* 1,500 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles
* Maple Leaf Club Membership Discount
4 Maple Leaf Lounge Guest Passes

 Pick 1 of 2
* 4 eUpgrade Credits for Flight Pass Activities
* 750 Bonus Air Canada Status Miles for Flight Pass Activities

You can also view  the Top Tier Select properties on this Air Canada page

Minimum Flight Requirement
As we reported on Monday, to achieve Top Tier Status for 2012, Aeroplan members will have to complete some flights on Air Canada metal to be eligible for status. A minimum of 10,000 status miles or 5 status flight segments must be flown on AC or on behalf of AC (Air Georgian, Jazz, etc. see above). For the majority of current Top Tier members this is a non-issue as most of their flying is on Air Canada. What this new rule does is make it harder for those who do not fly Air Canada but earn miles and status into the Aeroplan program via partner airlines. Most of these people did it as the Air Canada program was one of the easiest to earn Star Alliance Gold status in (AC Elite Level).

Overall, based primarily on the new upgrade system, the benefits of Air Canada's Top Tier program have been slightly eroded once again, but that also depends on who you talk to. For some frequent flyers this new system may actually be better, see this thread on Canflyer for an example. All in all this is the first go round for this new system for Air Canada and perhaps after they receive many negative emails from frequent flyers and get beaten up via all the social media channels, they will evaluate how the eUpgrade credits are awarded and spent (note to Air Canada: You don't have to wait until 2012 to implement the changes, a positive change in the middle of the year will do you just as good)

In the end how will this affect the number of Top Tier members within Air Canada? I honestly don't think it will affect them significantly. Every year when there has been some sort of devaluation, Air Canada's frequent flyers (the vocal ones at least) state they are taking their business elsewhere but end up staying with AC. Now this may not hold true for all of them as some have jumped ship but overall with Air Canada's position in the Canadian market, it is hard for frequent flyers to move to another program when in reality there are only two players in the domestic market, and the other player WestJet, has no business class to upgrade to or partner airlines to redeem miles on. So unless WestJet changes their business model and/or Air Canada actually sees a mass exodus of premium travellers, this yearly occurance of Air Canada annoucing the Top Tier benefits and the frequent flyers complaining will not change as Air Canada has a loose stranglehold on the premium market and the loyalty surronding it..


For all the details on the 2011 Air Canada Top Tier program please visit the Top Tier page on

To read what some Air Canada frequent flyers are saying and some responses from Air Canada please see this thread on Flyer Talk and this thread on Canflyer.

As always feel free to comment below!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Air Canada Aeroplan Top Tier Qualification to require flights on Air Canada

A new development in the ongoing quest of achieving top tier status with Aeroplan for 2011 will be the requirement of actually flying on Air Canada. Up to now, one could fly any Star Alliance airline and post all the status miles to Air Canada to achieve top tier status with Air Canada/Aeroplan. This meant that they may have never set foot on an Air Canada plane yet Air Canada/Aeroplan had to provide that frequent flyer with status. In particular, the Elite Status level is what many non-Air Canada flyers looked for when posting miles to Aeroplan as you only required 35,000 status miles to get the Elite Status and in turn that status gave them Star Alliance Gold status while an airline like United required 50,000 status miles to get the same Star Alliance Gold status.

Fast forward to 2011 and the new rules state that you must fly either 10,000 status miles or 5 eligible status flight segments as part of the qualifying process to achieve Air Canada 2012 Top Tier status (Prestige, Elite and Super Elite). At this point, the complete qualifying criteria has not been released by Air Canada but we can assume it will be the same as the past couple of years where total status miles and/or segments required was 25,000 miles or 25 segments for Prestige, 35,000 miles or 50 segments for Elite and 100,000 miles or 95 segments for Super Elite.

For more details and discussion from many Air Canada frequent flyers please see this post on Flyertalk.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Star Alliance Upgrade Awards now available on Air Canada

Air Canada is now officially participating in the Star Alliance Upgrade Awards program which allows members from Aeroplan and other Star Alliance programs to use their miles to upgrade on eligible Air Canada and Jazz Flights. The upgrades only work on Latitude fares (Economy Y or B booking class) and can be requested right as soon as your booking is confirmed. See Aeroplan's Star Alliance Upgrade Page for more details.

For Aeroplan members, you can now use your miles to also upgrade on participating Star Alliance partner flights starting from as little as 7,500 Aeroplan miles. See the Star Alliance Upgrade Award Chart for more details

For a complete roundup of all the details and pages related to this latest feature with Aeroplan and to process upgrade requests online see this summary page on Aeroplan.

Saturday Dec 4: Big Day for earning Aeroplan Miles at Rexall

On Saturday December 4, Rexall Stores will be offering Aeroplan Members 15,000 Bonus Aeroplan miles for simplying transferring a prescription from a non-Rexall/Pharma-Plus drug store and filling the prescription right away. The offer is valid at participating Rexall/Rexall Pharma Plus locations only in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, North West Territories and Manitoba. Depending on the cost of your prescription you can get a pretty cheap short haul flight out of this deal (15,000 Aeroplan Miles = 1 Short Haul flight). You can expect many Rexalls particularily in the bigger metropolitan centers to be quite busy so get there earliy to take advantage of the offer.

For more details and compete terms and conditions please see this page on Aeroplan

Thursday, December 2, 2010

WestJet announces more non-stop service to Orlando

More seasonal  routes were announced from WestJet last week:

- Hamilton to Orlando which will run once per week from Feb 15 to  Apr 26
- Moncton to Orlando will also run once per week from Feb 17 to May 5

Source: WestJet Press Release (Hamilton)
Source: WestJet Press Release (Moncton)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WestJet adds new sun routes from Halifax and expands others

WestJet announced last week that they will be adding direct non-stop flights from Halifax to Montego Bay, Punta Cana, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa and expanding service to Cancun and Orlando. All the new and expanded routes will be flown once per week and are seasonal for Winter 2011. They are all starting mid-February and running until early May.

For full details and flight timings please see the WestJet Press Release

Egyptair to launch Toronto-Cairo service in 2011

Egyptair annouced last week at the African Airlines Association general assembly that they will be launching a new service between Toronto and Cairo, Egypt. The new service has now been loaded into the GDS systems (per Airline Route Updates) and will commence on Jun 1, 2011. The flight will be operated with a Boeing 777-300ER on a 3x weekly basis.

Flight timings:
Toronto-Cairo Dep 1130 Arr 0600+1
Cairo-Toronto Dep 2355 Arr 0540+1