Friday, February 25, 2011

Earn up to 1,000 bonus Aeroplan Miles per night at Fairmont Hotels

This is a great bonus mile offer for hotel stays as it awards you on a per night basis rather then the standard per stay basis. Also, we could not see a maximum number of nights restriction so technically speaking you can earn this bonus many times over until it ends on May 31. The offer is as follows: (as pulled from our Aeroplan page)

Earn up to 1,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles per night for stays at participating Fairmont Hotels Worldwide.
- Earn 500 Bonus Aeroplan Miles PER NIGHT for eligible stays in a standard room.
- Earn 1,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles PER NIGHT when you book our GOLD FLOOR or a SUITE at participating Fairmont locations
Full Details & Online Booking

Porter Airlines adds new service to Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie

Porter Airlines continues their expansion out of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport with an announcement today that will start new flights to Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie.

The Windsor service starts on April 27 and will offer up to 3 flights daily while the Sault Ste. Marie service starts up on May 4 with up to 2 flights per day.

Included in the announcement was Porter's plans to double their existing service to Sudbury on April 27.

Source: Porter Airlines

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CIBC Aventura World MasterCard Review

This is the review in full as it appears on the main Rewards Canada site.

CIBC has become the second major bank in Canada to issue both Visa and MasterCard cards with the launch of their CIBC Aventura World MasterCard. Much like its Aventura Visa equivalent, the Aventura World MasterCard looks to attract customers who want the ability to redeem points for flights without blackout dates and have the option to convert those points to Aeroplan Miles. Where this card differs from its Visa equivalent is on the benefits side, the World MasterCard option provides more in terms of the benefits included then the Visa Infinite branding

Falling into our Hybrid Credit Card category the CIBC Aventura World MasterCard becomes the best travel rewards card offered by CIBC. The card offers the same earning ratio as all the CIBC Infinite Visas (Aerogold & Aventura) along with the same sign up bonuses. Where this card stands out against CIBC's Visa cards is in the benefits it provides. The card has a set reward chart for flights allowing for up to 4% return and has extra insurance coverage that the Aerogold or Aventura Infinite Visas do not have.

The CIBC Aventura World MasterCard comes with an industry standard $120 primary card annual fee. The card offers a decent 15,000 point welcome bonus which can get the cardholder a free short haul flight. Supplementary cards are $50 each which is on par with most of the high end cards although the emerging trend from this card's competitors has been to offer these for free. The interest rate on the card is 19.99% which is in the middle of the pack for these type of cards (most high end cards range from 18% to 21%).

The CIBC Aventura World MasterCard earns 1 Aventura Point for every dollar spent on the card for purchases with an increased earning of 1.5 points at gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores.(on your first $80,000 in total annual account spending) It also offers double points for travel purchased with the CIBC Aventura Rewards Centre and bonuses at participating CIBC Bonus Rewards restaurants, resorts and golf courses, spas and retailers across Canada. This earning ratio on the card is the same as the other CIBC Cards and when compared with the rest of the industry for high end travel cards like these it is average. The card's 15,000 point sign up bonus is equivalent to the other CIBC Visa's and is similar to most of its competition.

On the redemption side, the points earned with the CIBC Aventura World MasterCard can be redeemed for any flights via the CIBC Aventura Rewards Centre. The World MasterCard has a set reward chart for flights with a limited amount at the lowest level and more at the higher levels. If you are lucky enough to get a $400 short haul ticket at the 10,000 point level, congratulations you have received the maximum return on this card of 4%. The return diminishes as the tickets go up in price and availability becomes tighter, see the following:
- Canada and U.S. (Short Haul) 10,000 - 25,000 points (Max. $400 ticket value)
- Canada and U.S. (Long Haul) 20,000 - 40,000 points (Max. $650 ticket value)
- Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Central America, Caribbean 40,000 - 60,000 points (Max. $1,000 ticket value)
- Europe 50,000 - 70,000 points (Max. $1,200 ticket value)
- Rest of the World 75,000 - 125,000 points (Max. $2,000 ticket value)
Tickets at the lowest point redemption levels are limited and are not available for certain times, flights or destinations. The maximum ticket price is before taxes, fees and other surcharges. These must be paid by the cardholder at the time of booking with an Aventura card or with Aventura points at a rate of 100 points to $1. At the time of booking, you can also purchase up to 20% of the required points at $0.03 each to reach a specific redemption level is so desired.

The card also allows members to convert their Aventura points to Aeroplan Miles in 10,000 point increments at a ratio of 1 to 1.

Features and Benefits
The CIBC Aventura World MasterCard features the best insurance and benefits package out of all the CIBC Travel Cards and is comparable to some of the other top cards from other issuers. The card features your standard travel accident, baggage and car rental insurance that are found on almost all fee based rewards cards but it also includes some that are only found on a few select cards. These include, Trip cancellation which is only offered as a standard feature on a half dozen other travel rewards cards and Travel Medical insurance which only comes standard on about 50% of the cards in the market. In comparison to the Visa cards issued by CIBC this new MasterCard heavily outweighs them in this category not only because of the trip cancellation insurance but also by the fact it has purchase protection and extended warranty insurance.

What is good about this card
This card can relatively hold its own in the premium credit card market with its reward and benefits offering. The ability to book travel via CIBC's travel agency or convert the Aventura points to Aeroplan miles definitely helps this card out. The increase in insurance and benefits over CIBC's other cards makes this the best CIBC travel rewards card on the market. The potential to get high rate of return of up to 4% can make this card a really good value but one has to make sure they try to maximize their reward to see this.

What is not so good about this card
Most of what is not so good with this card is the redemption category. The emerging trend in the industry has been to let the cardholder book travel how they want and with whom they want and then redeeming points against the charge. Unfortunately, this card makes the cardholder book via the CIBC Aventura Reward center and while it is a full service travel agency, they may not be able to find the same deals you could online. Another redemption issue are the restrictions placed on the flight rewards, these are text book frequent flyer program rules with restrictions on the lowest redemption rates and the need to pay for the fees and taxes over and above the redemption rate.

The CIBC Aventura World MasterCard may not be the best travel rewards credit card in the Canadian market when compared to other Hybrid or even other travel card categories but it definitely does take the top spot from CIBC's credit card offerings for travel rewards. If I banked at CIBC and was loyal to them I would choose this card as it offers the flexibility of booking flights on almost any airline or converting the points to Aeroplan. Overall the card may not impact the travel rewards industry tremendously in Canada, but does allow for a good card option for those who want to stick with CIBC and have all the benefits that many competitors have been offering to their cardholders.

This card will be included in our next Canada's Top Travel Rewards Card feature which will be out this summer! Where will it end up? You will just have to wait and see.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the new CIBC Aventura World MasterCard by commenting below.

Related links
CIBC Aventura World MasterCard on

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Carlson Hotels to launch Club Carlson, replaces GoldpointsPlus

Carlson Hotels announced on February 14 that they will be launching a new frequent guest program called Club Carlson. The Club Carlson program will replace Carlson's current GoldpointsPlus program. There are not many details out yet but the press release states new redemption partnerships with CWT (Carlson Wagonlit Travel) Vacations and Club Med plus 20 restaurants and retailers. For the very loyal customers, they will introduce a new elite tier called "Concierge" which will offer complimentary upgrades, continental breakfast, early check-in/late check-out and 75% bonus points. And following in Marriott's footsteps, Carlson will offer rollover nights which allows Elite members to roll over extra nights for the following year's elite re-qualification.

Source: Carlson Hotels

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

US Airways to launch Quebec City - Philadelphia service

US Airways has announced that they will launch three times daily service between Quebec City and their Philadelphia hub. The new flights will start on Jun 2 with CRJ200 aircraft.

Source: Airline Route Updates

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Air Canada announces non-stop Gander - Toronto flights

Air Canada has announced that they will launch seasonal non-stop service between Gander, Newfoundland and Toronto on Jun 18. The flight will be operated daily over the summer season with an E190 aircraft.

Flight Timings
Toronto-Gander Dep 2255 Arr 0317+1
Gander-Toronto Dep 0520 Arr 0659

Source: Air Canada

Delta SkyMiles eliminates mileage expiry

Finally some good news coming out of an frequent flyer program! Delta announced today that they have eliminated their mileage expiry rules. Simply put this means SkyMiles don't expire. Delta is now the only major U.S. carrier, North America actually, without mileage expiration.

The question that will now be raised, is will other airlines follow suit? I think we will definitely see a couple of the other majors do so in the U.S. but I am not too sure about Air Canada and WestJet as they tend not to follow trends in the U.S. that do not benefit their bottom line. Ultimately though, this will help out Delta's bottom line as they may actually see some defection and new customers to their program. This will primarily be seen on the lower end with those who avoid joining travel rewards programs as before they would not earn enough miles within the expiration period to redeem for something worthwhile.

You can see Delta's membership rules here stating that miles no longer expire

Friday, February 11, 2011

FlyCentralEurope to launch Hamilton - Eastern Europe service

This may not appeal to many of our frequent flyers, but for many of our 'regular' travelers who fly charters this is an interesting new option to get to Eastern Europe with flights from Hamilton to Budapest, Krakow and Prague. The service will run from May to September 2011. FlyCentralEurope is owned by Canadian tour company Panorama Travel and Tours and technically do not own any planes. They will be utilizing Boeing 767-200 aircraft (and I would assume crews) from Italian leisure carrier Air Italy.

Source Airline Route Updates and FlyCentralEurope

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WestJet mounts new challenge in the Eastern Triangle

Since the launch of Porter Airlines a few years back WestJet has seen their small market share of the eastern triangle between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal be eroded to an even smaller percentage putting them behind Air Canada and Porter. To prove their importance in the market and attempt to gain more business travellers WestJet announced a new initiative on their Eastern Triangle routes that will take effect on May 2, 2011.

The initiative includes increases in the number of flights on business days to 10 each way between YYZ and YUL and 9 each way between YYZ and YOW. These flights will all depart from easy access gates at each airport. Further initiatives on these routes include no fees to take an earlier or later flight on the same day and complementary wine and beer on board. Also, guests who join WestJet's Frequent Guest Program will receive 25 bonus WestJet dollars for every three one-way flights flown in the triangle between May and August. WestJet is also promising 50% off their guest next flight on these routes should their current flights be delayed by more then 30 minutes. If a flight is cancelled and the guest can't fly at the new time they will receive a full credit for their first flight and the 50% off their next flight.

For more details and a schedule for the flights on the triangle please see this WestJet press release

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Air Canada cans new Vancouver-Tokyo Haneda service

Air Canada has decided not to proceed with their new Vancouver - Tokyo Haneda route to due poor demand. The flight was scheduled to start at the end of this month.

Source Airline Route Updates

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

WestJet and Delta ink interline agreement

WestJet announced yesterday that they have signed an interline agreement with Atlanta based Delta Airlines. The agreement went into effect immediately allowing WestJet and Delta customers to purchase connecting flights on one ticket, receive boarding passes for all segments at their first check-in, and tag bags through to their final destination. Currently it will allow connections between WestJet and Delta in over 25 cities in Canada and the U.S.. At the moment passengers must book via Delta booking channels to get the interline flights on both airlines.

This move makes a lot of sense for WestJet even though they already have an agreement in place with American Airlines. Why? As we have stated in the past Delta serves the most cities in Canada after Air Canada and WestJet and Delta's SkyTeam alliance is the second largest alliance in Canada after Star Alliance (solely because of Air Canada) The majority of the Canadian cities covered by Delta are served by WestJet as well, more so then American Airlines and allows for many more connections to be made across Canada rather then only 4 or 5 major cities.

Source: WestJet Press Release

Air Canada to launch Montreal - Sept Iles service

According to Airline Route Updates, Air Canada will launch non-stop service between Montreal and Sept Iles on Mar 7, 11. The flight will be offered 6x weekly (No Sunday service) aboard a Dash 8-100.

Flight Timings:
Montreal-Sept Iles Dep 0750 Arr 0950
Sept Iles-Montreal Dep 1010 Arr 1225