Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Redemption Stories The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Air Miles Summary

For our second edition of Redemption Stories: The Good The Bad and The Ugly I asked for our readers to tell us their stories of redeeming Air Miles Reward Miles. Well much to my surprise the responses were very minimal compared to the first edition on Aeroplan. This could mean one of two things, either most people are happy with Air Miles (usually we only hear complaints and not praise) or it is indicative of the type of visitors Rewards Canada receives, that is, we get more frequent travellers who utilize frequent flyer programs like Aeroplan than we do frequent shoppers who utilize programs like Air Miles.

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Three quarters of the whopping four responses were good stories while one from Twitter was just plain ugly! There were no bad responses.

I would love to hear more comments and stories from Air Milesmembers, feel free to do so at the bottom of this post and finally I want to thank everyone who contributed their stories, without you this post would not be possible! Be sure to watch for the next Redemption Stories request later this month.


via the Rewards Canada Blog
I have had two good experiences for redeeming Air Miles Rewards Miles for flights. The first was for a last minute flight to attend a funeral. As usual flights were quite expensive to buy only 2 days out but I logged onto Air Miles and was able to find flights to redeem miles for, the rate was slightly higher than the base redemption level but not exorbitant. This redemption saved me a good deal of money. The second redemption I had to call in as I was short about 300 miles for 4 tickets and you can only buy Air Miles to top off for a redemption via the phone. I didn’t have to wait too long for an agent and she was great, the additional Air Miles Reward miles purchase went without a hitch as did the actually flight booking. My only concern was that since I could not book online I would incur a higher booking fee and the agent said that she would refund the difference as she understood that the only reason I called in the booking was because I needed to top of my account otherwise I would have booked online (hey Air Miles maybe you should look into the option to allow people to buy miles online during the booking process!)

via email
We have booked 5 return flights to Edmonton from Victoria or vice versus for our family in the last 60 days.

On line system works fine although we have to keep putting the same personal data in repeatedly.

I tried to book a couple of these flight with Aeroplan and they did not have anything available. This seems weird to me as I then went to Air Miles and I got two return flights via Air Canada for the exact same dates.

Observation: It would appear that Aeroplan is not buying enough seats for their members. Or perhaps there are more Aeroplan members flying to Edmonton than for AirMiles members

via email
I just used Airmiles to book a trip for the time period I had been trying to book for months (with Aeroplan). I had the pick of any flights I wanted. The opposite experience to Aeroplan. My only problem now is the glut of Aeroplan points I have. The ratios for gift cards, etc. are not nearly as good for classic flights. What a bummer.


There were no bad responses!

via Twitter
Actually, I've NEVER redeemed..because I hear the process is dreadful.


  1. Oh I wish I could contact that Twitter responder directly! I've redeemed my miles for quite a few flights so far. I have to say that the new online system makes it so easy! I'm always booking for the YYT-YSJ route which would run me $800 in cash from Air Canada but only 950 AM during low season, which is great value for me.

  2. I've never heard any horror stories. I have flown numerous times to St. John's, NL, London, ON, and last year I used Air Miles to travel to Ft. Lauderdale to take a cruise, but I paid for the cruise. My wife and I have enough Air Miles to fly anywhere in the world, and I'm sure that between the two of us we could write a book on how to maximize your Air Miles....one tip....Sobey's gift cards, periodically you can buy $500 worth, and get 200 bonus Air Miles. Then when you spend them, you get an Air Mile for every $20 from Sobeys, plus you get 1 for every $15 you spent on the gift card using your Air Miles credit card. That totals 258 Air Miles for a $500 expenditure (potentially....you don't always get your week's groceries in even multiples of $20).

  3. We redeemed most of our miles to fly to France this spring... the process went smoothly and as we hold a BMO Gold Air Miles card we used 25% less than normal. It worked well from start to finish.

  4. I agree with the "good postings". I too have flown from Halifax to Florida with my 3 kids and husband every year for the last 5 years. I don't always have enough airmiles to cover 5 flights return but usually enough to cover 2-3 flights, only having to pay for taxes. At Christmas, we are all going on Airmiles having had to pay only 27$ to buy the extra airmiles for the 5th flight. It works great - that's the only way my family of 5 could fly to Florida every year.
    Another trick is to constantly search for bonus airmiles. I just got the BMO GOld air card again because there was a promotion of 1000 airmiles with any new approved card. My husband and I got one card each, so 2000 airmiles, with almost covers us for a trip to Florida during peak season, which cost us $99/card each. Great saving on a flight to Florida.

  5. I am just going through Air Miles and Aeroplan website to see what my options are for a YQR-IND flight in November.

    Aeroplan: "There is little or no availability for part of your itinerary. You may select another date using the Availability Calendar or try the ClassicPlus tab."

    I choose a different date and here are the results: Leave YQR at 05:00, arrive in IND at 15:30; or if I want, I can get an extra 1/2 hour sleep and leave YQR at 05:30 and arrive in IND at 21:26.

    Return trip: Leave IND at 07:00, arrive in YQR at 20:27. There are three options available, all offering the same departure and arrival times.

    Total taxes & fees if I fly with Aeroplan miles: $377.00

    If I want a schedule with more options, I can fly for 78k miles each -- more than 3 times the base 25k miles redemption amount.

    Air Miles: Alternatively, if I fly with Air Miles, for 2213 miles per person, I have numerous options. The best one offered is: I can leave YQR at 07:59 and arrive in IND at 15:05. The return flight allows me to depart IND at 15:30 and arrive back at YQR at 19:58.

    Total taxes & fees if I fly with Air Miles: $263.00

    So not only do I have more flexibility with Air Miles, I can also get to and from IND spending LESS time at airports and for LESS FEES than Aeroplan. Best of all, they are offering flights ON THE DAYS I WANT!

    I intend to cancel my CIBC Aerogold in the coming weeks. Last year, it was incredibly difficult finding options to book a trip to TPA. In the end, we did find a flight to TPA, but not without spending too much time in airports. Aeroplan wasn't anywhere like this 3 years ago. Sad to see what was once a great program being reduced to nothing more than a program aimed at encouraging you to collect miles, at the same time offering less value per mile for redemption.

    I was critical of Air Miles when they introduced expiry dates for their miles. But obviously in terms of flexibility, it appears that AM offers better "bang for your buck" than the maple leaf carrier. I will be keeping my Air Miles for the foreseeable future.

  6. Airmiles is useless for flights for the majority of its collectors (except for those people living in more remote areas, who can get some smokin' deals and never have issues with availability). This is a common known fact. Most people redeem for gift cards. Since they've taken most of the good gift cards away (like Chapters and Starbucks) it's become somewhat of a joke as to what to do with the darned things. They've even limited quantities of my third favorite gift card (Best Western). Not sure why that is!

    I looked up several flights for several different sets of dates (low season, even!) and got back nothing! Then I started putting in mid-week days (like Wednesdays for departures) and got more results, but still not a lot. This was MONTHS in advance, too! Their website blows! So, for a ticket that retails for about $250, the taxes/fees were over $200 (even though the airline actually only charged just under $100 in taxes/fees). Outrageous!!!

    Then there's the issue of your redemptions for travel being non-refundable. I just can't book anything that's non-refundable. Too many variables with kids and work. And obviously, last minute redemptions don't work.

    I did find a great thing to redeem for: car rental! I can get great value for car rental and redeem a couple of days before I leave, with another reservation as a back-up in case they f&*# up my redemption. I'll know later next year if that worked out and can finally post something positive about Airmiles!

  7. I've been a collector of Airmiles for the past 13 years with two BMO Mastercard. I pay the $99 fee on both cards to get $15/1mile.

    Within the past 3 years however, I been traveling a lot (on AirCanada+Star Alliance), and this year I've finally hit Elite 35k with Aeroplan. Last year my wife and I were both Prestige and with our flying we managed to get upgraded several times to executive class (even without using points while flying Ethiopian Airlines).

    Lately I've been contemplating if I should be collecting Aeroplan compared to Airmiles with my credit card.

    While looking up some travel rewards with airmiles, I looked up a normal trip for us from YVR-YYZ return. I decided to look this up on Aeroplan. Both are the same dates, the only difference is the AM is direct flights whereas the AE has one stop. But the price difference was significant.
    Airmiles = $235.73 + 2344am
    Aeroplan = $143.89 + 25000ae

    I looked at the breakdown of the charges:

    Redemption Admin Fee $15
    HST $25.48
    Airport Improvement Fee $45
    Canada Air Security Charge $14.25
    Security/Fuel Charges $136

    HST $15.64
    Airport Improvement Fee $30
    Canada Air Security Charge $14.25
    Fuel Surcharge $54
    Nav Canada $30

    Seems like Airmiles joins the Nav Canada and Fuel Surcharge together, but it seems awfully high compared to Aeroplan. So I decided to check one more thing. I checked the same Airmiles flight, on Westjet's website.

    I picked the cheapest flight options, and the breakdown of fees are?:

    HST $65.44 (based on the $438 flight)
    Airport Improvement Fee $45
    Canada Air Security Charge $14.25
    Other air transportation charges $46

    So that last field should be the Security/Fuel Charges from Airmiles. But it's a difference of $90.

    I checked another route as well, and came back with similar figures that the Airmiles fee's were more. Looks like it's time to switch.