Aeroplan announces positive changes to flight reward refund fees but temporarily claws back stopovers

The Air Canada Aeroplan saga, as we penned it, technically ended with Air Canada completing the acquisition of Aeroplan many months ago. What didn’t end was Air Canada’s commitment to launching a new, updated Aeroplan program in July of 2020. With only 1 year left in that timeline the Air Canada owned and operated Aeroplan is now starting to bring us some changes to the program. Yesterday they revealed mostly positive changes to the program but also some negative changes that do affect a very small amount of members. Those changes are as follows:

1. Complimentary, full refunds within 24 hours of booking

You are now able to cancel Aeroplan bookings within 24 hours and receive a full refund of the miles and fees paid effective immediately. This aligns with the standard rule for paid Air Canada flights where you cancel with no fee within 24 hours. If you had booked your flight via the Aeroplan call centre the $30 service is not refunded however.

2. Receive a refund for your Aeroplan flights up to 2 hours prior to departure

Another change that is effective immediately allows you to cancel your flight reward up to 2 hours prior to departure and receive a refund of your miles and fees albeit with a fee. Previously the refund rule only applied to bookings if you cancelled up to 21 days prior to departure. If you cancelled within 21 days you could only apply those miles and fees towards travel within a year.

3. Reduction of the refund fee

The Aeroplan fee charged to cancel flight rewards has now been dropped to $125 if you complete it online. Phone in to cancel and it will cost you $150. Top tier Aeroplan Diamond members will continue to be charged even less for cancelling their rewards.

4. Super Elite 100K members to receive complimentary changes and refunds

A big win for top tier elite Air Canada members, Super Elite 100K members will now have all flight reward change or cancellation fees waived. This even includes flight rewards booked prior to this change that became effective on July 15.

Those are all the positive changes to the program which in our minds are all very good changes especially the 24 hour cancellation rule and now getting your miles refunded up to 2 hours before departure.

The negative changes that are happening are being penned as temporary, which we really hope will be the case and if the way Air Canada has handled Aeroplan over the past few months then this should be the case. Citing important system upgrades that are being implemented for the launch of the new program these are two features of the program that are being suspended:

1. Stopovers on Multi-City bookings being reduced to one only

Right now you can include up to 2 stopovers or 1 stopover and 1 open jaw selection on Aeroplan flight rewards. This generous option is also known in the points and miles world as the Aeroplan mini round the world reward (Mini-RTW) where you could pretty much fly around the world for the cost of only one round trip ticket.  As of September 1, 2019 this is being reduced to only 1 stopover or 1 stopover or 1 open jaw in addition to point of turnaround. They are also removing any stopovers for flights within the same continent except for travel wholly within North America.

2. Around the World Flight Rewards being discontinued

Aeroplan had a true Around the World Flight Reward option (not the Mini-RTW as noted above) and these reward options will be discontinued as of September 1.

Aeroplan revealed that the above two options that are being suspended only affect 0.3% of all the flight rewards that are booked annually. It is a small number and much like the increases to international business class that happened a few years ago, doesn’t affect the majority of Aeroplan members and the majority of reward bookings. Most of 5 million plus Aeroplan members are booking point to point one way or round trip flights for their vacations, visiting friends and family etc. so these last two changes won’t even affect them. Aeroplan also states they are temporary suspensions – so does that mean they will come back exactly as we know them or will they come back in some other form when the system upgrades are done? That is a question we do not have the answer to at this time. One would hope they do bring back the 2 stopover option seeing that it is only such a small proportion of members who utilize it, but it is an option that makes those members utilize Aeroplan over and over again rather than seeking out other loyalty program options.

You can learn all about the Aeroplan changes here! Also feel free to let us know what you think of these changes in the comment section below.