The much anticipated launch of AIR MILES new flight booking platform has finally happened! The new booking platform was first announced back in early October as part of a wider swath of changes to the programs however is the Flight portion where the biggest changes are happening! We covered most of what would be expected from the new AIR MILES Flights before but now have further details and insight into them.
As we reported in October the new AIR MILES Flights booking platform will operate as follows (just a quick outline as I didn’t want to rehash everything here again)
- Completely dynamic pricing (gone are the reward charts and zones) which means the amount of miles required will follow the cash price of the ticket. Cheaper fares will require less miles, expensive fares will require more miles
- You can choose to either pay cash (well with a credit card) or with miles for your flights. AIR MILES Flights displays both options for you
- If you do pay with cash you will earn AIR MILES Rewards Miles for booking those flights via AIR MILES Flights. And to celebrate the launch of the new platform all eligible cash bookings will earn 200 bonus AIR MILES Reward Miles for flights booked by January 31, 2022.
- You can redeem miles for any seat on a flight. So long as seats are available and for sale, you can redeem miles for them. No more limited access like before
- You can redeem miles for any cabin – that is you can redeem for Economy, Premium Economy, Business and even First Class flights. The old system was economy class flights only unless you had the American Express AIR MILES Reserve card.
- You no longer have to fly from Canada to redeem miles. You can redeem for flights anywhere in the world. Want to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago? You can redeem your miles for that flight
- As long the flight is booked in a mileage/point earning fare class with your airline of choice you can earn frequent flyer miles and points on that flight even when redeeming your AIR MILES for it.
- BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* holders will continue to receive 15% off mileage redemption for flights in North America
- American Express AIR MILES Reserve card holders will continue to receive a companion benefit that is now worth 1,700 miles towards any companion ticket
Back in October the main question we posed was what would the per mile value be when redeeming for these new dynamically priced flights. AIR MILES told us you would see more value out of them (prior to today we valued one AIR MILE Reward Miles at 11 to 15 cents when redeeming for flights) and now we are able to put that to the test. You’ll be able to see some of our valuations below.
Some of the new things we learned just prior to today’s launch :
- If you are buying multiple tickets you can pay for some with miles and other cash (For example you are buying four tickets and only have enough miles for two, you can redeem miles for those two and pay cash for the other two) – Note this is not a Cash+Miles option like we see some other programs do. That may be a future enhancement the program will bring in.
- The new AIR MILES Flights booking platform will show you if the fares you are purchasing include baggage and/or loyalty program earning
- They have added new airline partners including Air Transat, Emirates, Etihad, Icelandair and Qatar Airways
- There are no booking fees when paying for flights with your credit card
- There is a booking fee when redeeming miles for flights. $20 for base members, $15 for Gold and Onyx members
- American Express AIR MILES Reserve card can still use miles towards taxes and fees on flights
- There will still be Gold and Onyx member discounts / tier pricing
To celebrate the launch of the AIR MILES flights, AIR MILES and several airline partners have stepped to provide discounts or other offers:
- AIR MILES is offering 200 bonus Reward Miles for flights booked and paid for with a credit card by January 31, 2022
- Air Canada is offering 15% off select destinations in all classes when book by Nov 30 for travel until Feb 28
- WestJet is offering 15% off select routes like those to London, Seattle and Orange County when you book by Nov 30
- Porter Airlines is offering 15% off all routes when you book by Dec 2
- Etihad is offering complimentary access to Dubai Expo 2020
Now, it brings us to the question many Rewards Canada readers want answered and it is the one we posed to AIR MILES back in October. That question was “what would the per mile
value be when redeeming for these new dynamically priced flights?” AIR
MILES told us we would see more value out of them with the new booking platform. In the old flight redemption system that was used prior to today we placed the value of one AIR MILE Reward Mile at 11 to 15 cents when redeemed for a flight. That’s the value that majority of members should have been receiving so we can use that as a benchmark to put the new booking platform to the test.
There were however some flight redemptions with the old AIR MILES that were definite outliers which provided huge outsized value well beyond our 11 to 15 cent range. Which leads me to the feedback from some of you who were unhappy to hear about
dynamic pricing as these are the type of flights that typically don’t do well with dynamic pricing. Namely those are when flying in Northern Canada, flying out of small
communities where there isn’t competition and for last minute
positioning flights for award flights redeemed from other programs (I
personally never had any luck finding availability with the latter one
but kudos to those who did). So we made sure to grab one such example from the old AIR MILES booking engine on November 17 so a comparison could be made.
Now as you may have guessed this post was written prior to the actual launch of the new AIR MILES Flights seeing that it was automatically scheduled to go live at 4am MT (The time zone Rewards Canada is based in) That means we have not had a chance to test out the new system yet but will do so very soon and we’ll have a follow up post dissecting the new AIR MILES Flights and answering the question on whether it does provide more value or not.
Here is our follow up post looking at the value:
The new AIR MILES Flights is here! A hands on look at the value of flights in the new program (Part 2)
More articles related to the AIR MILES changes
- AIR MILES card linked offers are here – earn more miles with ANY Canadian Mastercard
Images via AIR MILES