Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Disappointment abounds in the new AIR MILES Flights booking platform

Now that the new AIR MILES Flights booking platform has been out for a couple of weeks and more people including ourselves have been able to test it out further it does seem like the general consensus is that it is bringing disappointment - at least for our readers that is.

For the first few days after it launched there did appear to be some opportunities where you could get some outsized value for your miles when redeeming for travel. That is, more value than our old valuation of 11 to 15 cents per mile. That seemed to be corrected quickly by AIR MILES and now it seems extremely difficult to find any travel that exceeds that. In fact I conducted about dozen or so random searches and the highest redemption value I came across was 11.1 cents for a flight between Toronto and Winnipeg. All the rest of the searches were in the 7 to 11 cents per mile range. Some of those were with Gold member discounted pricing included! And what we hear from our readers is that they are seeing the same thing.

Rwrds reminder: The new AIR MILES Flights is here! A hands on look at the value of flights in the new program (Part 2) 

Here are some of the comments we are hearing:

I just tried searching for flights. I used to use air miles exclusively to visit my dad on the east coast. The cost of those has now tripled. I had enough air miles for 10 flights (accumulated over COVID since I couldn’t travel). Now it’s less than 3. I will be cancelling my BMO air miles world elite card as the only reason I had it was to collect miles to visit my dad. I’m extremely disappointed in this change.


I think by going completely dynamic they have taken a lot of the fun out of the program. Part of the fun for me is collecting points with my father during the big promotions. The other part of the fun was then looking for unique redemptions to use the points on. I would have never visited Victoria last year if it were not for the Air Miles program which really encouraged me to fly somewhere new and to see more of Canada. At the time it would have been really expensive to visit but the way it was set up before made seeing lesser known parts of Canada possible. You also knew that every day of the week the prices all started from a certain price and now you have to do a search of every single day over an entire month just to find a ticket. They implement dynamic pricing and don't even add a calendar search option.

I noticed over the last week or so they seem to have secretly added a bunch of new airline partners because in my searches Copa Airlines and Aeroméxico started appearing. At least they are adding partners.

I complained to Air Miles over Twitter about the devaluation and asked them to show me a decently valued redemption and their excuse is everyone is suddenly travelling. They suggested I try using the Air Miles on something else such as the shopper service. The one item I ask them to help me find and purchase and they cannot find or purchase it. They turned dream miles into a worse version of cash miles. They have taken the "dream" out of their dream miles program. Mid promotion and I am at 4 of 8 partners and I have no interest to even bother trying to finish the promotion. This devaluation is worse than the miles expiry a few years ago.

Has anyone found a new use for dream miles?


The changes to the flight benefit came out on November 18 and with no warning, they cancelled Flex-fly and while they increased the availability in the main program by switching to market pricing, it also massively increased prices. They gutted it for serious collectors who have the premium Air Miles Credit cards.

They took away the flexfly program with minus one day notice (we were notified on the 19th that the program will end on the 18th) and a business class flight from Melbourne to Vancouver for two went from 22 hours with one stop and 42682 miles INCLUDING taxes and fees to 72470 miles plus 3001 for taxes and fees and it is a crap flight with 2 stops that that goes ECONOMY to AKL then to LAX then takes a freaking Air Canada (aka Air Cram-you-in) flight to YVR and takes 30 hours. On top of that, we can only book 324 days out instead of 329 days with Flex Fly, and since Air NZ's A321neo has only ONE good seat in economy on the entire plane (instead of two on other airlines) that 4 days can be make or break (the legs). We have been planning this vacation for 8 months and had 2.5 weeks left before we could finish our booking and they have just totally screwed us over.


Tipper here for your blog to spread the word! The new Airmiles Flight redemption is complete crap. As many stated, previously each mile is worth an avg 17.2 cents/mile. Now it’s only about 11 cents per mile (almost 40% reduction in value). I tried to compare google flight’s all-inclusive price vs booking through Airmiles with Dream Miles (plus you need to pay extra tax and fees on top), it was $550 for Google but 3700 Dream miles + 140 tax/fees on Airmiles. If you do the math equivalent to cash miles, 3700/95X10=$390. Then add the $140fee = $530. There’s barely any savings. It used to be 1600-2200 miles per flight based on the same search. I saved so many Dream miles for future flight redemption at a much higher value than Cash miles. Now, it’s pretty equal to cash miles. Why bother saving Dream Miles with so many restrictive choices (merchandise, flight, etc.) I might as well take the regular Cash miles which I can take advantage of anytime I shop. Don’t need to wait for travel or random electronics on their catalog (mind you those are comparable to full-price items in-store). I could just wait for Black Friday or Boxing day for a wide selection of electronics than their limited catalog of full-priced crap. I am very disappointed but not surprised (values of these loyalty programs has gone worst year by year – pointing at you SCENE). Please share this and your thoughts, would love your input.


Also I just used airmiles new system.  I said we should use airmiles to go a funeral.  Well ... we paid 13500 from Grande Prairie to Brandon return. No funeral discount. “After the fact “ or before either.  Fri am early until Sunday noon.   Not all fares were available as with cash I was told.  I still have tears running down my cheeks. 


That didn't take long! Less than a week and pretty much all the deals are gone. All the routes I wanted to book have now more than doubled in price... so much for collecting Air Miles. It seems EVERY flight now is actually using the dynamic system now... so all the round trip deals are gone.

Another area of disappointment is not knowing how much a reward will cost! Before we had a wide range depending on the zones and distance now it takes twice as long searching to find a decent flight because every single flights is priced as if you were to pay cash. They've taken away all the simplicity of the system. I was about to book two flights to Charlettetown PE with my brother and now on every single date they have doubled in price.

I qualified for Shell Go+ and Onyx organically this last year and now they give it out for free to anyone who holds the BMO Air Miles card now. I guess next year I won't even have to try... but where's the fun in that. Part of the fun was trying to find ways to get enough miles each year. Overall not happy with the changes.

So if I have to go on what our readers are telling us, there is disappointment with the new AIR MILES flights platform. However, if I was to take a guess, the majority of AIR MILES members would say they are happy with the changes as they have a couple more opportunities to earn miles (Card linked offers being the big one), receiving elite status with their BMO cards and to actually be able to redeem for flights. The biggest issue AIR MILES had with all members (general Canadians and the enthusiasts) was not being able to find flights. It is the new flexibility, the ability to book flights outside of Canada and to be able to book business and first class fares that have inherently given the program better value. The average Canadian will be happy to see they can actually redeem for a flight between Toronto and Calgary whenever they want. And they may be super excited to see it for as little as 1,200 miles + taxes/fees when they were used to booking at amounts higher than that in the old system (and note that there are still flights higher than that between the two cities) What they don't realize is that with the flight for 1,200 miles they are getting only $80 in value (this is based on some flight searches I actually just did a few days ago). But to them that doesn't matter - they most likely aren't price shopping and are happy they got a flight by using miles. So inherently there is better value in the new flights platform. Mathematically there is not.

You also still have the option to redeem for other travel like hotels and vacation packages via AIR MILES and there does appear to be some higher value there than for flights. We did a random hotel search prior to writing this and it had a value of 11.9 cents per mile. While Vacation Packages remain at their flat rate 909 miles for $100 which works out to 11 cents per mile. Also in the past you could easily get over 20 cents in value for some car rentals so we'll check that out in the near future as at the moment car rental bookings are unavailable online as AIR MILES works to update that option.

With all this being said I have decided to adjust Rewards Canada's minimum AIR MILES Valuation of 11 cents per mile to 9.5 cents per mile when redeeming for flights. This is a full cent below the flat rate Cash Miles valuation of 10.5 cents. Overall this is unfortunate as AIR MILES had told me there will be more value per mile when I specifically asked them if we would see better value than our previous 11 to 15 cent valuation. 

Wrapping it up

If history has taught us anything, when a loyalty program moves to dynamic pricing for award flights it ends up for the most part being a devaluation of that program. Such has been the case around the world as we have seen so many airlines move to dynamic award pricing - it happened to Aeroplan when they first introduced Market Fare reward flights years ago but the relaunch of the program actually seems to have curtailed some of that. In fact, most likely due to carrier surcharges no longer being charged on Aeroplan award tickets there seems to be better value in a lot of their awards tickets - not 100% across the board as there are still some insanely high redemption requirements on some premium class flights but in general the change was big enough that we actually increased our valuation of Aeroplan points earlier this year from 1.2 to 1.5 cents per point. Alas, that does not seem to be the case here with AIR MILES based our own research and from the feedback from our readers.

We'd love to hear your comments on this and if you have conducted any searches on your own to see what values you are seeing. The more data points we have the better we can cover this topic and provide updated valuations of AIR MILES. Let us know in the comments section below.

FYI Here are some but not all of the searches I conducted:

  • YYZ-YWG Economy Apr 11 - 15, 2022: 11.1 cents
  • PHX- JFK Economy Mar 11 - 14, 2022: 9.9 cents
  • YVR-SYD Economy Oct 4 - 18, 2022: 9.85 cents
  • YEG-YYZ Economy Jun 11 - 15, 2022: 8.66 cents
  • YYZ-YVR Economy Jan 13 -16, 2022: 7.3 cents
  • YYZ-LAX Business May 22 - 29, 2022: 11 cents
  • YYC-YQR Economy Dec 24 - 27, 2021: 10.6 cents

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