After buying back its the Aeroplan loyalty program in 2019, Air Canada has just revealed the first part of its completely revamped loyalty program. Going forward, Aeroplan will be tightly integrated with the Air Canada brand with a few new features as well as some devaluations on the cards.
Why should Australian frequent flyers care? If you recall, this year Aeroplan started selling its points with a huge bonus for the first time ever. When airlines sell points at a discount, there’s usually some benefits to be had for savvy points collectors. With Aeroplan being a Star Alliance program and a redemption partner for Etihad; this opens up a raft of opportunities for Australian based Aeroplan members.
In this post:
- Key Aeroplan Facts
- New Award Chart Details
- Travel Within North America
- Travel Between North America and Atlantic zones
- Travel Between North America and Pacific zones
- Between North America and South America
- Travel Within Atlantic zone
- Travel Within Pacific zone
- Travel Between Atlantic and Pacific zones
- Travel Within South America
- Travel Between Atlantic and South America zones
- Travel Between Pacific and South America zones
- Dynamic VS Fixed
- Fuel Surcharges And Booking Fees
- New Aeroplan Stopover Rules
- Aeroplan Elite Status & Earning Miles
- Status Pass – Status Gifting
Key Aeroplan Facts
- The new program will launch on November 8, 2020. Until then, bookings will fall under the old award chart.
- If you have Aeroplan Miles, these will be converted to new Aeroplan Points at a 1:1 ratio.
- Fuel surcharges will be eliminated entirely from award flights (this is great news as previously, Aeroplan fuel surcharges were very high on specific itineraries).
- Family pooling will be introduced for both earning and spending miles. This makes it one of the few Star Alliance programs where this is possible (Aegean Miles + Bonus and ANA Mileage Club also offer this feature)
- The new award chart will be a hybrid model between zone and distance-based charts. Thankfully partner airlines will all be classed under fixed pricing whereas Air Canada operated flights will be priced dynamically based on demand.
- Aeroplan Elite will replace air Canada Altitude as the new status program. Thus further integrates Aeroplan and Air Canada instead of having 2 different brands.
New Award Chart Details
The new Aeroplan award chart or rather charts will consist of 10 separate editions covering every possible zone combination. There’s a chart for travel within each zone and an additional 3 for travel between the origin zone and other zones that are defined by North America, Atlantic, Pacific and South America. The chart is also divided by distance and class so you will need to use an air mileage calculator tool such as GCMap to figure out the points required for your itinerary.
The charts are for one-way flights only so if you wanted a return flight, simply double the points required.
Travel Within North America
Travel Between North America and Atlantic zones
Travel Between North America and Pacific zones
Between North America and South America
Travel Within Atlantic zone
Travel Within Pacific zone
Travel Between Atlantic and Pacific zones
Travel Within South America
Travel Between Atlantic and South America zones
Travel Between Pacific and South America zones
Dynamic VS Fixed
Dynamic pricing is the kryptonite for most hardcore frequent flyers who understand how programs work. However, for the average user, it’s a significant change since it means all unsold seats on an Air Canada flight will be redeemable with points. The pricing, in this case, will depend on demand, so if a flight is busy, prices will be higher.
Seat availability on the 26 Star Alliance partners will be sold on a fixed pricing model which is excellent news. The same goes for Air Canada’s non-alliance partners such as Etihad and Canadian North. All these airlines will release seats based on capacity, so use a tool such as Expert Flyer when you can’t find seats (it will alert you when space becomes available).
Fuel Surcharges And Booking Fees
Fuel surcharges will be scrapped entirely, which is great news, especially for flights operated by Air Canada where previous surcharges were slightly over the top. The same goes for partner airlines such as Lufthansa, ANA etc.
With the removal of the fuel surcharges, we do get a new booking fee for partner redemptions. Set at an acceptable rate of $39 for partner airline bookings and $30 if you book any award over the phone.
Cancellation fees are based on the type of fare you booked and range from $25 all the way to $175. The price is also dependant on how you cancel, with online cancellations attracting a lower fee compared to phone cancellations.
New Aeroplan Stopover Rules
For an additional 5,000 points, Aeroplan members can include a stopover in their one-way itinerary. The miles required will be based on the chart from your origin to your final destination by using the miles flown based on your actual routing. For example, you could fly from Sydney to Los Angeles with a stopover in Paris. This route would come to 16,197 mi for which we would rely on the “North American – Pacific Zone” chart. Based on this information we can work out that a first class ticket would cost 140,000 + 5,000 points, business class would come in at 105,000 + 5,000 points, and economy would be 75,000 + 5,000 points.
If however, your stopover is shorter than 24h, there is no additional cost.
Since Aeroplan reward charts are priced out as one way, you could plan a stopover route on your return flight via an entirely different continent; essentially creating a round the world flight of sorts.
Aeroplan Elite Status & Earning Miles
Air Canada Altitude is being rebranded to Aeroplan Elite which is a Star Alliance program. The way one can earn Aeroplan Elite remains pretty much the same. Personally, I don’t think Aeroplan Elite is worth chasing if you’re based in Australia/Asia, and there are better programs such as Aegean Miles & Bonus or Singapore Airlines. This is mostly because Aeroplan Elite will still require specific spending criteria with the Canadian Airline – or at least with Star Alliance issued on Air Canada stock. If you are interested in chasing Aeroplan Elite, check out the excellent post my friend Ricky from Prince of Travel wrote here.
Status Pass – Status Gifting
From March 2021, Aeroplan will introduce Status Pass to its members who are at least 50k or higher. Members can give a status pass to anyone they want, friends, family or even colleagues. It also applies to parties of up to 9 people travelling together. Status gifting is only valid when flying Air Canada though, so it’s rather useless if you thought of using it for another Star Alliance flight.
Air Canada’s New Aeroplan Conclusion
I think this is a good step forward for Aeroplan, especially for those who’ve been watching the Canadian frequent flyer program from the sidelines. With bonus sales and interesting award charts on offer, Aeroplan is certainly a viable alternative for those who also value LifeMiles and the likes.
The current Aeroplan site is clunky and not very usable at best, but Air Canada promises some big changes as the program integrates with the flagship carrier.