Aeroplan’s Confusing 2020 Updates

Filed Under: Air Canada

Yesterday Aeroplan sent out an email to members that has caused a fair bit of confusion. The email had the subject line “Upcoming changes to our Terms and Conditions.”

I think the reason it caused such confusion is because it seems like this should have been an announcement email, rather than just an email updating terms & conditions, since there was some info in there that caught people off guard. So I figured I’d summarize what actually matters about this announcement.

Air Canada Launching New Loyalty Program Soon

Aeroplan has historically been Air Canada’s spun off loyalty program. That contract between Air Canada and Aeroplan was expected to end in 2020, as Air Canada was planning on fully taking control of their own frequent flyer program once again. However, Air Canada ended up acquiring Aeroplan.

Ultimately Air Canada was probably trying to eliminate a competitor, get valuable data, and use some of Aeroplan’s technology to make the transition easier, as Air Canada will still be launching a new loyalty program in the summer of 2020. So it won’t be “business as usual” for Aeroplan, or for Air Canada’s Altitude program.

Aeroplan Status Is Being Discontinued

Aeroplan has made some major updates to terms as of March 1, 2020. One major update is that separate from Air Canada’s Altitude status, Aeroplan has historically also offered a status program. The benefits aren’t as robust, and you’ll want to think of it more as a frequent buyer program than a frequent flyer program.

Historically Aeroplan status tiers have been as follows, with the following requirements over the course of a calendar year:

  • Aeroplan diamond requires 100,000 eligible miles accumulated
  • Aeroplan black requires 50,000 eligible miles accumulated
  • Aeroplan silver requires 25,000 eligible miles accumulated

If you earn status in 2019 it will still be valid through the end of 2020.

However, if you want to earn this status in 2020 (valid through the end of 2021), you’ll have to do so between January 1 and February 29, 2020. The requirements will be the same, as you’ll still have to earn 25,000-100,000 eligible miles to qualify.

A lot of people are shocked by this, but I think the reality is that they don’t really intend for many people to qualify in 2020, but rather they probably have to legally provide some sort of advance notice of ending the program, so this is the most practical way for them to do so.

So no, Aeroplan hasn’t totally lost their mind. They probably don’t actually intend for people to earn the normal 12 month qualification amounts in the first two months of 2020, but I’m guessing that’s what they needed to offer to wind this program down.

Redeem Miles For Taxes & Surcharges

Air Canada adds carrier imposed surcharges to redemptions on many partner airlines. According to this email, as of March 1, 2020, you’ll be able to redeem miles towards taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges on award tickets:

11.1. For new flight reward bookings, an Aeroplan Member may have the option to: (i) have the applicable Taxes, Fees, Charges and Surcharges associated with their flight reward booking charged to a credit card, or, (ii) if eligible, redeem Aeroplan Miles to cover the applicable Taxes, Fees, Charges and Surcharges associated with their flight reward booking.

I’m not really sure I get what’s changing, though, because this is already possible? You can already redeem Aeroplan miles towards taxes, fees, and surcharges at the rate of about one Aeroplan mile per 0.7 cents, which is an awful value.

Even if they change some aspect of this, I wouldn’t get excited. There’s not a single airline in the world that I can think of where redeeming points towards taxes and carrier imposed surcharges represents a good deal.

My hope is still that Air Canada eliminates surcharges with their new program, though unfortunately I’m not holding my breath.

Details About The New Air Canada Program Are Limited

As mentioned above, Air Canada will be launching a new loyalty program in the summer of 2020, though details continue to be extremely limited. We really don’t know what the new program will look like, so all we can do is wait.

They have great people running the program and I certainly hope that they try something unique and rewarding. My fear is that there’s simply not much competition in the Canadian market, especially with Air Canada having acquired Aeroplan, so their incentive to offer a great program is pretty minimal, in my opinion.

Heck, even in the US, which is significantly more competitive, we can’t get an airline to actually put any effort into their loyalty program.

Bottom Line

The latest updates to Aeroplan aren’t that huge, though they can be confusing. The Aeroplan status program will be winding down, which was expected all along, given that everything will be folded into Air Canada’s loyalty program.

Comments
  1. Thanks for showing the AC plane in the snow, it helps to add to the stereotype most of the world has of us Canadians.

  2. Most Aeroplan members will find these changes irrelevant as the benefits were of such limited practical use (discounts on Rewards based on AC operated flight Market Fares as opposed to the typically more attractive Reward Chart i.e. Star Alliance flights. and some rather limited hotel and bonus benefits).

  3. @TwoTollers
    What are you complaining about? I was in Canada earlier this week and it was *bitterly* cold and, er, snowing?

  4. @The nice Paul your post reminds me of a USAir flight attendant’s announcement upon landing, which included “Have a nice day, here in the Canada area”.

    I was in the United States of America recently. It was windy and wet.
    I hate windy and wet.
    I’m cancelling my trip to Phoenix.

    Have a nice day, wherever you are, exactly.

  5. Nah, it’s different. TwoTollers was complaining that a picture showing snow in Canada was “stereotyping”.

    I was trying (and clearly failing) to point out that it’s often snowy in Canada.

    Therefore it’s not a stereotype so much as a reflection of a reality.

    Not the only one, of course: I was in Vancouver the week before and it was rainy. Would showing a picture of a plane in the rain at Vancouver be a stereotype or an accurate reflection?

    I guess if the *only* image Lucky ever used for Canada showed snow then the accusation might be true. But I’d like to see the data before condemning him.

  6. Bottom line should read: Anyone who tries to spend $25,000 – 100,000 (who wouldn’t normally spend that amount in two months) to reach status of something that’s of little or no value is a putz.

    There. Fixed. /s

  7. Air Canada and by extension the new Aeroplan are constantly looking for ways to charge more, provide less and convince the gullible. This airline should be avoided at all costs. Apart from some business class travel from the Western USA via Vancouver that is affordable, any other interaction with this airline is pointless. They even have an extra fee you can opt into when buying a ticket that means when the (inevitable) IROPS happen, you have the ability to call a phone number rather than have to figure it out online. Aeroplan is not a frequent flyer program it is a credit card marketing scheme. They have had a computer issue for over 15 years about using miles to book flights that when you hit CONFIRM, it will say you have taken too long and they are logging you out. The only recourse is to call and book using a phone rep which also has a $75 dollar fee.

  8. This program is effectively dead. They no longer allow you to call in and force feed them segments, you are forced to use the routing you get online. If this isnt the end of the program I dont know what is.

  9. Thanks for this clarification – I admittedly didn’t get what they were on about with the Aeroplan status dates for 2020, since I’d already thought they were killing separate status. Their status has always been pointless for the most part, anyways.

  10. @EthFyler – you just got a jackass of a call centre agent. Anytime I’ve been told “no” to a customized routing that I’d pulled together, I just hang up and call back, and magically, the next agent is able to do it no problem. A few weeks ago, I went through this exact process.

  11. Everything seems pretty FUBAR for now

    1. For the first time in 5 years we didn’t get TSA Precheck for our flight tomorrow (even though I have GE). I understand it’s not guaranteed but …

    2. Logged into my profile and sure enough my Trusted Traveler number and other details were gone

    3. There also is an issue with my FF number where they have my name now as Wendymrs Surname

    4. Decided to call and a recording come on saying wait times are OVER AN HOUR. That is unacceptable

  12. @The nice Paul said “I was in Vancouver the week before and it was rainy. Would showing a picture of a plane in the rain at Vancouver be a stereotype or an accurate reflection?”

    Yes, it would be because it rains in Vancouver from November to April.

    @Paul S.

    I have been a member of Aeroplan for over 20 years and have never had to call the Aeroplan Call Centre. I have ALWAYS been able to complete the bookings online. Do I like the nickle and diming of the Aeroplan program? No but I usually get the flights I want on Air Canada and Star Alliance.

  13. @Canadian Platinum

    It is only an issue if you have a US mailing address. I have been an Aeroplan member for 19 years and have had to call for a couple of things, including this sporadic error. I won’t bore you with the details but they used to be slightly better than regular AC phone number. Hours on hold then you are met with indifference.

    There was a guy on Flyertalk who swears he waited on hold for 90 minutes to book a flight from Calgary to Victoria which only took 65 minutes to cover the distance.

    But my favorite Aeroplan story is when they rolled out the revenue linked miles and got rid of one mile per mile flown. A guy in Quebec City flew to Montreal on Rouge, he filled his car up at Esso on the way to the airport and earned 70 Aeroplan miles, the flight to Montreal he earned 32 miles. You couldn’t make this stuff up. The guy earned more miles buying gas for the car to get to the airport than he did flying. That sums up Aeroplan to a perfect.

    Avoid this airline at almost all costs. Oh and if you ever meet someone who comments on how nice people in Canada are…..they have never flown Air Canada. Canada is a great country with nice people, the people who aren’t nice are recruited into Air Canada ‘customer service’ roles.

    …….and finally, they were the airline that came up with the line that has continued to bedevil airline passengers for years. The “FA’s are primarily here for your safety”. Air Canada was the first to come up with that chestnut

  14. At this point I fear for the future. When I read the Aeroplan notice I came to the same conclusion that the two month window was just so they could dump the progrram and avoid the lawsuit that ensued when AirMiles changed their rewards program massively. The result was a lawsuit in Ontarion that made them go back on their change (unfortunately after I had dumped 7000 AirMiles that were about to expire).

    Yesterday I wanted to book a flight to Beijing and the classic flight rate was for 75,000 miles (which used to be the price to Cape Town) for mixed economy and business. The Market Fare rate came it at 79,800.

    I was dumping my miles so I think I had better find a way to use them as huge increases appear to be on the horizon.

    I have always had to use the call centre to book flights segment by segment to avoid the Automatic YQ fares that the computer always stuffs down your throat. Hopefully HUCA will work so that we can still fine routings with Swiss, SAA, United, EVA and others.

    When we had problems with Aeroplan wait time I called Germany and talked with Sean. A complicated flight was booked within 15 minutes with no wait. Total cost was about $0.60 for the phone call. I have heard rumours that offshore offices are now closed but it used to be a great work-around.

  15. I have to say I was confused by this, as well. They announced some time ago that Aeroplan status was being phased out. Actually, I was surprised it was even theoretically possible to earn this status for 2021, as I had understood it was to be gone by the end of 2020. But as others have pointed out, this status is not of much value or interest. It’s Altitude status that matters.

    But I disagree with the negative comments about AC. I suppose being SE doesn’t hurt, but I find the cabin crews just fine. It’s very rare that I have a bad flight on AC.

  16. Air Canada is consistently the best airline in North America. There must be good reasons for this.
    I agree with YULtide, I have always experienced excellent crew on AC. I treat people the same way as I would treat others, polite and non demanding. Typical Canadian, eh?

  17. @Canadian Platinum

    You do not seriously believe AC is the best airline in North America….right? The single, sole and only reason is Canadians will consistently band together to vote for the hometown company. Canadians have a superiority/inferiority complex with the US and will always trumpet Canadian superiority while sitting at home watching US TV. I lived in Winnipeg (I know, I know, the snow) for four years and if a US or British band came to town it was an event, now if a Canadian band came to town, it was “just a Canadian band”.

    Same with sports, if the Tiger-Cats came to town to play a CFL game, it was just another game, but if the Winnipeg Thunder played Fargo, it was an event.

    Do not delude yourself and believe AC is the best airline in North America. Please, you are smarter than that and you know exactly what I am talking about.

  18. @Paul S

    Seriously – you obviously do not like seat back entertainment, food that is edible, seats that are comfortable and a lounge system that you can actually use as a passenger without having to purchase a pass even though you are flying J? And clean planes that are younger than your mother?

    Get serious. I hate Air Canada for putting Canadian Airlines out of business back when they were owned by the (Quebec influenced) Federal Government by loss leading every profitable route and denying Europe to CP. But that doesn’t prevent me from ranking them higher than any other North American airline.

  19. Ben, on a slightly different note, since you and Ford enjoy going to different island destinations, would you consider doing a review of YYZ-HNL or YYZ-OGG on the Air Canada flights that are currently being operated by an Omni International 767-200? Come on, you know you want to try the Business product. 🙂

  20. To those of you who say AC is the best airline in North America – get a grip. They are expensive, the service is mediocre, and their mileage program (as you can tell from the above) sucks. They may be slightly ahead of AA, but DL beats them easily, and even UA beats them out on network and a (still) vastly superior mileage program. But anyway, you guys up north, keep believing in AC and enjoy your market’s extortionist monopoly fares – once AC acquires TS, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet lol!

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