Aeroplan, Air Canada’s frequent flyer program, has always been a bit illogical with some of their policies. One of them has been that they imposed fuel surcharges on award tickets for travel on Air Canada, while they didn’t impose fuel surcharges on award tickets for travel on Star Alliance partner airlines.
If you usually redeem miles with US airlines you’re probably used to only paying reasonable taxes on award tickets, while if you’ve redeemed miles of a foreign loyalty program (British Airways, Lufthansa, ANA, etc.), you’ve probably noticed that a longhaul flight can cost you $500+ in fuel surcharges/taxes.
I never understood why Aeroplan imposed fuel surcharges on Air Canada but not on Star Alliance partners, but that has been their policies for years.
Well, with absolutely no advance notice, they’ve started imposing fuel surcharges for partner redemptions, including on ANA, Asiana, Lufthansa, and Thai. So far they’re not charging them on Singapore, Swiss, and United, though that may very well change too.
Just how much will an award ticket cost you now? As an example, a roundtrip New York to Frankfurt business class award ticket will now cost you an additional $560 in fuel surcharges. And that’s just a simple roundtrip ticket from the east coast of the US to Europe.
The sad thing is that up until this year, Aeroplan literally had the best mileage redemption opportunities out there. I had taken some amazing round-the-world trips thanks to them, like this one to Istanbul and Hong Kong and this one to Singapore and Seoul.
Then back in July they literally gutted their award chart, raising the cost of many of the most popular redemptions by over 50%. Then last month they started no longer allowing one to book into domestic first class when on an international business class award ticket. And now there’s this…
Aeroplan literally went from being the best loyalty program for award redemptions to one of the worst, and it’s all in a period of five months. I understand their old award chart with low redemption costs, generous routing rules, and no fuel surcharges was unsustainable, but to make three major changes in a single year (two of them without any advance notice) is truly classless.
It’s amazing how badly those with American Express Membership Rewards points have gotten screwed this year. First three massive Aeroplan devaluations. Then Continental was removed as a transfer partner as of September 30. And now in a week British Airways is massively devaluing their award chart for US based flyers.
What does this all translate to? There’s no way to redeem Membership Rewards points for travel on Star Alliance without paying fuel surcharges (Aeroplan and ANA both impose fuel surcharges). There’s no way to redeem miles at a reasonable rate for travel on OneWorld anymore (British Airways is devaluing their award chart). So that leaves transfers to Delta SkyPesos. Exactly what most people recommend not using your miles.
If American Express Membership Rewards wants to remain even a remotely decent loyalty program, they better get working fast, negotiating with Alaska, American, and/or US Airways.
Day by day the value of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card increases, which is what I’m switching just about all of my spend to.
(Tip of the hat to Gary)