Air Canada hasn’t exactly been the most forthcoming airline when it comes to refunds in situations where they cancelled flights throughout this pandemic.
However, the airline has just introduced a generous new policy for those who book a ticket with Air Canada and want to make a voluntary change down the road. While it’s perhaps not as generous as Qatar Airways’ policy, I do think it will give a lot of people peace of mind when booking Air Canada tickets.
Convert Air Canada tickets into vouchers or miles
As is the case with many airlines, Air Canada is offering added flexibility for those who make new reservations. The airline is allowing a free one-time change without a fee for all tickets issued through June 30, 2020, even for travel after that date. As such that policy is pretty standard.
What’s great is the flexibility you get beyond that. As of June 15, 2020, if you choose to cancel your booking for any reason up to two hours before departure, you can choose from one of the following options:
- Convert your ticket into an Air Canada Travel Voucher that is fully transferrable and never expires
- Convert your ticket value into Aeroplan miles, and get an additional 65% bonus, which is like buying Aeroplan miles for $0.013 USD each
For anyone wondering how that number is arrived at for the Aeroplan miles conversion offer, Aeroplan recently started selling miles, and the base rate is $0.03 CAD per mile. So when you add a 65% bonus that’s $0.018 CAD per mile, and when you convert that USD it’s $0.013 USD per mile.
Why this is a generous offer
If customers are going to feel comfortable speculatively booking travel right now, they need some reassurance. That needs to go beyond a voucher that’s valid for just one year, since at this point no one knows what the future will look like.
That’s why Air Canada’s initiative is so great:
- A transferrable voucher with no expiration date is as good as it gets
- Being able to convert tickets into Aeroplan miles at $0.013 USD each is a good rate, as it’s a lower rate than how I value Aeroplan miles
Just to give an example of how valuable the Aeroplan conversion option could be, you could convert a $750 ticket into Aeroplan miles, and then you’d have enough miles for a one-way business class ticket to Europe, including on carriers like Turkish Airlines.
Air Canada has an incredibly generous new policy for those booking tickets with the airline. Tickets that are voluntarily cancelled can either be converted into a transferrable voucher with no expiration date, or can be converted into Aeroplan miles at ~1.3 US cents each. That’s a cost at which I’d consider outright buying Aeroplan miles, so that’s a great offer.
Unfortunately Air Canada hasn’t been nearly as industry-leading with involuntary ticket changes. In cases where they’ve cancelled flights they’ve in many cases continued to avoid offering refunds, even when mandated by government regulations.
What do you make of Air Canada’s new voluntary change policy, and would you like to see other airlines follow?