Dear Aeroplan: Is Anyone There?

Filed Under: Air Canada, Swiss

12 days ago there was a brief period where Swiss first class award availability was bookable using Star Alliance miles. While Swiss has generally restricted first class awards to Miles & More elite members since 2013, this isn’t the first time since then that they’ve released space, and the precedent was certainly that they’d honor such tickets (I flew Swiss first class from Zurich to Los Angeles a bit over a year ago under similar circumstances).

However, for whatever reason this time around Swiss decided they didn’t want to honor the tickets. Most people who booked these award tickets booked through Aeroplan, which is Air Canada’s spun off frequent flyer program.

I’m going to assume that Aeroplan (and Air Canada) did everything they could to pressure Swiss to honor these tickets. Swiss is an unbelievably arrogant airline, and it’s completely within character for them to do whatever the heck they want. So I don’t blame Aeroplan for the mistake, and certainly don’t plan on pursuing any sort of action against them. I have filed a DOT complaint, with the goal of seeing what Swiss has to say about this.

But I do have a major bone to pick with how Aeroplan has handled this situation. It has been 12 days since people booked these award tickets. I don’t know about others, but they haven’t contacted me to inform me that these tickets wouldn’t be honored. While many people individually noticed that Swiss was canceling their tickets, to me it’s ridiculous that they didn’t tell members “there are issues with the tickets, please be patient,” or anything. Instead they just haven’t communicated at all.

Six days ago Aeroplan released a statement to bloggers saying the following (and while the statement is appreciated, this isn’t a substitute for direct communication):

Over the next few days, our agents will be contacting each member to personally arrange first or business class redemptions on another Star Alliance carrier or to reinstate miles free of charge.

Up until Sunday night I wasn’t contacted at all. And my contact from them yesterday wasn’t a phone call asking whether I want my miles reinstated or working with me to find another option. Instead, it was just a blank email with a new e-ticket receipt attached, without any explanation of what was going on.

I get that this was largely out of Aeroplan’s control, and I get that they’re probably as frustrated as we are. But 12 days later not having any sort of a phone call or email explaining what happened, is unacceptable. And on top of that, just emailing a new e-ticket receipt without an explanation is ridiculous. Oh, and they also haven’t refunded the difference between a first class award and business class award (not that I plan on taking this routing via Calgary with a layover of nearly four hours and then a layover of over 6.5 hours, when I previously had a one-stop routing).

To those of you who also booked these tickets, has Aeroplan reached out to you? Am I the only one that thinks it’s ridiculous that they haven’t reached out to members in any sort of a substantial way?

  1. Typical Aeroplan, still fighting them to credit miles flown with SAA in March of 2017 (on only 1 out of 4 legs)… No communication from them on that front either.

  2. Aeroplan did contact me on Dec. 8 and they opened up space on Air Canada Business Class but only after I demanded to speak to a supervisor after the first agent said they couldn’t open up space.

  3. I’m in the exact same situation. They haven’t contacted me other than to issue me a new ticket on an inferior airline.

    I am not pleased.

  4. Certain people used Aeroplan to intentionally take advantage of mistake awards on Swiss. Consider that as the busy holiday season approaches maybe they have other genuinely serious customer service issues that are a little more important and rightly take priority over people trying to game the system.

  5. Ha-ha. As a largely captive Canadian user of Aeroplan, I was struck by this comment:

    “not that I plan on taking this routing via Calgary with a layover of nearly four hours and then a layover of over 6.5 hours, when I previously had a one-stop routing”

    The funny thing is they probably thought they did you a HUGE FAVOUR by not requiring you to spend the night in Calgary, or even better, sending you to Toronto via Saskatoon and Winnipeg first , before going on to London. Just check out some of the absurd itineraries that Aeroplan reward searches spit out at you if you don’t believe me.

  6. I had reached out to them which my ticket initially had segments dropped and I told the Supervisor explicitly “DONT TOUCH MY TICKET” until the DOT ruling because they were unsure what would happen/were unwilling to do anything.

    Instead without any communication they threw me on Air China in First, 3 days after my communication with them with an 11 hour layover.

    I was able to re-route to get back on SWISS in J, but with an overnight in Zurich before continuing on. When I asked them about delay compensation they told me to pound sand and file a claim with my credit card.

    Clearly Aeroplan doesn’t care about consumers anymore. Their contract with Air Canada is coming to an end and they are trying to salvage what is left of the company instead of fighting for consumer rights. I hope that SWISS is happy they get to leave this black mark on their partner. I wish Star Alliance had some pull to help the situation but the only thing that can make this shitty situation marginally better would be the DOT stepping in.

  7. Aeroplan called me about 1 of 2 tickets but the other ticket – they just randomly changed the other itinerary without saying anything.

    I called them and they said they couldn’t open up space on Air Canada – not super helpful – and that management has already decided on it

  8. Same thing happened to me. They handled the communication part of this really poorly and it took me waiting 45 minutes on the phone to get an agent.

    I called Aeroplan after getting an email of my “revised” booking and they weren’t really able to help with opening up new routes (other than switching my departure airport from GVA to ZRH). They did refund the difference between F and J to my Amex at my request and also to not charge me any change fees if I alter the award in the future.I asked about whether this qualified under EU261 and the agent had no idea but said no compensation was being offered.

    But bottom line, they showed no ability to open up new award space (save for possibly AC). I’m not that impacted by this whole process as I was probably going to book a similiar version of my “NEW” itinerary BEFORE the Swiss F opened up, but I really resent having to constantly recheck my “confirmed” ticket status and chase Aeroplan down after an involuntary downgrade/rerouting.

  9. If you’re dealing with a Swiss J rebooking versus AC J rebooking:

    For those who feel that AC J is worse than Swiss J. In my experience, it is not. The food isn’t much/any better on Swiss, the service is incredibly slow, the IFE is not as good (small/old screens, and includes FAR more advertising) and the seating layout is inferior. Yes, there’s WIFI but its expensive. The only benefit is the Swiss lounge in ZRH.

    Obviously Swiss F is in a totally different league, but that’s not happening.

  10. Anyone have an aeroplan email that is answered? My problem is refunding aeroplan miles for SAU awards which sometimes get stuck.

  11. I had two business class seats on Swiss for June, and replaced them with first class on Swiss the day they were available.

    I have received no communications from Aeroplan. My reservation shows no flights on their website. The Swiss Business class seats appear to be unavailable.

    Isn’t there some oversight board within Star Alliance to make sure all the members play nice with each other, and not give the entire alliance a bad name?

  12. On the upside, a 6.5-hr layover at Heathrow is really much shorter than that by the time you walk a few miles and deal with transfer security…

  13. If you continue to say that you won’t seek legal action then they aren’t worried. You have to be willing to do something. Otherwise it’s nothing more than empty threats and I would ignore you too.

  14. Why would anyone think that AC J is an acceptable replacement (never mind the routing)
    That really is scraping the bottom of *A business class offerings.

  15. To be fair, Aeroplan has more important things to worry about this holiday season than some bloggers trying to score tickets on SWISS when it explicitly says no redemptions are allowed for First. SWISS should be taking the heat here, not Aeroplan which could honestly do absolutely nothing considering they are on their last legs. At least you’re not as bad as Matthew!

  16. They called me on the 8th as well. Declined all options that were given to me. Mostly mix of J and Y (with possibility to upgrade at the gate) or 3 stops with long connections. They told me that if I would accept J, I would need to pay if O availibity becomes available. Some has received themessage they could do unlimited free changes… I ended choosing keeping an empty award reservation (no flight in the booking) and will decide later hopefully after DOT’s answer.

    I get that Aeroplan and AC are in a difficult situation but the lack of of communication in this is shameful. Hopefully, there will be something on this in the DOT’s answer…

    AC made some significant improvements in the last years that I appreciate but customer service responsiveness is still a major drawback. Let’s not talk about Aeroplan…

  17. No call, just changed to a double connection LAX to Toronto in fabulous 38 inch pitch J, then AC to FRA , layover, thence to Zurich.
    I’m so anxious I can’t wait……to take a xanax.

    Filed DOT complaint.

    At times like this I wish I had a law degree…..then i come to my senses and realize I would have been disbarred for failing to meet deadlines decades ago.

    I’ll set 30 expert flyer alerts and hope DOT does something.
    In the meantime I’ll campaign to fine some more Swiss banks a few hundred billion and not buy my annual gold Rolex .
    Anyone want to melt a bunch of Swiss chocolates in front of the embassy while drinking swiss made diet cocoa (cuz it’s not actually Swiss) ?

  18. “Swiss is an unbelievably arrogant airline, and it’s completely within character for them to do whatever the heck they want.”

    Sorry Ben I am going to have to finally write something negative on your blog. That’s just an absurd statement. You are being arrogant in this case. You wanted a first-class ticket using your Aeroplan miles and I totally get that you want to exert maximum pressure wherever and however you can to get it. But they didn’t intend for you to get it, and it looks like you’re not going to get it.

    In 2017 I paid for every Swiss ticket I flew — five of them — and all of them were fantastic on-time flights from Zürich to various destinations around Europe. Never did I once encounter anyone arrogant — except Lufthansa corporate, which controls Miles & More, and is totally “gnausig” (look it up) when it comes to awarding miles for flights flown. (But whatever, I gave up on trying to claw the 125 miles for the flight ticketed on LX but operated by Edelweiss.)

    Also looking back at your review of Zürich airport I can only hope your next experiences will be on Swiss within Europe so you can get a better sense of why this is one of the world’s best airports and so easy to navigate. Going via the dreaded E gates to/from North America isn’t Zürich at its best.

    Hopefully in 2018 after this tempest in a teacup settles you’ll reconsider.

    Thanks for listening.

  19. They changed my ticket to a Biz/Eco ticket with a 12 hour layover vs. direct. I filed complaints with BBB, DOT is next. Since my flight isn’t until July, I will keep pushing for a change.

  20. I personally blame Aeroplan more than I blame Swiss.
    A friend who booked his Swiss F via MilesandMore still has his ticket intact.
    I hear that people who booked via United also have their tickets intact.
    So it’s Aeroplan-specific.
    And it’s Aeroplan that allowed these tickets to be booked, and it’s Aeroplan that issued tickets, so it’s Aeroplan that has to hold its end of bargain.
    In my case – I was rebooked by Aeroplan automatically (without consulting with me) on a different flight with connection (my original was booked direct with no connections) – and even that was 9 days after I booked my original ticket.
    When I called I was basically told “take it or leave it”.
    Swiss might be arrogant and all, but I didn’t book with Swiss, I booked via their partner. That is who should be responsible.
    Had I had enough M&M miles, I would have booked via them, fuel taxes notwithstanding. I did eventually transfer SPG points to M&M and booked Swiss business class direct flight on my original route. The very SAME flight that I originally booked in F via Aeroplan. The very same flight that my friend will be flying in F because he did not book with Aeroplan.
    We all will live. Let it be the biggest of our problems ever.
    But still – in this case it’s not Swiss, it’s Aeroplan that I blame.

  21. Common there is very easy explanation here: Probably 100% of those who booked these awards are avgeeks and mileage runners. Thus they completely within the loop and exactly know what happening and what will be. So we don’t have here ‘innocent’ pax don’t knowing that their annual summer vacation will be ruined because of flight cancelation, and why nobody called them and tried to help…

  22. Lucky, either Aeroplan is doing it right, or not.

    If you said you are not pursuing any action against them, then what are you doing now? Obviously Aeroplan prioritizes people who are willing to be vocal and take action against them, than people who sits in an armchair waiting for things to happen.

    If you file a DOT complain only hoping that Swiss Air will do the right thing, but Aeroplan is not expected to do anything, you got the exact situation that you are in now.

    At least blogger Matthew is clear about what he wants. If you want Aeroplan to do the right thing with Swiss Air, state it clearly and do not hide and act as a nice guy, as all nice guys finish last, and that is your priority ranking in Aeroplan, as you have stated so.

    (i.e. if you are truly sympathetic, let us handle you last, since we have thousands and thousands of complaints to handle. If not, do not pretend you are truly sympathetic as you wanted priority too in being handled.)

    And if you felt you have been too nice, and is being taken advantaged of, and they are way too inefficient in their work, why are you not replying to DOT’s email that you will want a respond from Aeroplan too, instead of whining here, and trying to act gentleman that you are still not blaming Aeroplan, but you are actually doing so?

    I think the best way forward is to tell Aeroplan you want a response from them, so that there is another statistic in their books that Aeroplan can forward to Air Canda, Swiss Air, and Star Alliance, that the acts by Swiss Air is unacceptable.

    And if you want to act nice, be nice till the end. Write off the entire ticket and miles, and pray for a good outcome, and you can tell the story of how you finish, as a nice guy, and it will be a good read too.

  23. @Seamus agree with you 100%. T&C’s explicitly state Swiss F not allowed so I don’t get the issue here? Fellow blogger Matthew will no doubt put on a tantrum and pull the dykwia until he gets his way, as he has done in the past!

  24. The big problem is that airlines and all big companies in general have become so cheap in their behavior these days.
    Swiss First was likely available because there were made some changes to the Starnet backend system in the last weeks (that’s why it’s now possible to book awards on all programs for all airlines online). If you hire the cheapest IT guys for such a job this availability glitch is what you get.

  25. You need to fight for us. I didn’t book the Swiss F but reading the comments I feel like I also deserve a ticket. Why should super entitlement belong to only cry babies. I am ready to riot, anyone with me?

  26. Similar problem with Aeroplan Communication.

    Have been watching BR870 HKG-TPE for a year waiting for J to open (currently in Y). Opened yesterday so I phoned from South Africa to grab the seat.

    Agent says “you have a huge problem with CPT-HKG!” And starts playing while I pay for the call.

    NO COMMUNICATION!!!! They were waiting for me to arrive at the airport 6 hours later than my new flight time. No J available with the new schedule so in Y. Bloody hell!

    Pain trying to talk to the agent at Aeroplan as he states “we can’t call South Africa”! WHAT? You don’t tell me about the flight and then have the audacity to claim they can’t even call me in Africa to clarify the ticket situation!

    Aeroplan – switching rewards partner – this is no longer an occasional problem but an epidemic. Just took on SPG Amex (but fear that the new plans will cancel that card as I am Canadian). Cannot link to any of the good cards available to those in the US next year so pretty well out of options.

    Sigh – another great day in the final demise of Aeroplan!

  27. How are you guys even finding decent itineraries on aeroplan? I fly out of lax and every time I’ve tried to book them to go to Europe it wants me to fly first to Canada and then Germany in economy (with long layovers in both) and then Germany to France in business (lol) and charge me 110k miles for it. It doesn’t matter if I check as far out or as close in as possible. Nothing ever seems to open up that’s a decent nonstop.

  28. They said they would rebook customers, you got rebooked. Yes, refund pending. 6-8 weeks typical? Waiting for individual apology? Good luck.

  29. I think every carrier should include within the Conditions of Carriage, language regarding notification requirements for which the airline can adhere to. As an example, here is AA:

    Fare changes and Erroneous fares:
    AA reserves the right to cancel tickets issued with an erroneously quoted fare due to a technical failure or mistake, including but not limited to a fare filing error, computer error or third party error (either human or mechanical), prior to the erroneous fare being detected and corrected. AA, as a policy, does not intend to file fares that are erroneous or are reasonably apparent as erroneous. Where an erroneous fare has been published and a ticket issued at the erroneous fare, AA will void such ticket and notify the passenger that the ticket has been cancelled (i) within 72 hours of becoming aware of the publishing of an erroneous fare, or (ii) at least 24 hours prior to the passenger’s scheduled departure time in cases where the ticket is purchased less than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the point of origin. AA will provide a refund of the total cost of a ticket purchased at the erroneous fare price to passengers so notified.

  30. @Bob “Why would anyone think that AC J is an acceptable replacement (never mind the routing). That really is scraping the bottom of *A business class offerings.”

    That’s a bit melodramatic. I’m certainly no hardcore fan, but ACs hard product is one of the best in the industry (reverse herringbone) and consistent among almost all of their long-haul (aside from their small number of 767s and A330s which are herringbone). Try finding that on United. Yes, almost everything else about the experience is average, and there are superior business products out there (EVA, ANA, Singapore, Asiana (?)) but there are also pretty inferior ones (United – wildly inconsistent, SA, Copa, EgyptAir, Aegean, Air India, Air China). Plus, as I said…I’ve flown Swiss J and it’s not that great…certainly not measurably better than AC J.

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