I’m a big fan of the Air Canada Aeroplan program. I consider it to be one of the most useful programs for redeeming points, thanks to the program’s wide selection of airline partners, stopovers on one-way awards, and generous routing rules.
However, there’s one aspect of Aeroplan that I find to be particularly frustrating. I get messages from readers about this all the time, so I figure it’s time for a post on the topic. I praise the program a lot, so it’s only fair to also call Aeroplan out where it falls short.
In this post:
Aeroplan’s call center hold times are way too long
In my experience Aeroplan has the longest call center hold times of any frequent flyer program. Now, I can’t authoritatively say that, but I have a fair bit of experience with calling airline loyalty programs, and I’ve found that to pretty consistently be the case.
I don’t remember the last time that I’ve actually had a call to Aeroplan answered within a few minutes. Typically I find the wait time to consistently be over an hour.
It doesn’t matter if I call at 7AM on a Tuesday, or 9PM on a Friday, or 12PM on a Sunday, it’s the same story every time, with the following automated prompt:
“We are currently experiencing more calls than anticipated, the wait time to speak to us may be longer than usual. If you are not traveling within the next 48 hours, kindly consider calling us at a later time.”
I can’t help but feel like that’s a bit disingenuous:
- If you’re always getting more calls than anticipated, then the problem is likely what you’re anticipating call volume to be, rather than the actual volume of calls
- There’s nothing “longer than usual” about hold times, when you get the same prompt every time
- If I’m not traveling within the next 48 hours, I’d love to know when I should call instead?
I’m at least grateful that Aeroplan (sometimes) has a callback feature nowadays, because that didn’t used to be the case back in the day. The callback feature only calls you back once, though, so you better be sitting at your phone for one or two hours and have the ringer on.
Unfortunately sometimes you can’t even be added to the queue or use the callback feature, though. Sometimes hold times are so long that you’re told to just call back at a different time, with no option to wait.
Aeroplan’s call center isn’t open 24/7
Another thing that’s surprising to many people is that Aeroplan’s call center isn’t open 24/7. Rather it’s open daily from 7AM until 12AM ET. For an international airline loyalty program with dozens of airline partners around the globe, you’d think that you’d be able to call any hour of the day or night, should you be having issues with a ticket. But unfortunately that’s not the case.
I suppose it’s not a big deal that Aeroplan’s call center isn’t 24/7, since it’s not like you could get through to the program in a reasonable timeframe anyway.
This is a major weak point of Aeroplan
Aeroplan has invested quite a bit in tech, trying to make it easier to self-service Aeroplan reservations online. For example, Aeroplan has rolled out stopovers online, and has also rolled out ticket changes online. But the reality is that there are still many kinds of awards you can’t book online, and many types of changes that can’t be made online.
I never pick up the phone unless I absolutely have to with booking a ticket, which is what makes this so frustrating. Of course let me acknowledge a few things:
- While labor shortages are getting better compared to the early days of the pandemic, many companies are still dealing with a shortage of staff, and I imagine Aeroplan is no different
- International leisure demand is through the roof, and I imagine Aeroplan’s call volume has also increased considerably over time, even as online tech has improved
- I get that it’s probably hard for programs to justify investing in call centers, because they’re costly, and it’s hard to figure out what exactly the ROI is; that’s even tougher when you consider that the way programs generally make money is by issuing points, rather than having members redeem them
When it comes to Star Alliance programs that are lucrative, I’ve long said that I typically use LifeMiles for very straightforward one-way awards, while I use Aeroplan for slightly more complex awards. Knowing that I can’t really book many Aeroplan awards online and won’t get through by phone in a reasonable timeframe makes me book some trips through LifeMiles instead, where the “simple” redemption rates are a bit lower.
If you call Aeroplan and find yourself on hold for a very long time, it’s not just you. Unfortunately it seems to be a consistent issue with the program. Not only is the call center not 24/7, but you can expect that hold times will often be well over an hour. At least Aeroplan often has a callback feature nowadays, so that you don’t have to listen to hold music the entire time.
What has your experience been with Aeroplan call center hold times?