Air Canada Unveils Revamped Aeroplan Frequent Flyer Program, Launching On November 8th 2020

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Air Canada has previously announced that it will revamp it’s Aeroplan program and the starting date of the “New Aeroplan” is set for November 8, 2020.

Air Canada bought back Aeroplan from Aimia in January 2019 as the closing chapter after the Aeroplan program was spun off in 2005 when Air Canada was restructuring and in urgent need of cash.

When Air Canada was in need of funding they decided it’s a good idea to spin off their frequent flyer program to a company called Aimia with whom they appeared to have a 15 year contract to let them run the frequent flyer program for the airline.

In 2017 Air Canada announced that they wouldn’t renew this contract with Aimia and that they will start to run their own program again in 2020. Aimia’s stock price ended up crashing and they were pretty much on a one way street with their remaining years of Aeroplan since a FFP without an airline is just a worthless loyalty program with lots of unhappy customers that have a balance on their accounts.

There was no other choice than to sell Aeroplan back to Air Canada and this purchase was completed in January 2019 (we wrote about this here). The purchase price (pretty much a fire sale for obvious reasons) was somewhat favorable and Air Canada was able to keep the Aeroplan name for future use.

Since then Air Canada / Aeroplan has worked on a revamp of the program and the company has now unveiled the new face customers will encouter from November 8.

You can access Air Canada Aeroplan for the new program here.

A more rewarding Aeroplan program is on the horizon.

With exciting new features and benefits, get ready to travel more and travel better. Landing November 8, 2020.

The following features are being showcased as new elements of the program:

Every Air Canada seat that’s available to buy in cash, you can redeem for with points. No restrictions. No blackout periods.

We’re eliminating additional airline surcharges on flight rewards with Air Canada. That means you pay less cash when you redeem – hundreds of dollars less, in some cases.

On any Air Canada flight you purchase with points, we have eliminated additional airline surcharges. That could save you hundreds of dollars in cash at checkout. In fact, only taxes and third-party fees (such as airport fees) are listed in cash, and you can use your points to cover those, too.

If you’re booking a flight reward on another airline, there is a flat Partner Booking Fee of just $39 (per ticket) – which you can also cover with points.

Beginning later in 2021, earn based on the amount you pay for your ticket instead of the number of miles you fly. That’s why your Aeroplan Miles will be called Aeroplan points! When you fly with Air Canada, every fare option and every destination gets you points.

Points needed for Aeroplan flight rewards are now based on actual prices in market. And to help you easily and confidently make plans with your points, we’ll show you a predictable range in points you’ll likely need to redeem for a flight reward to your desired destination.

Family travel is about to get easier. You and your family members can share points for free, and redeem for rewards more quickly!

Use your Aeroplan points for popular extras like cabin upgrades and in-flight Wi-Fi for an even better travel experience.

AC Bid Upgrades: Treat yourself and stretch out in a higher cabin class.

Redeem for in-flight Wi-Fi: Coming in December 2020. Stay connected in the air without taking out your credit card.

Having an Aeroplan credit card gets you more points… and a lot more beyond! With eligible cards, get your first checked bag for free, Maple Leaf Lounge access, priority boarding and benefits at the airport. You can even get preferred pricing for flight rewards.

Use your Aeroplan points flexibly by paying for part of your flight reward with points, and the rest with cash.

  • You will have 18 months instead of 12 months before your points expire.

Effective July 20, 2020, we started waiving the current expiry provisions so that you will have an additional 6 months added on to your points expiry date. So long as you keep your account active, your points won’t expire at all – and staying active is as easy as earning or redeeming a single point within 18 months. You can find your extended expiration date today on aeroplan.com.

Here are Air Canada’s new Aeroplan Award Charts:

Download (PDF, 473KB)

Air Canada has now instituted a system where the amount of miles due for an award fluctuates based on the distance, the operating airline and seasonality/demand.

For Air Canada flights the range between miles required per one way award based on these charts varies greatly at times and I really don’t like such an unpredictable system when it comes to redeeming miles.

Partner airline flights are still static so that’s a good thing (for now).

What’s an absolute disgrace is that Aeroplan will now hit you with a $39 booking fee for all partner awards:

If you’re booking a flight reward on another airline, there is a flat Partner Booking Fee of just $39 (per ticket) – which you can also cover with points.

Note that Air Canada says in the footnote:

The details provided here are for informational purposes only and do not constitute the formal notice of changes to the program. A formal notice of the changes to the General Terms and Conditions will be communicated at a later date.

Based on this it can very well be that this won’t be the final version of the program yet and Aeroplan still has some wiggle room to amend the features.

When it comes to Elite Status, Aeroplan will also implement a range of changes.

For one there are Priority Rewards for status members giving discounts on awards as explained in the video below:

Members will be able to treat a friend to status benefits with a new feature called Status Pass.

Treat someone to Elite Status for their entire journey with a Status Pass, coming March 2021. Anyone with Aeroplan 50K Status or higher will be able to choose these new passes as one of their Select Benefits.

Travellers with a status pass enjoy premium travel services when on flights operated by Air Canada.

Give a status pass to anyone you want – a friend, a family member, or even a colleague. They can use a status pass when they’re travelling without you.

They can even share the love – the premium travel services they get with a status pass extend to up to 9 people on their reservation.

I remember something like this from the old days when Aeroplan issued transferable vouchers conferring benefits around 2002.

From the way it appears Aeroplan will retain their current credit card issuing and transfer partners in Canada and the U.S. with Canadian customers being able to select between some new credit card products issued by the local banking partners American Express, CIBC and TD Bank.

Conclusion

Some of these new features are good. I like the option of family accounts to reach award levels faster and also the elimination of surcharges for Air Canada flights. Of course this implies that partner airlines such as Lufthansa and Swiss continue to rack up high surcharges.

The earning structure being revenue based was something to be expected. The writing was on the wall and most competitors already moved to this system a long time ago so no surprise there that this will be a corner stone of the new Aeroplan program as well.

As far as redemptions of miles for items go that have a monetary value attached I’m skeptical about this. Usually it’s not a great deal at all to use something like 7000 miles for inflight wifi that would otherwise cost $29.99. Same goes for upgrade bidding, I don’t think the rates applied will be competitive.

In the end this doesn’t tell us all that much just yet. We have to be a little bit more patient to see the final version that Air Canada puts into place.

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