New Air Canada Aeroplan Program Launches On November 8th With Lots Of Unique Benefits And Hybrid Award Charts

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Update: Air Canada has answered a question in the comments, confirming that the C$39 partner award booking fee is refundable if you cancel your award ticket. Have any other questions? Hit the comments!


In 2002 Air Canada decided to spin off its mileage program, Aeroplan, into its own entity.

Air Canada started selling it off in 2005 and completely divested of it by 2008 with Aimia running the Aeroplan program separately from Air Canada.

Experts thought that Air Canada would start a new trend, with airlines realizing big up-front bucks by spinning off their mileage programs.

But the opposite happened. The main value proposition of mileage programs is when they are integrated. That way the airlines can collect the big bucks that banks are shelling out, while offering award tickets that won’t hurt their bottom line. Over time banks have been paying higher and higher fees for miles in order to support their lucrative credit card departments.

United has been able to stay alive because they own MileagePlus and creative accounting continues to earn them billions in revenue and MileagePlus backed loans. It has become more lucrative for airlines to sell miles to banks than to sell flights, so airlines want to keep their programs in-house.

In 2018, Aimia agreed to sell Aeroplan back to Air Canada for $450 million in cash as well as the assumption of $1.9 billion of mileage liabilities. Air Canada has now taken over the program and is remaking the program.

While Air Canada has chosen to stiff customers holding cancelled flights and pick a fight with the DOT, their Aeroplan mileage program has been on a roll as it’s brought back in house.

That’s not a surprise given that 2 of my favorite former Continental executives, Scott O’Leary and Mark Nasr are running the loyalty show there now that they are bringing Aeroplan back in house. Mr. O’Leary was known as CO Insider on frequent flyer forums, where he interacted full time with frequent flyers. I met him and Mr. Nasr at the 2012 United DO in Chicago and noted how impressed I was with Mr Nasr’s in depth knowledge and how open he was about sharing information. It’s always a good thing when you have frequent flyer junkies creating a new award program!

They are completely revamping the Aeroplan program.

Recently, Aeroplan has also added new partners in Azul and Etihad, offered dirt cheap miles with elite status to boot, offered a 50% mileage rebate for domestic flights, extended their mileage expiration policy, offered mileage rebates, and allowed free award cancellations due to COVID-19.

You can continue to transfer points from AMEX to Air Canada at a 1:1 ratio, from Capital One to Air Canada at a 2:1.5 ratio, from Barclays Arrival Premier to Air Canada at a 1.7:1 ratio, ad from Marriott to Air Canada at a 60:25K ratio or a 330K:100K ratio with 7 free nights in a Marriott hotel.

A US credit card will also be launched, though the details on that are TBD.

The best news is that unlike airlines like Delta and United, Air Canada is keeping award charts. They’re making them more complicated than ever, but that’s typically a good thing for people trying to extract value from a program. Dynamic award pricing strips the value out of frequent flyer programs, so bucking the trend and keeping published award charts is fantastic news.

More good news, those pesky fuel surcharges will be eliminated with the new program. Currently there are hefty fuel surcharges if you book an award on Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI. Those can add $100, $500 or even $1,000 onto the cost of an award ticket, depending on the route.

However, that will be replaced with a C$39/ticket (currently US$28.72) award booking fee that applies when booking travel on all partner airlines. That’s a small net negative for booking travel on airlines that didn’t have a fuel surcharge, but a big net positive for other airlines with a fuel surcharge, and it’s a big win for Air Canada flights that had a fuel surcharge and won’t have any booking fee. However for people looking to redeem for United awards, this is a negative and disappointing move.

If you cancel your award booking you will get that C$39 partner booking fee refunded.

Points won’t expire as long as you have activity every 18 months. Aeroplan cardholders’ and elite members’ points won’t expire.

Another great improvement is that Air Canada will allow families to pool their miles together. Up to 8 family members can pool miles to redeem awards faster. If one member has elite status, then everyone will benefit from that elite status! You can’t pool together elite qualifying miles.

Once you join a pool, you’ll need to stay there for 3 months and you can’t join another pool for 6 months. If there is a points redemption by the pool then the points of everyone in the pool will be extended by 18 months as points are deducted from everyone proportionally. Aeroplan says they will be watching for abuse of non-related accounts joining a pool and will ask how members are related, but they won’t ask for verification of family relationship.

Awards with the new program will be bookable on AirCanada.com instead of Aeroplan.com. The Aeroplan site and app will be retired. An all new powerful flight booking tool is promised for next year.

Aeroplan used to offer 2 free stopovers on a round-trip. That was recently cut down to one, and free stopovers will be eliminated under the new program. However you will be able to add one stopover per one-way award for just 5,000 miles, though stopovers aren’t available within the US or Canada. Still, there should be a lot of value available with stopovers for 5K miles.

Air Canada won’t charge anything for lap children under 2 within the US and Canada. Outside of the US and Canada, an infant ticket can be purchased for just C$25 (currently US$18)! This applies to Air Canada and partner airlines flights. That’s a real bargain compared to the 10% of the full fare that US airlines charge, which can make lap children tickets cost prohibitive on a premium cabin award ticket.

Change fees will remain reasonable. Currently changes or redeposits cost C$125. Under the new program a change outside of 60 days of your flight will cost C$75 (currently US$55) for each way changed and within 60 days will cost C$100 (currently US$74) for each way changed. A redeposit done online will cost C$150 (currently US$110). Change fees for more expensive non-award chart tickets will be lower.

You can cancel a booking within 24 hours of making it at no charge. You can change or cancel a booking up to 2 hours before your flight.

Air Canada will launch miles+cash pricing where you can use cash to reduce the cost of an award by up to 40%. You will be able to effectively buy miles at prices as low as C1.5 cents per mile (currently US1.1 cents), which sounds like it may potentially be a great value.

Air Canada will add the ability to use miles to bid on an upgrade.

Air Canada will also launch a unique elite benefit that allows the ability to give someone elite status for the day. Continental and United used to have this all the time when you redeemed awards for someone else, but that was killed several years ago. Elites will also get the ability to earn vouchers for half off awards.

In the bad news department, Air Canada will move from distance based mileage earning to fare based mileage earning. Earning rates also seem poorer than US airlines.

Aeroplan’s current award charts are the typical region based award charts, with 14 total regions. The only distance based component is a discount on short-haul Air Canada flights within the US and Canada. Pricing in the award chart is round-trip, but you can book one-way for half the price listed:

 

Here are the new award charts, and boy are they complicated, but intriguing.

If you just want to search for the award cost between 2 cities, you can search here.

Air Canada is taking a very interesting approach to award charts. The world will be broken down into just 4 regions, North America, South America, Atlantic, and Pacific:

 

 

There are 10 award charts to sift through.

Overly complicated? Definitely.

But it’s a very interesting approach to award chart pricing. It allows Air Canada to accurately price every journey, something that is very difficult for a region based award chart and for a distance based award chart.

In other words using United’s region based award pricing, it can be too expensive to book some awards. Using BA’s distance based award chart it can also be too expensive to book some awards, NYC to Tokyo for 217K miles in business class is ridiculous and adding a connection makes it even more cost prohibitive.

By using a hybrid region and distance based award chart, Air Canada creates valuable award pricing for every route.

Each region has a distance based award chart for travel within that region and to other regions.

While BA’s distanced based award chart dings you for every connection made, Air Canada won’t charge separately for connecting segments. You will be able to create awards with out of the way stopovers, which can be quite lucrative. It may even open some interesting hidden city opportunities for cheaper awards and it means that you can build an around-the-world award on the cheap by taking advantage of 2 additional stopovers.

Additionally, Air Canada is killing off their current Maximum Permitted Mileage rules that limit how far you can fly on an award. You can add flight segments and connect in any region to get where you want to go. This will be doable online when the new award search launches next year, so at launch you’ll have to call to build an award flight like that.

Air Canada flights are listed as a range. That’s because saver awards will be the lowest rate, while other awards will be priced dynamically within the range. Elites and credit card holders will get discounted dynamic awards on Air Canada.

You will also be able to add dynamically priced Air Canada awards onto partner saver awards without paying exorbitant pricing for the itinerary. The length of the flights will be factored into calculating a fair price.

Here is the distance chart for flights within North America. Prices listed on all of the new award charts chart are one-way, but I’ll compare prices below as round-trip pricing when comparing to the current Air Canada award chart.

 

  • A round-trip flight from LaGuardia to Toronto or Montreal on Air Canada is currently 15K miles in coach or 30K miles in business, plus fuel surcharges. Under the new program it will be 12K miles in coach or 30K miles in business as it’s between 0-500 miles, plus there are no fuel surcharges!
  • A round-trip flight from Cleveland to Newark on United is currently 25K miles in coach or 50K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 12K miles in coach or 30K miles in business as it’s between 0-500 miles. That’s a sweet deal, but the new C$39 booking fee on all partner awards takes away from some of the value.
  • A round-trip flight from Chicago to LaGuardia on United is currently 25K miles in coach or 50K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 20K miles in coach or 40K miles in business as it’s between 501-1,500 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Newark on United is currently 25K miles in coach or 50K miles in business. Under the new program it remains 25K miles in coach or 50K miles in business as it’s between 1,501-2,750 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Miami to Vancouver on United is currently 25K miles in coach or 50K miles in business. Under the new program it goes up to 45K miles in coach or 70K miles in business as it’s 2,751+ miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Honolulu on United is currently 45K miles in coach or 80K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 45K miles in coach or 70K miles in business as it’s 2,751+ miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Toronto to Honolulu on Air Canada is currently 45K miles in coach or 80K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 35K miles in coach or 70K miles in business as it’s 2,751+ miles.

 

If you’re flying from North America to Europe, Africa, India, or the Middle East, you’ll have to consult this chart:

 

  • A round-trip flight from Newark to London on United is currently 60K miles in coach or 110K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 70K miles in coach or 120K miles in business as it’s between 0-4,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Frankfurt on Lufthansa is currently 60K miles in coach, 110K miles in business, or 140K miles in first class. Under the new program it will be 70K miles in coach, 120K miles in business, or 180K miles in first as it’s between 0-4,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on United is currently 80K miles in coach or 165K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 80K miles in coach or 140K miles in business as it’s between 4,001-6,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Cape Town on United is currently 100K miles in coach or 150K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 110K miles in coach or 170K miles in business as it’s between 6,001-8,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Cape Town on United is currently 100K miles in coach or 150K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 140K miles in coach or 200K miles in business as it’s 8,001+ miles.

If you’re flying from North America to the Far East or Oceania, you’ll have to consult this chart:

 

  • A round-trip flight from Seattle to Tokyo on ANA is currently 75K miles in coach, 150K miles in business, or 210K miles in first class. Under the new program it will be 70K miles in coach, 110K miles in business, or 180K miles in first as it’s between 0-5,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from JFK to Tokyo on ANA is currently 75K miles in coach, 150K miles in business, or 210K miles in first class. Under the new program it will be 100K miles in coach, 150K miles in business, or 220K miles in first as it’s between 5,001-7,500 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from JFK to Singapore on Singapore is currently 90K miles in coach, 155K miles in business, or 215K miles in first class. Under the new program it will be 120K miles in coach, 170K miles in business, or 260K miles as it’s between 7,501-11,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Sydney on United is currently 90K miles in coach or 160K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 120K miles in coach or 170K miles in business as it’s between 7,501-11,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Perth on United and Air New Zealand is currently 90K miles in coach or 160K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 150K miles in coach or 210K miles in business as it’s 11,001+ miles.

If you’re flying from North America to South America, you’ll have to consult this chart:

 

  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Bogota on United is currently 50K miles in coach or 75K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 60K miles in coach or 100K miles in business as it’s between 0-4,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Lima on United is currently 60K miles in coach or 110K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 60K miles in coach or 100K miles in business as it’s between 0-4,000 miles.
  • A round-trip flight from Newark to Sao Paulo on United is currently 60K miles in coach or 110K miles in business. Under the new program it will be 80K miles in coach or 120K miles in business as it’s between 4,501+ miles.

Overall, award rates went up by 12.7%, but there’s a lot more opportunity to get value from your miles and fuel surcharges are gone. Plus there are going to be lots of new sweet spots thanks to the distance based pricing. The main thing is that award charts are here to stay, which is excellent. Other programs have increased rates by much more than that or removed charts entirely, so this is just about as good as could be expected.

I’d love to see Air Canada add pressure to devaluing US based programs and it seems like this will do exactly that.

What do you think of the new Aeroplan program?

HT: Yehudaa, via DDF

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37 Comments On "New Air Canada Aeroplan Program Launches On November 8th With Lots Of Unique Benefits And Hybrid Award Charts"

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S

Wow excellent detailed post thanx a lot

Al

Way too complicated and what difference does it make that they have an “award chart” when there is variable pricing? The $39 fee is a total rip off. I’m sure they calculated they will make more from that fee than from the surcharges which people avoided.

joel

however i assume that fee is nonrefundable, which adds on to the cancellation fee…

yitz

Was thinking the same

bob

Is the $C39 per booking, per flight or per one-way segment?

Like all changes this will work for some and not for others. For us Canadians this is great as the pricey fuel surcharges made using Aeroplan prohibitive.

Also unclear is what will become of the other fees typically charged on an Aeroplan ticket. Currently there are sales taxes added (unless you’re a Super Elite) because AC is purchasing the ticket from AP which is a distinct company. Now that it’s all one company I’m assuming the fees will be the same as other programs such as UA. That’s how it used to be back in 2002.

Avi

Is the c39/us28 fee per way or if I book a round trip I pay only once.

ah giten

@Dan
You write that EWR to TLV will be 80k in business. According to http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=ewr-tlv it falls under the 6k mile chart, so should equal to 70k. Which is a plus.
Correct me if I’m wrong.

Y

Can you clarify why its so beneficial that they kept an award chart if the amount of miles you need varies? Currently, booking last minute short haul flights like YYZ to LGA are always 7,500 if there is availability but now wouldn’t it be much higher and likely even greater than the 6000-10000 estimated range published?

Abraham

If there’s availability it will be 6000 instead of 7500. If there isn’t availability you may be able to get it for up to 10k whereas currently you have no option if it isn’t available.

Dov

I am not sure that’s correct

Its seems as if the new program for AC operated flights will be similar to the DL model, closer to the departure date when fares are typically more expensive the higher award price will be charged regardless of saver award inventory being available

Hopefully I am wrong

AB

“The same pricing applies between the origin and destination city, regardless of routing. ”

I believe this is not true if you read the award charts here.

https://www.aircanada.com/content/dam/aircanada/portal/documents/PDF/loyalty/flight-rewards-chart-en.pdf

renorich

Excellent write-up!

> US credit card will also be launched, though the details on that are TBD
I would love to see them introduce a no-fee/low-fee credit card available in the USA to help me keep my points alive until after this COVID-19 mess.

Yochai

Are there good values from TLV to Europe or India since they’re in the same zone?

Nate

What is the latest news on Air Canada and the far north airlines first air or Canadian north? From this map, it seems like you could fly from the US to Ottawa and then on to the arctic for a good mileage price.

KSMH

@dan I believe the $30 phone booking fee will remain in place.

Thingywingy

In the email from Aeroplan yesterday, they wrote that “points needed for Aeroplan flight rewards will be based on actual market prices.” I understood that to mean they will be moving to a Delta-like model. What do they mean by “based on actual market prices”?

DL

So with no MPM then, JFK-LHR via SYD stopover, should be eligible, correct? Would that price as NA-Atlantic at the 8,001+ mile cost? or would that rice NA-Pacific//Pacific-Atlantic?

Peter

Dan, I have a question on “one stopover per one-way award”.
Is it limited to a single stopover for each way or we can add up to 4 for 5K miles each?
For example, Singapore awards allow up to 4 one-way stopovers for $100 each.

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Lap child fees for business and first staying the same fixed rate?

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