Loyal Air Canada’s frequent flyer miles users who have enjoyed the generous Aeroplan (Air Canada’s loyalty program) redemption structure will now need to save up on a lot more miles than has been in the past for the popular flight award tickets. Starting this summer, they will need as high as 60% more miles to cash in on free flights to popular travel destinations.
Aeroplan has just released a new award chart with the reduction Aeroplan Award Level Change Table in mileage levels for travel from US49 and Canada (North America or NA henceforth) to a select few regions already in effect from April 15, which is good news. BUT, I should add, there is also an exorbitant increase in mileage requirement to most destinations that applies for all redemptions on or after July 15. And the increase is quiet extraordinary.
Aeroplan says it’s boosting the required amount of miles by an average of five per cent starting July 15. However, based on my analysis (see included table):
- The average increase is more than 14% if you do not account those 9 awards that
have reduced mileage requirement after the change.
- Even if you include those reduced awards, the average is still above 12%.
- And if you consider only the awards from/to North America, the average increase
is whopping 20.34%.
- Even if you include the mileage reductions implemented only for travel from/to North America, the average increase is still 10%.
Generally, the changes to pricing of Air Canada awards are mainly targeting awards to/from North America for which the highest change is massive 46%. Of the 42 different award types offered in this category, 23 have been bumped up, 9 have been lowered and 10 have no change. There are some awards for which the increase isn’t too terrible and should be acceptable to most avid fans. But some awards like the premium cabin long-haul awards are definitely taking a big hit, and the once-attractive First Class long haul awards are no longer as tempting. Aeroplan has been the harshest with their popular premium cabin awards which included travel to Asia, South Pacific, Hawaii and Southern South America.
A small respite, some of the insanely high priced awards that previously existed in Aeroplan’s Star Alliance award chart do go down, but nevertheless they do are not cheap even after reduction in prices. For example:
- Coach award between NA and Asia 2 (Region south of Singapore, e.g., Bali, a popular
tourist destination) goes down to 90K miles from 95K miles.
- Coach award between NA and Middle East and North Africa goes down to 80K from previous level of 105K; Business award goes down to 150K miles to 135K miles.
- Coach, Business and First awards between NA and Rest of Africa are down to 100K, 150K and 210K from 130K, 185K and 240K respectively.
- Coach award between NA and India goes down to 100K from 130K. Business award is down to 150K from 185K and First award down to 210K from 240K.
The above listed reduction in mileage levels are not representatives of the larger list by any means. In fact, this is the list. And nearly every other award is going up, while a few remain unchanged like most awards to and from Northern South America with the exception of the one from/to North America.
Award pricing from the US and Canada:
- Business awards to majority of Asian destinations bumped up to 125K from 100K (this still a reasonably priced award, though previous level of 100K was an exceptional value) and First awards get a monstrous increase of 46%, yes 46%! That one goes up to 175K from 120K (it was a bargain worth going miles for). The levels will be higher than most other Star Alliance carriers or for that matter even most competing programs outside the alliance as well. This is a major heart-breaker for us ardent Aeroplan fans (no longer after July 15).
- Australia awards, in coach, business and first, will be 80K up from 75K, 135K up from 100K and 185K up from 140K, respectively. (Please review the corresponding table for a better understanding in terms of percentage change.)
- Business award to Western Europe jumps to 90K from 80K (this still remains an attractive award price), while First award goes up to 125K from 100K (a 25% increase, but still lower than some of the other Star Alliance carriers, this shall be addressed in the next post).
- Business award Eastern Europe like Greece will be 105K from 100K and First award will go up to 145K from 120K.
- Another smaller change is in coach award between North American and Mexico that goes up to 40K from previous cost of 35K.
- Long-haul business award within North America will be 50K miles from the previous 40K. (was an excellent value for those who mainly travelled domestically.)
I immediately called a friend upon knowing these new changes to update him on the changes. The reason being only the previous weekend, I had strongly recommended him to switch from accumulating miles on United to AC and had laid out a strategy to expedite accumulation as well maximize the redemptions. I had planned to provide the same information in my posts but it would now be a futile exercise. Because of these upcoming changes, I no longer recommend Aeroplan as a loyalty program, frequent flyer (or
otherwise as is mostly the case these days with the invasion by credit-earning option). There may still be some good reward values, mainly because of the routing and stopover rules, but the program will never be as loved (and exploited as it once was). The days of round-the-world travel to three destination in First class for 120K miles are over. Though, the opportunity still exists to make the most of your beloved AC miles. I for sure will look to use my hard earned 120K+ WorldPoints motivated purely by the obsession of earning AC miles. I will scurrying before July 15, to maximize the value of my AC miles, hoping to squeeze as many international business or first awards.
It’s been one hell of a run that I expected to end at some point. Luckily, Aeroplan will still continue offering the generous routing rules (two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw). The day that goes away will mark the death of a fantastic frequent flyer program.
The decision to adjust the mileage requirements should help lower the bloating costs of rewards in recent years, primarily because of some exceptional value offered by their popular awards. Airlines have also felt the pinch from the rising gas prices in the last few months, eventually driving up the seat cost for each airline and hurtin g their revenues.
Aeroplan continues to offer flight rewards that are still amongst the best value in the industry because of its generous (read lax) routing rules and stopover/open jaw rules. This change now brings Aerplan’s mileage levels more in-sync with other mileage levels for North American star alliance carriers’ programs. For the next post, I will offer some analysis and comparison of Aeroplan’s pre-change and post-change award table with one or more of the other North American carriers.
In next few posts, I will also discuss how to maximize the returns on your AC miles, but you will have to jump on the ship before July 15 when the new increased levels come into effect.