Important Aeroplan Changes Announced
Overall, though the changes aren’t a complete win for Aeroplan members, the modifications do seem to be mostly positive. There are four main upgrades to the program, which are effective immediately:
1. Complimentary, full refunds within 24 hours of booking
Members can now cancel a flight for free within 24 hours after booking and receive a full refund of their Aeroplan Miles. This fee-free refund option is entirely new.
2. Ability to refund flight rewards (for a fee) up to 2 hours before departure
Members can now cancel and refund their flight reward booking (Miles, taxes and fees) right up until two hours before departure, for a fee (see below). This is, in my opinion, the most significant positive win for Aeroplan users, as previously refunds were allowed only if requested up to 22 days before departure; those who requested 21 days or less before the flight were out of luck.
3. Reduction of refund fee
Air Canada reduced the refund fee for bookings made via Aeroplan.com from $150 to $125. Better yet, the reduced fee will even be applied to bookings made prior to the new announced policy amendments.
4. Complimentary changes and refunds
Air Canada Altitude Super Elite 100K members will now receive complimentary changes and refunds for their flight reward bookings.
While the above four changes are good news for Aeroplan members, there are two other negative changes that come into effect on September 1, 2019. According to Air Canada, however, the modifications will only affect “0.3% of all flight rewards booked each year” and are just “temporary suspensions.”
1. New stopover restrictions
Members will still be able make reward bookings to multiple cities, but they will only be allowed one stopover or open jaw per roundtrip. For clarification, a stopover is a bit like an extended layover—an extended stop (for days or months) in a city en route to another final destination. An open jaw is when you fly out of a different city than the one you initially landed in. Additionally, as of July 17, 2019, travel within the same continent (except for within North America) is restricted to one open jaw, with no stopovers whatsoever permitted. These adjustments unfortunately make the classic ‘Aeroplan stopover hack’ slightly less…err…hack-ish.
2. Around the world flight rewards
(itineraries with up to five stopovers and one open jaw) will be discontinued. Previously they were allowed for the following Mile reimbursements:
- Economy Class: 200,000 Aeroplan Miles
- Premium Economy Class: 250,000 Aeroplan Miles
- Business Class: 300,000 Aeroplan Miles
- First Class: 400,000 Aeroplan Miles
How Can Aeroplan Members Maximize These Changes?
These changes are most relevant for those who have already racked up enough Aeroplan Miles to redeem for a flight. Do you currently have enough Miles to take advantage? If not, take a moment to consider whether your current Aeroplan credit card is most suitable to your spending habits, and is allowing you to accumulate Miles at the fastest rate possible. If you’d like to make a change, the two cards that we recommend most for Aeroplan members are as follows:
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite® Card
The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite® Card is great for those who want instant gratification: This card will quickly deliver value with its generous 40000-mile introductory bonus, of which 15,000 Miles comes after a first purchase; 2X Aeroplan Miles on eligible Purchases in the first three months up to a total of 20,000 Miles and another 5,000 Aeroplan Miles when you add an authorized user before December 1, 2019.
Though this is the best sign-up offer currently on the market, the card’s earn rate—1.5 Miles for every $1 spent on groceries, gas, drugstore and aircanada.com purchases; 1 Mile per $1 spent on everything else—might be outshined by the alternative card below.
This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.
American Express Gold Rewards Card
Though not technically an Aeroplan card, Amex Membership Rewards points can be converted to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. This gives the American Express Gold Rewards card a very high potential earn rate: 2 points for every $1 spent on travel, gas, groceries or drugstore expenses; 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Compare that to the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite® Card’s 1.5 Miles per $1 spent, for similar purchase categories.
That said, the Amex Gold Rewards Card’s sign-up bonus is comparatively less attractive, as new cardholders might get 25,000 Membership Rewards points, but they do need to pay the $150 annual fee in the first year.
Is This an Overall Win for Aeroplan Members?
Overall I think these changes bode well for Air Canada’s new loyalty program, which is set to launch in 2020. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and we certainly have our share of suggestions for ways we think Aeroplan could be better.
Am I being too optimistic—what do you think about the new policies? Leave a comment and let us know what you think. And remember, if you’re not happy with the changes you can always contact Aeroplan customer service.