Important Aeroplan Changes Announced
Air Canada announced some significant changes to its loyalty program on July 17, 2019. The airline specifically stated that the changes are “designed to make Aeroplan more flexible and member-friendly” and are part of its “promise to build the most rewarding program in the country, launching in 2020.” While that all sounds very appealing, what’s the reality beneath the PR speak?
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
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.