Even though the launch of Air Canda’s in-house reward program is around the corner, there is little detail on what that actually means. This has left many, myself included, wondering what is in store for Aeroplan 2020. What changes are coming? What will happen to my points? Is it all doom and gloom??
Let’s dive into what is known so far with Aeroplan in 2020, what’s staying the same, and what’s rumoured to be returning.
Getting to Aeroplan 2020 Hasn’t Been Fun
It’s been a shaky couple of years for Aeroplan, to say the least. First, Air Canada announced it was leaving the program, pushing many Aeroplan cardholders into purging their points. I stressed that it was too soon (and unclear) on what that means and to hold steady. Although that suggestion has yet to pay off, there have been some signs of life, the biggest being Air Canada’s purchase of the Aeroplan program.
Aeroplan members rejoice, right? Not so much.
Air Canada’s acquisition hasn’t been a smooth one. Just before the transition, a few changes came about. First, Aeroplan removed its second stop option, ultimately killing the Mini-RTW Aeroplan hack I have come to love. This was enough for me to cash in my points. On the positive, I have one helluva trip coming up that has me flying business class around the world, stopping in 5 continents!
- READ MORE: My Aeroplan Mini-RTW Trip Examples
That said, losing this extra stop is a big deal. The ability to build a trip with three stops, all for the same amount of points as a return ticket, was the best part of Aeroplan. Yes, September 1st, 2019 was a sad day.
No Status For You!
If that wasn’t bad enough, Aeroplan then announced that it was removing its Aeroplan Status tiers. This is less of a concern as I never found any value in it. It offered discounted point redemptions on flights, usually within North America, and slightly lowered some change fees. I’d like to say good riddance, but the loss of this status has yet to be replaced with anything. So far, Aeroplan 2020 has lost some serious value since Air Canada stepped in.
One thing I did get out of my status level was a priority queue when calling Aeroplan. This benefit was wiped out with the third hiccup, Aeroplan’s bungled alignment with Air Canada’s backend booking system. This resulted in messed up itineraries and horrendous wait times to call in to fix them. That said, call priority doesn’t do you much good when the call centre is taking hours to answer, if at all.
I have been dreading calling into Aeroplan, but have to as one of my bookings is messed up. I have a trip that now has a connecting flight departing a day before I arrive. 🤦♂️
Avoiding High Fees Became Even Harder
On top of these nightmare issues, those that have waited out the hours to get through to book stitched together itineraries are being told that, until the booking system issues are resolved, agents won’t be booking these complex itineraries. This is a double gut-punch as these routes are key to avoiding Aeroplan’s high taxes and fees. Because of this, I have been telling my clients to circle back in a few weeks when my help is once again helpful.
So Aeroplan is doomed, right? Before you go cashing in your points for a toaster oven, there are a few reasons to continue to stick it out.
Aeroplan 2020 – What We Know So Far
As noted off the top, there is little known about Air Canada’s new reward program other than it is coming…soon. Details have been vague, to say the least…
Thankfully, Ricky Zhang of princeoftravel.com had a recent encounter with Mark Nasr, head of Aeroplan. Ricky was able to ask some very pointed questions. He shared his on-the-record conversation in a recent video.
To sum it up, here are the key takeaways:
July 2020 Launch
July 2020 is the rumoured arrival date for Air Canada’s new program. Mark stats that all the program details will be laid out well in advance of this.
My Take – Better get cracking then!
Sorry, not Sorry
In the video, Ricky confirms with Mark that the horrible call centre issues all stem from the fallout of moving to Air Canada’s new Amadeus Passenger Service System. This move was necessary as a modern system is required for the new program. Hiccups were expected, and Air Canada is well aware. Mark’s answer to frustrated Aeroplan customers? Please bear with us.
It’s unclear if there are timelines around the fixes but is noted that month by month, issues are becoming less and less.
My Take – It’s good that Air Canada is acknowledging this but the lack of competition with awards programs in Canada is glaring here. There could be some sort of compensation for these issues down the line however, what is the incentive to keep Aeroplan users happy?
Air Canada is Introducing a Dynamic Points Chart
The bulk of Aeroplan redemptions are for flights within North America. Although this makes sense given Air Canada’s affiliation, it’s not the best use for your points. That said, Mark acknowledged the frustration Aeroplan members feel when they can’t find availability on these routes. As such, the new program will feature a dynamic sliding scale for points redemption for these North American routes. This will allow members to pay more points to unlock seats.
My Take – Although this will open up seats for those looking to redeem on North American legs, this makes poor use of your points even worse.
Award Charts Remaining for Partner Redemption
It’s not all bad news! It was also acknowledged that there is value for members to save up points to splurge on Business and First Class products on partner airlines. As such, a fixed award chart for those redemptions will remain.
My Take – YAS! This is where the value is with most loyalty programs. Aeroplan even more so as it has very attractive redemption rates for these products. That all said, even though Aeroplan to Air Canada points will be 1:1, I expect the mileage chart to change at launch, resulting in more points required for Premium Economy and above.
The Mini-RTW Strikes Back!
The best news of all the Aeroplan 2020 updates comes in the form of the possible return of the 2nd stop option on return tickets! Mark confirmed that this change was only meant to be temporary to help with the transition.
My Take – If this comes to fruition, I will get an Aeroplan tattoo...or whatever the new program will be called. Seriously, this would be great. That said, I will believe it when I see it. I don’t see the need for them to do this.
New Credit Cards (and Promotions) are Coming!
The great news continues! With the launch of Air Canada’s new program comes new credit cards. TD, CIBC, and American Express are all on board.
My Take – I expect to see some very attractive signup bonuses between these banks prior to launch. This is where the competition is so, win me over TD and CIBIC!
Aeroplan 2020 – Stay Tuned
All in all, thanks to Ricky there is finally some very positive news about Aeroplan 2020 and the move to Air Canada’s new loyalty program. I have been an advocate for Aeroplan for over a decade and am feeling confident in the direction it is going. Case in point, after cashing in my account for my next (and thought to be last) Mini-RTW trip, I have doubled down and replenished my account and then some.
And speaking of cases, stay tuned as I will be breaking down exactly how I was able to accumulate over 150,000 points in a few short months!