Curious about booking Aeroplan flights under the new system? Read on my first booking experience since Air Canada took over my favourite reward program.
The much anticipated re-vamped Aeroplan program has been around for a few months however, thanks to the pandemic, I am only now getting to really put it to the test. With an Africa trip pushed back a year comes the opportunity to rebook my Aeroplan flights under the new system. Here are my takeaways including what I like and don’t like along with tips to ensure you are getting the most for your points.
Booking Aeroplan Flights Under the Old System
My new booking, at least for the outbound portion, is very close to what I originally booked last year. The effort it took to find the flights I wanted, however, is drastically different.
As highlighted in past posts, my biggest beef with the old Aeroplan system was the high taxes and fees. The only way around this was to select flights and routes that avoided airlines that charge high fees. This was tedious work as the old Aeroplan system did not let you filter by carriers.
Air Canada was one of the worst offenders when it came to high fees on reward tickets and they were almost always the first option presented when searching for flights. The only way around this was to know the airlines that charged low or no fees and know their schedules. You then had to search for availability on each leg you wanted to make sure there were Aeroplan seats. Once you had all your legs compiled, you then had to phone Aeroplan, often waiting close to an hour to get through and ask them to piece together the flights you found. Depending on the agent you got, the results varied. If you did get your route booked, your reward was a $39 fee for phoning in…even though you did all the heavy lifting. 🤦♂️
Yes, booking Aeroplan flights and not paying ridiculous fees through the old system took some serious work.
My Original Aeroplan Flight Details
In this case study, I was/am travelling to Nairobi for a safari before continuing on to Johannesburg to hop on the world’s most luxurious train. Had I booked directly through the Aeroplan site I would have ended up with an Air Canada or Lufthansa routing through Europe and would have paid upwards of $900 per ticket in taxes in fees. Instead, after the painful process outlined above, I ended up with the following routing for just 75,000 points and $175 in taxes and fees.
- Vancouver-Montreal via Air Canada
- Montreal–Istanbul-Nairobi via Turkish Air
- Istanbul-Nairobi via Turkish Air (Stopover)
- Nairobi-Addis Ababa-Johannesburg via Ethiopian Airlines (Destination)
Booking Aeroplan Flights Under the New System
Since that booking (and eventual cancellation due to the pandemic), Air Canada took over Aeroplan. Along with that came some really great improvements. This includes no more hefty fees and a brand new booking system. This made rebooking the routing MUCH easier.
My New Aeroplan Flight Details
Booking Aeroplan flights are now done through AirCanada.com and uses the same system to book paid fares. There is an option above the departing location to select dollars or points.
After punching in the routing through the multi-city option I got some great options including Turkish Airlines new direct flight to Istanbul from Vancouver. This option not only removed the YVR-YUL leg on Air Canada, but gets me on Turkish Air’s new 787-900 business class, something I was set to check out last year but, again, pandemic.
Fees and Filters
Another great thing to highlight with the new system is it shows you, upfront, what the ticket will cost you in taxes and fees. In the old system, you would have to click through to the checkout to find out that your “free” ticket was going to cost you as much as a seat sale ticket for the same route.
In this example, the first leg costs just $99 in fees and 100K in points. If you look at the flights that connect through YYZ you will notice that they cost more in both dollars and points. That is because partner airlines operate on a standard rewards chart. Air Canada flights are dynamic and go up based on demand. This is, for the most part, another reason to avoid Air Canada when booking Aeroplan flights. Thankfully, under the new system, you are able to filter out things like which airlines to avoid.
I was able to add in a similar route as before from Nairobi to Johannesburg through Addis Ababa with no extra ticks or individual flight searches. So far, the new Aeroplan booking system is proving to be a huge improvment.
Multi-City Points Don’t Add Up
Just as I was praising booking Aeroplan flights through the new system, I noticed something off with the points required for this trip. The total came to a whopping 145,000 points per person.
I checked the route with Great Circle Mapper and confirmed the total distance is 12,184 miles. Consulting the new Aeroplan mileage chart I confirmed that the one-way flight in business class between the North America and Atlantic zones for this distance should be 100,000 points. So, what gives?
Phoning The Call Centre – Somethings Never Change
Now, even though the new online system is MUCH better. I quickly found that one of the biggest caveats with booking “complex” routes still requires you to call in and speak to an agent.
Under the new rules, you can include a stopover on a one-way route for an additional 5,000 points. This means my route should have been 105,000 points at most. Instead, the online booking system was charging me as if these two legs were separate booking. This meant calling Aeroplan to see what was going on.
Although getting through to an agent took no time at all, convincing them the pricing was wrong was another story. After 45-minutes on hold while the agent looked into it, I was transferred to a supervisor. She pointed to a vague sentence in the Aeroplan policy and said that the quote was correct. I challenged this again to which the supervisor reluctantly punched in my itinerary and then boom, 105,000 points.
BOOK YOUR AEROPLAN FLIGHTS NOW AND SAVE!
The supervisor eventually apologized and waived the booking fee normally applied when calling in. Still, it’s disappointing to see that this portion of booking trips with stopovers continues to be time-consuming and takes some convincing. It makes me wonder how many people are currently being overcharged for their multi-city itineraries. 🤔
If you are considering flying again soon (and you should!), you should book through Aeroplan before the end of the month. Throughout the pandemic, Aeroplan has been great at waiving cancellation and change fees. This, understandably, appears to be coming to an end. Flights booked after June 1st will be subject to change and cancellation fees. I suggest getting your bookings in before then as, worst case, you can change or cancel with no fees. What do you have to lose?
And, as always, if you need a hand booking your epic Aeroplan trip, I’m here to help!
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