Five Reasons Why Aeroplan Sucks

Fed up with Canada’s favourite airline reward program? You’re not alone. Here are 5 reasons why Aeroplan sucks…and one reason to hang in there. Read on.

Aeroplan Seat Availability Sucks

First up on this frustrating list of why Aeroplan sucks is the reward ticket availability or lack thereof. You have worked hard to earn those points and you get excited to book that reward ticket to Europe only to find out that:

A) there is no availability.

or

B) the routing sucks.

If I want to book a reward ticket from Vancouver to Paris, why do I need to connect five times on the way and spend hours in an airport or worse, overnight?

This frustration is amplified when looking for business class seats. Slim pickings.

How do I avoid this frustration?

Like almost all airline reward programs, Aeroplan inventory fluctuates daily. The best way to work around this is, unfortunately, checking the desired route daily in the hopes something better becomes available. Failing that I book the best options available and continue to check back. Should something better open up, I suck it up and pay the change fee.

Aeroplan’s Surcharges Suck

Next up on this list of reasons why Aeroplan sucks is likely the number one reason for everyone – the ridiculous surcharges that get tacked on. Let’s say you finally find that palatable route to Paris after checking back daily. You’re excited with the find only to click your way through to be rewarded with over $700 in taxes and fees.

What. The. Flight?

How does this make sense? I can book a seat sale for less. Shouldn’t reward tickets be, well, rewarding?

How do I avoid this frustration

This pain is all too common and the reason why I started helping book reward tickets for other people.
Through some tedious searching and digging one can build an itinerary excluding airlines that charge high fees.

When it comes to Aeroplan fees, not all airlines are equal. Here’s a refresher:

Airlines That Don’t Charge Fuel Surcharge on Reward Tickets

  • Air China
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss
  • TACA
  • Turkish
  • United

Airlines That Charge Low Fuel Surcharges on Reward Tickets

  • Air New Zealand
  • LOT
  • TAP

Airlines That Charge the Highest – AVOID!

  • Air Canada
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Lufthansa
  • Thai Airways

Aeroplan’s Website Sucks

So now that you know what airlines to avoid, how do you build a route that works? In short, a lot of clicking. Why? Because Aeroplan’s website sucks.

There is no easy way to build routes that avoid the high fee airlines. There is no option to select certain airlines or specific routes. Since I started booking Aeroplan tickets for others, I have spent weeks, if not months, clicking and clicking and clicking. Literally searching A to B to C, to X,Y, Z.

It’s ridiculous but, worthwhile to avoid those ridiculously high fees.

How do I avoid this frustration

Admittedly, Aeroplan’s website has gotten better. In 2014 when I was building my 2015 route of a lifetime, I had to search round-trip options even though I only wanted one-way flights. With the 50% points for one-way flights rule change came more flexibility on searching and clicking. That said, the website is by no means great and a painful necessity in booking an epic reward ticket. If all that clicking isn’t for you, let’s chat!

Aeroplan’s Hidden Fees Suck

Continuing on with our Vancouver to Paris example, after developing carpal tunnel from all the clicking you find out that you now have to call into the Aeroplan call centre to book your desired route. After waiting on hold for what feels like as long as it took you to find the flights, you speak with a human. He/she is able to validate your route and issue you with your ticket. Yes!

Then comes the final kick to the wallet – a $30 booking fee per ticket.

What the flight indeed.

Why would you have to pay Aeroplan for something you could do yourself if the website worked as it should? I gave up on that argument but have heard others getting this fee waived. To me, the value in the added stopovers makes this $30 fee acceptable.

The new Change fees, not so much.

As I recently found out on my Mini-RTW trip booking, Aeroplan has upped their change fee from $90-$100…per direction

Let’s say on that Vancouver to Paris trip you have to change your outbound flight to a day earlier. Let’s also say that on the way back you find a flight that is more direct and you want to switch to that. This means $200 in change fees per person!

This rule change certainly makes Aeroplan less flexible but as noted in changes I made to my Mini-RTW case study, there are ways around it.

Aeroplan’s Uncertainty Sucks

Last up on this list of why Aeroplan sucks is the constant swirl of uncertainty around it. For the last couple of years, Air Canada and Aeroplan’s partnership has been up in the air. When news of Air Canada‘s departure from the program broke, members begin unloading their points as quickly as they could. This was great for me as I had a record year helping people book flights. It was bad in that it probably lead to people I didn’t help overspend.

Although the turbulence seems to have lifted with Air Canada’s purchase of the program, what that exactly means is still unclear. Time will tell.

Yes, Aeroplan Sucks…But

This list of reasons why Aeroplan sucks is meant to highlight the many flaws in the program. Thankfully, all of these flaws are overshadowed by the programs awesome flexibility around stopovers and routing. As noted in my Aeroplan Mini-RTW case study, maximizing your points through extra stops and layovers is why Aeroplan is still one of the best reward programs out there. Although it has cost me plenty of time searching, it has made up for it in value tenfold. There is no way I could pay for all those business class flights straight up.

If searching for your own dream trip has you cursing “Aeroplan sucks,” let me help…


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5 Reasons Why Aeroplan Sucks

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