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A Review of Air Canada’s Aeroplan Frequent Flyer Reward Program

Aeroplan is Air Canada’s frequent flyer reward program that has been active since June 2005 when its initial public offering was completed. Being an independent entity, this program has become very popular and already has over 150 partner companies including financial, retail and travel companies. Members benefit a lot from earning Aeroplan miles but the biggest downside is that it fluctuates – their award charts increase too frequently. In June this year (2013) major changes were implemented in the Aeroplan program which many view as beneficial to the customer.

Earning Points

Passengers booking Air Canada flights have six levels of booking to choose from. Most fare classes offer 1 Aeroplan mile per mile flown, with the minimum being 250 miles. The program has elite level membership that earns passengers a minimum of 500 mile points per flight. Tango, the airline’s lowest fare, earns no status miles and just 25% of the miles flown with a minimum earning of 63 miles for flights within Canada or between Canada and United States. Tango earns 50% of miles flown for all other international destinations. The highest fare classes – Executive Flexible and Executive lowest get to earn between 25% and 50% mileage bonus for every mile flown.
Since Air Canada is a member of Star Alliance and Aeroplan is used by partner airlines, members typically earn 100% Aeroplan miles for every mile flown on these airlines with the mileage varying from partner to another and from one fare class to another.
Besides flight tickets, AAeroplan members can also earn points by spending money on partner establishments including car rentals, online retailers, hotels, financial services and credit cards just to name a few. The earning potential varies with the service or partner.

Redeeming Points

Aeroplan awards can be broadly categorized into two: There Classic Flight and the Classic Plus. Classic flight awards are controlled by capacity while the Classic Plus offer a wider access to more seats for varying mileage levels but they are available only on Air Canada and Air Canada Express.
The points required to redeem an air ticket depends on the category, class of fare and the airline. A round trip economy class ticket on Classic Flight within North America cost 15,000 for short haul flights and 25,000 for long-haul while a business class ticket cost 25,000 for short haul and 50,000 for long haul flights. If you want to fly to Hawaii, a coach seat will cost 45,000 miles while a business seat will cost 80,000 miles. Flights to Mexico and Caribbean require 40,000 points for coach and 60,000 miles for business and tickets to Europe and Asia cost 60,000 and 90,000 miles respectively for coach and 75,000 and 125,000 miles for business tickets. The miles required for Classic Plus flights on Air Canada and Air Canada Express vary and fluctuate a lot depending on availability, travel dates, flight time etc.
As of January 2014, Classic Plus and Classic Flight have one-way ticket awards will cost 50% of the round ticket miles cost and ClassicPlus will be replaced by Market Fare which will rewuire 20% less miles for redemption.
You can also redeem flight points for flight upgrades, infant flights, hotel awards such as accommodation and a wide range of merchandize and activities awards.

Pros

• Being a Stay Alliance member, Aeroplan offers its members the widest options of points earning and redemption on the worldwide carriers network.
• There are many non-airline members that provide even more ways to earn and redeem Aeroplan miles.
• As of January 2014, the 7 year mileage redemption policy will be scrapped.
• Flexible awards.

Cons

• The airline increased mileage costs for many awards last year that caused many complaints among Aeroplan members.
• Inconsistent changes in the program.
• Aeroplan’s fuel surcharge policy introduced in 2011

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