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The new Aeroplan rewards program is finally here.
2 years since announcing that they had reacquired the Aeroplan rewards program, Air Canada has announced what the new Aeroplan program upgrade will look like, and that it will be launching on November 8, 2020.
There’s a lot to unpack. There are definitely some great changes coming, but there are also some downsides. It’s not all beaches and bon voyage.
- The new Aeroplan program: pros and cons
- What we love about the new Aeroplan program
- What we don’t like about the new Aeroplan program
- New Aeroplan award charts explained
- Aeroplan credit card changes
The new Aeroplan rewards program: the pros and cons
The new Aeroplan program has some good sides, and some less good sides. To explore what the new program has to offer, you can view the details here.
|The Good||The Bad|
|No more carrier surcharges on reward flights||Aeroplan points will generally be worth less|
|Simplified points redemptions with every Air Canada seat available||A new $39 charge for booking on Star Alliance carriers|
|Partner airlines can still provide better deals||Stopovers cost 5,000 points each|
|Ability to use points and cash||You’ll earn less points on paid flights|
|One website for all of your online Air Canada bookings|
|Easier to understand earnings on flights|
|More stopovers allowed on reward flights|
|Aeroplan Elite and credit card member deals|
|Aeroplan family sharing|
What we love about the new Aeroplan program
Let’s start with the good news. There’s certainly a lot to love with the new Aeroplan program.
1) No more carrier surcharges on Aeroplan reward flights
The best part of the new Aeroplan program is that Air Canada is going to eliminate those dreaded carrier surcharges on Aeroplan reward flights. Previously known as “fuel surcharges,” these are extra costs you have to pay on any Aeroplan rewards ticket except North American Market Fare flights.
This is great news, as these charges start at $60 on flights within North America, and go up to $700+ on international flights.
Insane carrier surcharges single handedly destroyed the value of basically any trip from Canada to Europe in economy class – which is why you would incessantly hear people complain about paying nearly the full cost of tickets in taxes and fees to fly with their Aeroplan miles to Europe.
Simply put: it wasn’t worth it.
But now, not only will this reduce the taxes and fees you have to pay on tickets, it will also make your points more valuable as you’ll actually save more.
Read on to find out if flying economy on Aeroplan to Europe is worth it now.
2) Simplified Aeroplan points redemptions with every Air Canada seat available
Technically, every Air Canada seat is available through Aeroplan already, but it’s complicated.
Right now, you have 2 choices when redeeming for tickets – Fixed Mileage or Market Fare.
Fixed Mileage has limited availability, typically fewer miles required, and can be used on any Star Alliance member airline, including Air Canada. Market Fare can be used on any available Air Canada seat, but mileage requirements fluctuate with the actual cost of the flights.
With the new program? There’s one set of Aeroplan award charts that covers all flights (skip to award charts):
- No blackout dates
- No checking 2 places when redeeming
- Every Air Canada seat is available
But, there’s a twist to these new charts.
For Air Canada flights, there’s now a typical range of points required to book a flight based on 2 factors:
- The actual cost of the flight at the time of booking
- The distance flown during the trip itself
This range will give you an approximate cost but isn’t completely fixed. If you book your flight with short notice or during popular travel periods, like Christmas, the point cost can exceed the typical range.
To quickly estimate how many points you might need for a flight, Air Canada created this page:
However, this only applies to Air Canada flights.
For partner airline flights, there is a single fixed point value for every distance. This makes things easier, but limited seat availability is still a factor with partners.
3) Aeroplan partner airlines can still provide better value
You may have noticed that the point levels needed in the new Aeroplan program also show the redemption level for partner airlines.
Most of these have a fixed point requirement, and almost all are at the lower end of the points range.
There are a limited number of seats available when redeeming on partner airlines, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for them.
There’s one catch that we’ll get into later when it comes to redeeming on Star Alliance partners.
And while you still can’t transfer Aeroplan points to other programs, these airline partnerships extend their value well beyond Air Canada.
4) You can now combine Aeroplan points and cash
Don’t have enough points for the flight rewards? You’ll be able to combine cash and points to get your flight.
There’s no details on this part of the program yet, but it will make it easier to use your points towards reward flights.
And don’t forget, it’s possible to transfer rewards points from some other loyalty programs to Aeroplan if you need some extra points for that upcoming vacation.
5) One website for booking Aeroplan rewards flights and regular Air Canada flights
Right now, you need to use 2 sites for booking flights online with Air Canada – purchase tickets online from aircanada.com for paid flights, and aeroplan.com for reward flights.
With the new program, this will no longer be the case. Aircanada.com will be your one stop online shop whether you want to pay for flights or redeem your Aeroplan points for them. Nice and simple.
6) Earning Aeroplan points is now easier to understand
Right now, earning Aeroplan miles is a little complicated. You earn miles for every actual mile flown, on each segment in a trip. What you earn on that amount varies based on the fare class flown, and can range from 10% for basic economy in North America (which just changed, it was previously 0%) to 150% on business class.
It’s much simpler with the new Aeroplan program. Your Aeroplan earnings are based on the base airfare and carrier surcharges you have to pay, with a 2x – 3x multiplier tacked on.
Here’s what it will look like:
If you’re an Elite Aeroplan member, you’ll get an additional multiplier bonus, depending on your status.
This change won’t take effect until late in 2021, not in November when the new Aeroplan program launches.
7) More stopovers allowed on new Aeroplan reward flights
On reward flights, you’re currently limited to only one stopover. That’s also changing. With the new Aeroplan program, you’ll be able to get a stopover in both directions of travel if you so choose.
There is one catch to stopovers though, as you’ll see below.
8) Aeroplan Elite status and Aeroplan credit card member discounts
If you’re either an Aeroplan Elite member or hold an Aeroplan credit card, you’ll often see preferred pricing on flight rewards. This is a nice bonus you get simply by having an Aeroplan Visa or American Express.
There are quite a few changes coming to the Aeroplan Elite program, but we’ll detail those in a separate post in the near future.
9) Aeroplan rewards family sharing
Families can start pooling their Aeroplan rewards collection together. Up to 8 family members can group together, and you’ll share one large bank of points.
And, even if only one person with an account in the group has an Aeroplan credit card, anyone redeeming from the points collection pool will get access to the preferred pricing from having the credit card.
Aeroplan has made it easy to get started. Create a new Aeroplan account, and you can earn 2,500 bonus points once you earn your first points by September 30, 2020.
You can see the full details and register here.
What we don’t like about the new Aeroplan program
So, while there are some significant improvements to the program, it’s not perfect. There are definitely some things we don’t like about it.
1) New Aeroplan points will generally be worth less
One of our sayings when it comes to travel rewards is that with greater flexibility, comes lower value.
And this will most likely be true with the revamped Aeroplan program.
As seen in our examples below, point values were generally lower than they would have been under the old program. And even though our Europe option did increase in value, it’s still nowhere near the value for flights within North America.
Sorting out the point values will take some extensive research when the new program launches, but overall we believe that an Aeroplan point will be worth a little less than it is now.
2) A new charge for booking on Star Alliance carriers
Does your rewards flight involve a Star Alliance carrier? A new charge is coming your way.
You’ll be charged a flat fee of $39 if any part of a rewards ticket involves another carrier. It’s not a massive number, but we weren’t expecting to see any new fees either.
With that said, this is more than offset by not having to pay for any carrier surcharges for these reward flights. And with the lower point value costs for flights on partners, it can be more than worth this small fee.
3) New Aeroplan rewards stopovers cost 5,000 points each
While the number of stopovers has increased, you’ll need to pony up 5,000 points for each stopover if you decide you want them.
And, stopovers are no longer available on flights within Canada or to the U.S.
4) You’ll earn fewer Aeroplan rewards for paid flights
The new system for earning Aeroplan rewards for flights is much easier to understand, but the overall rewards earn rate is lower.
Let’s look at a simple trip from Toronto to Calgary, which has a flight distance of 1,637 miles.
Under the current Aeroplan miles system, here’s what you would earn for a one way flight, under the various fare classes, compared to what you would earn under the new Aeroplan points system, which is based on how much you paid for the flight.
|Old Aeroplan Program||New Aeroplan Program|
|Fare Class||% of miles flown||Miles Earned||Base Airfare||Multiplier||Points Earned|
|Basic Economy||10%||164||Not available for our flight||2||N/A|
|Premium Economy||125%||2,046||Not available for our flight||3||N/A|
In this example, under the new Aeroplan points system, the standard economy fare provided about the same number of points, and the premium cabin options all provided more.
But for the flex and comfort options, you’re earning far fewer Aeroplan rewards than you would have otherwise.
If you’re a frequent flyer who flies in these fare classes, you’re going to see a significant drop in the number of Aeroplan points you accrue.
New Aeroplan award charts explained
The old Aeroplan flight rewards chart for Fixed Mileage flights is being replaced. There was some simplicity to it, in that there was only 1 number for how many Aeroplan miles are required to travel to (or within) 1 zone.
That 1 big chart has been replaced with many smaller charts.
The new Aeroplan award charts are simpler in a lot of ways, but the flight distances and point ranges add a whole new layer of complexity in figuring out the true value of your Aeroplan points.
To help you figure that out, we’ll break down the before/after point values for several popular routes below.
Another big change to be aware of?
The points shown are for one way flights only – you’ll have to double the amount for a round trip flight. Now let’s get to the charts…
The world is divided into 4 different zones
First, Air Canada has broken down the world into 4 different zones.
There are separate rewards charts covering travel within each zone, plus more charts covering travel between all of these zones.
Here are the ones of importance to Canadians.
Aeroplan flights within North America
First, the new chart for Aeroplan rewards flights within North America.
Under the new Aeroplan program, for many of these, you’ll need more points to redeem for a flight. But, this is mitigated by the fact you’re saving more by not having to pay the carrier surcharge on Air Canada flights.
There are also going to be sweet spots if you travel close to the upper range in each zone.
So, how will this affect value? Let’s take a look at some examples:
Aeroplan rewards flight: Halifax (YHZ) to Vancouver (YVR)
A round trip flight in October would cost $797. For current fixed mileage flights, you would need 25,000 miles, plus $171.44 in taxes and fees for your flight ticket.
That’s a total savings of $625.56, and gives a mile value of 2.5 cents per mile.
With the new Aeroplan program, you would only have to pay $87.44 in taxes and fees since the carrier surcharge is now gone (it was $84), and your total savings would be $709.56.
But, here’s what you’ll need in Aeroplan points for the same flight:
For a round trip, you’ll need between 35,000 to 50,000 points.
If you only needed 35,000 points, your value for one point would be 2 cents, a bit of a loss.
However, if you need 50,000 points, your value is significantly lower – only 1.4 cents per point.
With that said, Halifax to Vancouver flight distance is just above 2,751 miles, so it won’t be the best value you could get from the new charts.
|Points Required||Taxes And Fees||Actual Savings||Point Value|
|Current Redemption||25,000||$171.44||$625.56||2.5 cents|
|New Redemption – Low Range||35,000||$87.44||$709.56||2 cents|
|New Redemption – High Range||50,000||$87.44||$709.56||1.4 cents|
Aeroplan rewards flight: Halifax (YHZ) to Calgary (YYC)
To hit one of the sweet spots, let’s look at Aeroplan rewards flights from Halifax to Calgary, which is under 2,751 miles.
For this trip, you would need to redeem between 12,500 to 17,500 Aeroplan points each way.
Right now, you can get round trip air tickets for $783 each. Under the current Fixed Mileage program, you would need 25,000 Aeroplan miles and $181.21 in taxes and fees for this flight.
That gives Aeroplan miles a value of 2.4 cents each.
Under the new system? That taxes and fees bill gets reduced by $84 to $97.21.
At the low end of needing 25,000 Aeroplan points for a round trip, that’s a point value of 2.7 cents per point – a bit of a bump.
At the high end however, you’ll get a value of 1.96 cents per point – not quite as good, but still better than what we saw previously.
|Aeroplan Points Required||Taxes And Fees||Actual Savings||Point Value|
|Current Redemption||25,000||$181.21||$601.79||2.4 cents|
|New Redemption – Low Range||25,000||$97.21||$685.79||2.7 cents|
|New Redemption – High Range||35,000||$97.21||$685.79||1.96 cents|
But while you’re losing a little value in some of these cases, you’re gaining much better flexibility. Any available Air Canada seat can be used at these mile levels. Previously, you would have needed Market Fare flights to gain this level of flexibility.
To Vancouver, that’s currently 58,600 miles. To Calgary, it’s a little higher at 59,850 miles.
With one chart for everything, this is all going to be much simpler.
Aeroplan rewards flights from North America to the other international zones
Here are the charts for travel outside of the North American zone.
First, to the Atlantic zone:
The Pacific zone:
And finally, the South American zone:
We’ll give an example to the Atlantic zone, from Toronto to London.
Aeroplan rewards flight: Toronto (YYZ) to London (LHR)
A non-stop round trip flight between Toronto Pearson and London Heathrow in October costs $839.
A Fixed Mileage trip isn’t worth it if you’re using Aeroplan miles. You need 60,000 miles and a whopping $749.03 in taxes and fees.
Not worth it. It’s a paltry savings of $89.97 for 60,000 miles, a value of 0.15 cents per mile. Yikes.
In the new program? 35,000 to 60,000 Aeroplan points one way, or 70,000 to 120,000 for a round trip.
The carrier surcharge is $470, meaning your savings are now $559.97.
At the low end of points required, it’s still only a value of 0.80 cents. At the high end, it’s still 0.47 cents. Not as good as our North American examples, but much better than the current system.
|Aeroplan Points Required||Taxes and Fees||Actual Savings||Point Value|
|Current Redemption||60,000||$749.03||$89.97||0.15 cents|
|New Redemption – Low Range||70,000||$279.03||$559.97||0.80 cents|
|New Redemption – High Range||120,000||$279.03||$559.97||0.47 cents|
With this said, prices for these flights are quite low, which is impacting the value you’re getting for your points. When flights and travel slowly start to return to normal, we would expect the value of the points for this redemption to increase.
Aeroplan credit cards changes
The new Aeroplan program is going to standardize the benefits offered among all of these. Aeroplan credit cards – including all Visa and Amex cards – will fit into 1 of 3 tiers, and each will have its own set of benefits.
Here’s what will be offered for personal Aeroplan credit cards:
Business cards will have 2 different tiers:
You can see the full details of each benefit here, but we’ll go over the major things we like from these lists.
Preferred pricing on Aeroplan rewards flights
This was mentioned before, but getting preferred pricing on reward flights is a great perk, and brings down the point costs for free flights.
Free first checked bag on all Air Canada flights
Right now, only the Aeroplan Visa Infinite cards issued by TD and CIBC get free checked bags on reward flights. Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege cards have a cap on the number of free checked bags as well, but this benefit applies to any Air Canada flight, not just rewards flights. None of the American Express Aeroplan cards currently offer free checked bags.
That’s going to change. For any Aeroplan credit card in the mid tier and above, you’ll get your first checked bag free, not just for yourself, but for up to 8 companions on the same reservation.
Worldwide companion pass
For the upper tier Aeroplan credit cards, you’ll get an annual companion pass when you spend at least $25,000 annually on the card.
For $99 plus taxes, fees, and carrier surcharges (they’re not going away for this), you can bring someone along with you on the exact same itinerary.
We would have liked to see this without the spend requirement, but it’s still a nice perk to have.
We’ll have more, including how to order a new Aeroplan card, very soon.
All of these details have answered what we wanted to know about the new program – mostly what it would look like, and what changes were being made.
And there’s a lot here to digest. But overall, we think there’s more good than bad to the changes that are coming with the new Aeroplan rewards program.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Aeroplan changes?
Do you have an Aeroplan account? Do you plan to start one now, if not?
Let us know in the comments below.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Air Canada’s new Aeroplan program.
Will carrier surcharges still be charged on new Aeroplan reward flights?
One of the best parts of the new Aeroplan program is that carrier surcharges (also known as fuel surcharges) will not be charged on reward flights. However, if you book on an Aeroplan partner airline, you will have to pay a new flat fee of $39.
How will booking new Aeroplan reward flights change?
Fixed Mileage and Market Fare flight bookings are being moved to one set of reward charts. There will be a range of values for different flights, and the number of Aeroplan points you will have to redeem will also vary based on the distance between departing and arriving cities.
Does the new Aeroplan program change how points are earned on flights?
In the new Aeroplan program, points will be earned based on how much you spend on the base airfare and carrier surcharges on flights, rather than on the distance flown. There’s also a multiplier added on, based on the class of fare booked.
Will the new Aeroplan program let me pool my Aeroplan points with family members?
Yes, in the new Aeroplan rewards program you will be able to pool Aeroplan points with up to 8 family members. Any family member in the group will be able to use points from that pool.
Will we see changes to Aeroplan credit cards with the new Aeroplan rewards program?
With the new Aeroplan rewards program, there are also significant changes coming to all Aeroplan credit cards, primarily that they will all have a standard set of Air Canada benefits. There will be 3 tiers of personal Aeroplan credit cards available, and each tier will have its own set of standard Air Canada benefits. All Aeroplan credit cards will be issued by CIBC, TD, and American Express.