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Air Canada’s Aeroplan loyalty program has introduced a range of new features and benefits that will go into effect Nov. 8, 2020. Here’s what to expect.
Earn points based on how much you paid for your ticket
Currently, Aeroplan miles are earned based on the number of miles flown. Under the new program, you’ll earn Aeroplan points for Air Canada flights based on a combination of the fare class, your elite status and the price that you paid for the flight. Below is a chart showing how a person without Aeroplan elite status will earn miles on Air Canada flights under the new program.
Given the move away from earning based on miles flown, it’s not surprising that instead of earning Aeroplan miles, under the new plan you’ll earn Aeroplan points.
Every seat is available for award booking
Under the new Aeroplan program, every Air Canada seat that is available for purchase with cash will also be available to purchase with Aeroplan points. This includes every cabin with no blackout dates, providing a great deal of flexibility when you’re looking to redeem your Aeroplan points.
Updates to redemptions
If you’re looking to redeem your Aeroplan points for travel, the new Aeroplan program will use dynamic pricing for redemptions on Air Canada flights, meaning that the cost of a reward redemption on an Air Canada flight is related to the actual cash price of the ticket, along with cabin, travel zone (more on that below) and distance flown.
Although Aeroplan calls this “Predictable Pricing,” the result is that it will actually be harder for Aeroplan members to know how much they’ll be charged for an Air Canada flight until they are ready to book. Aeroplan does have a chart for Air Canada points redemptions, but Aeroplan notes that prices in these award charts are meant to provide a “likely range of points required for the flight you want” and that “just like booking with cash, the price of the trip in points might be higher than the range.”
There’s also a helpful Points Predictor Tool — another way to get a rough idea of how many points an Air Canada flight will cost.
For partner airline redemptions, the new Aeroplan program uses an award chart on which the number of points needed for an award ticket is based on travel zone, cabin and distance flown. Redemptions on partner airlines are set at a flat rate. There are only four travel zones used by Air Canada — North America, South America, Atlantic (which covers Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India) and Pacific.
Below are the redemption rates from North America to specific travel zones.
Within North America:
Between North America and Pacific zones:
Between North America and Atlantic zones:
Between North America and South America:
Although we are glad to see that Aeroplan has kept the award chart for partner bookings, the number of points needed for certain partner redemptions has increased. Below are some examples of partner airline routes that will cost more points to book under the new program.
LAX to Zurich (business class):
Currently — 110,000 miles.
New program — 140,000 points.
JFK to Hong Kong (economy):
Currently — 75,000 miles.
New program — 120,000 points.
Dallas to Sydney (first class):
Currently — 220,000 miles.
New program — 260,000 points.
Chicago to Rome (economy):
Currently — 60,000 miles.
New program — 80,000 points.
There are some routes where the number of points needed for a redemption will actually go down. For instance, a reward business class flight on United (a partner airline) from JFK to Honolulu currently costs 80,000 miles round trip. Under the new program this flight will cost 70,000 points.
No cash surcharges
The new Aeroplan program eliminates airline surcharges on any Air Canada flight purchased with points, meaning the customer is only responsible for paying taxes and third-party fees (including airport fees). For reward flights booked on partner airlines, you’ll pay a flat Partner Booking Fee of $39 Canadian per ticket. You’ll also be able to pay these fees with your Aeroplan points.
Pay with points and cash
Aeroplan’s new program allows you to pay using a mixture of points and cash, which gives you more options when you don’t have enough points for a redemption.
Aeroplan is introducing a feature called Aeroplan Family Sharing, where up to eight family members can combine their points for reward redemptions. The Aeroplan Family Sharing feature also increases the value of elite status with Aeroplan and certain Aeroplan credit card perks because if one member of the group has elite status or is the primary holder of an Aeroplan credit card, then everyone in the group benefits from that member’s preferred redemption pricing.
The bottom line
Though we’re not excited about needing to pay more miles for certain award bookings, the updated Aeroplan program comes with some positive features, including family sharing and reduced fees on award tickets, that we’re looking forward to using.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card