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Out with the old and in with the new. That’s what Air Canada is doing with its mileage program on Nov. 8, 2020. Though it will keep the Aeroplan name, much of Air Canada’s loyalty program is being revamped.
We broke down what you need to know about the new Aeroplan program here. But as we were digging into the details, it really stood out to us how great the new Aeroplan program is for groups of friends and families. From points pooling to incredibly cheap lap infant fees, here are some of the features of the new Aeroplan program that are especially beneficial for groups.
You can pool points with Family Sharing
Under the new Aeroplan program, Aeroplan members can pool points with family members to book redemptions sooner. Each member can opt into a Family Sharing group with up to seven other Aeroplan members.
One person, called the “Family Lead,” creates the pool and invites up to seven people to join the pool. Only the Family Lead and “redeemers” designated by the Family Lead have the power to redeem the points in the pool. Aeroplan requires members to stay in a Family Sharing group for at least three months. If you leave a group, you won’t be able to join another group for six months.
That means you should join a group only if you’re comfortable with your Aeroplan points being used by other members. Also, Family Sharing doesn’t necessarily mean immediate family. As Air Canada puts it, you need only a “family relationship” with other members in order to pool with them — a definition broad enough to include relatives outside your household.
» Learn more: A beginner’s guide to points and miles
Your whole clan can enjoy an elite member’s perks
There’s another reason that you may want to join a Family Sharing pool. If just one person has elite status or an Air Canada credit card, all members of the group will enjoy the perks that come with it.
For example, all Aeroplan elite status members and primary Aeroplan credit cardholders get access to cheaper awards on Air Canada flights through Preferred Pricing. That cheaper pricing will also be extended to everyone in the member’s Family Sharing pool. So just one elite member or credit cardholder can unlock cheaper award pricing for up to seven other Aeroplan members.
Lap infants fly cheap
It’s common for airlines to let a child under two travel with you for free on domestic flights as long as the child travels in your lap and doesn’t occupy a seat.
But when it comes to international flights, these lap infant rules can vary wildly by airline. Some carriers will charge a portion of an adult cash fare for lap infants, and that can be expensive if you are flying in business or first class.
Aeroplan already offers one of the best lap infant policies. Under the old Aeroplan rules, parents needed to pay between $50 and $125 Canadian — or 5,000 to 12,500 Aeroplan miles — to add a lap infant to an award ticket.
The new Aeroplan is even friendlier to young families. There will be no cost to add a lap infant on flights within Canada or between Canada and the U.S. If you’re headed overseas, the cost is only $25 Canadian (about $19 USD) or 2,500 additional Aeroplan points each way. That’s regardless of which cabin you’re flying in.
Gift elite perks through Status Pass
Road warriors may be accustomed to the benefits of elite status. But for people who have never traveled as an elite member, the perks can seem magical. Elite members get to skip to the front of the check-in line, breeze through security, wine and dine in a lounge, and then board before everyone else.
Under the new Aeroplan program, elites can gift this experience to a family member, friend or colleague through a program called “Status Pass.” Status Pass recipients will be treated to elite-like benefits on flights operated by Air Canada, including:
Three complimentary checked bags (per passenger).
Priority baggage handling.
Priority security clearance.
Maple Leaf Lounge access.
Priority airport standby.
Even better, the Status Pass benefits aren’t just for one passenger: Up to nine other passengers on the Status Pass traveler’s reservation will enjoy the same perks. That can make a Status Pass especially valuable for a large family or a group of friends.
When the Status Pass program launches in March 2021, Aeroplan 50K, 75K and Super Elite members will each get one Status Pass to gift. After that, Aeroplan 50K and higher elites will get the ability to choose Status Passes as a Select Benefit:
Aeroplan 50K elites: Two passes.
Aeroplan 75K elites: Three passes.
Aeroplan Super Elites: Four passes.
The bottom line
Aeroplan’s changes make the program better for families and groups of friends. The ability to pool points with other members will make it easier to accumulate enough points for a reward flight. Plus, if just one Family Sharing group member is an elite member or Air Canada credit cardholder, all members will get discounted Air Canada award redemptions. The downright cheap lap infant fees are going to make Aeroplan a go-to program for families, and Status Pass will let elite members share the experience of being treated like a VIP with friends or family members.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card