Aeroplan Award Price Increases, Better Expiration Rules, and New Bonuses

Air Canada’s Aeroplan came out with announcements of several changes to its program this morning.

They’re improving points expiration rules, going revenue-based for awards that don’t have the same capacity controls as ‘classic’ (and partner) awards do, increasing the price of premium cabin international awards to several destinations, and introducing a new status program for points earning members (in contrast to the airline elite status program based on flying).

Overall I like the changes to expiration, the status benefits for mileage earning seems an interesting concept though isn’t especially rewarding, and I view the award chart changes as a significant negative.

Elimination of Seven Year Expiration Rule

You need activity in your Aeroplan account each year to keep miles active. But regardless of activity, any miles unused seven years from the time they were accumulated would expire.

That rule has been rescinded. So now as long as you keep your account active, miles won’t expire.

Award Chart Changes

Aeroplan is significantly increasing the price of some awards, and reducing the price of one-way awards on Air Canada itineraries.

  • Air Canada one-ways currently cost 67% the mileage of a roundtrip. Effectively January 1 that will drop to half the cost, as is the norm for airlines offering one-way awards.
  • But after gutting their award chart two years ago, there are further increases in pricing for some of the best awards.
  • And instead of rule-buster style “ClassicPlus Flight Rewards” on Air Canada flights, Aeroplan will be offering “Market Fare Flight Rewards” with variable pricing based on cost of a paid ticket. This is my guess about where programs generally are headed with their revenue-based redemptions. They explain that the awards will ‘start’ at 20% fewer members, and active members can get them for 50% less. But they don’t trumpet just how expensive these awards might get.

My focus is and remains on saver awards, and especially on Star Alliance partners for their forward cabin (and that’s how I use Aeroplan, as an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner).

Premium cabin awards between North America and Asia, North Africa, and Australia/New Zealand go up by about 20%.

New Annual Threshold Benefits for Earning Aeroplan Miles from Any Source

Aeroplan is introducing a tiered recognition program for miles earned from all of their partners (as opposed to elite status with Air Canada which is earned by flying).

The program is called Distinction and has three levels:

  • dSilver – 25,000 miles accumulated during the calendar year
  • dBlack – 50,000 miles accumulated during the calendar year
  • dDiamond – 100,000 miles accumulated during the calendar year

Details of the benefits of each level can be found on the Aeroplan website for ‘distinction’.

Higher levels receive increasingly bigger mileage reductions for rule-buster awards on Air Canada metal, as well as bigger bonuses such as for the Aeroplan online shopping portal. Overall, the benefits of these status levels don’t strike a priori as being especially compelling.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Aeroplan Changes Are Mixed Between Changing for the Better or Worse Air Canada’s frequent flyer program made a few helpful changes this week, including changing their expiration policy (now any activity will keep your account active and available with no expiration) and making all one-way awards at exactly half the price of a round-trip effective January 1.  Previously, they had a complicated one-way policy, where sometimes it wasn’t possible at all and when it was possible, prices were roughly 67% of a round-trip award.  However, on the flipside, they’ve increased the costs to fly in business or first class from North America to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.  Thank goodness I’m content in coach, but if you were planning on using Membership Rewards to book a premium award, book before January 1.  (HT: View from the Wing) […]

Comments

  1. The ClassicPlus rewards have always been based on revenue ticket prices, “Market Fare” rewards is really just a relabeling. The significant change is the tiered lower redemption costs for Distinction members (Aeroplan members who accumulate at least 25k miles.)
    Altitude members of at least Elite 35 status will still have access to the “rule-busting” enhanced availability for economy seats at a 100% premium. SE 100K’s have no premium and are also eligible for additional J reward seats.

  2. And don’t forget some of the highest YQ scam charges besides BA and VS etc. Another black day for AP. This program is getting worse and worse!

  3. Wild… I took a business class aeroplan trip to NZ in 2011 and it cost 100,000 points (needless to say – a massive bargain).

  4. So as an example 160K to the ME… 40K more than the others.

    Not worth my time. I sure hope the others are not on their way to follow this.

  5. Looks like aeroplan miles earned through co-branded credit cards (CIBC for us Canadian’s now… maybe TD in 2014) will qualify towards distinction qualification.

    I got an email from aeroplan today notifying me that I qualify for silver, I didn’t make a since star-alliance revenue ticket last year.

    Per the Aeroplan website “Eligible miles are miles earned in the Aeroplan Program directly at participating partners and include base and certain bonus mile offers. Unless otherwise indicated at the time of offer, the following miles are not eligible for Distinction status: financial card sign-up; bonus miles received as a benefit of the Air Canada Altitude program or Aeroplan istinction status; miles accumulated through conversion from other programs or transfers between member accounts, top-up miles, contest prizes, and reinstated miles.”

    I’m guessing from this that American Express membership reward point transfers won’t qualify based on the definition

  6. Even with the “Enjoy more rewards with Aeroplan Distinction” e-mail which came out today, I am confused. Is Distinction in addition to Altitude or a replacement of Altitude?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.