Data: How Popular An Offer Was Aeroplan’s 1 Cent Per Mile Sale?

One of the early changes that Air Canada made, since re-acquiring their Aeroplan frequent flyer program and in advance of re-launching the program later this year, is the introduction of ‘bidding for upgrades’. Another change is that they now sell miles, apart from the redemption process, in partnership with Points.com.

This has been in the works for some time, and to promote the new feature they came out with an amazing offer selling miles for as little as a penny apiece. This pricing is largely unprecedented for a North American airline loyalty program, let alone a major one that’s a member of a global alliance.

I didn’t get in on the first tranche of points available at 1 cent each, and I didn’t get in on the second tranche at 1.1 cents either. Despite constantly hitting refresh starting just before the 10 a.m. Eastern opening of the offer, I wasn’t quick enough on the draw and the Points.com servers slowed to a crawl with all of the demand.

There’s still a 1.3 cent offer available through Wednesday, and that’s a great price, but I have a few hundred thousand Aeroplan miles already, and Air Canada and Star Alliance haven’t been ideal options for me out of the Austin airport for a variety of reasons so I haven’t pulled the trigger (yet).

I was curious to gauge the level of demand for this promotion. In theory a couple hundred accounts could have purchased all 110,000,000 miles made available at 1.1 cents apiece or less. So I asked Points.com and they shared,

We anticipated a tremendous appetite for this offer, but the response was more than anyone imagined. By 10:02 am, we had over 2000 Aeroplan Members trying to log onto the storefront in that same minute. The first offer of 115% bonus sold out in 8 minutes. And before the first hour was over, the 90% offer sold out.

I knew these bonuses sold out in an hour. They would have gone much more quickly had the IT held up and people like me were able to get through and buy. However it’s amazing they had over 2000 people at a time trying to buy miles.

That bolsters my confidence. It says a lot in faith in Air Canada (people believe it’ll be around, to be willing to buy miles), in Aeroplan, and a willingness to travel in the future so much so that they’ll prepay today in the midst of a global pandemic and deep economic recession.

I know I’m a buyer at these prices if I can get in on the deal, so I’m hopeful the make a similar offer in the future, perhaps it could make sense to do this as part of the re-launch of the program to generate additional excitement?

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 »

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  1. I think the floodgates are about to open… Maybe not yet in June, July August September, I think it’s going to be a lot busier than people talk about online.

    It will be really good to get back to normal.

  2. Rarely do I hear such optimism…and rightly so.
    Please Aeroplan, don’t ruin it with devaluation.

  3. It is a bait and switch like any other airline promo ever. Why would anyone be stupid enough to buy a currency when the seller has full and immediate control of its value and said seller is a “trustworthy” airline. Unless you already used the mile you have to be bat-shit stupid to buy. then again, almost half of America thinks Trump is some sort of genious.

  4. @Pete, they already announced there will be a severe devaluation (and dynamic pricing) with the new program. Its not like its a secret of if, its a matter of when. Luckily that got postponed from June, and AC IT is so horrible, it will probably take a lot longer.

    Think about it, they would never sell points at 1.3 cents, if the new dynamic rewards had a value of >1.3c

  5. Don’t worry about being left behind.
    You can still “buy” it at 1c a mile – everyday
    Use the Amex Business Plus card = 2 points instead of 2c cash w Citi Double cash
    50k max a year x 2 in 2 player mode = 100,000 points each year for 1c each
    Transfer to Aeroplan when there is a 25% bonus = 0.8c cost

  6. @Bob, it’s a cheap way to raise cash and improve liquidity. It wouldn’t surprise me if they repeat this since they now know the demand and travel continues to be below expectations.

  7. You just loaned a company that needed money badly money at no interest, with a currency THEY control. 2000 people may SOUND like alot, but really isn’t. I wouldn’t be stunned to see more airlines do this, as I am SURE people are paying more than the banks are buying the miles in bulk.

  8. @Ryan, “genious” is spelled as “genius.”

    Disagree with your categorical statement about Aeroplan mile purchases. It all depends – if one waits many months, then the likelihood is higher that miles get devalued, just like any other mileage program. Now, if you spend the miles sooner than later, then it is a great deal. Just booked the family to Indonesia for 77,500 in business per person one way in 2021. Certainly, one cannot buy such tickets for $775.

    Thank you.

  9. There were also people jumping in on WTI futures as it cratered. Does not mean it is a good idea

  10. Avianca just filed for bankruptcy after offering “cheap” miles for sale!

    What stops Aeroplan from doing the same!

    Just sayin!

  11. @Kalboz, BK Chapter 11 reorganization and LifeMiles not part of the filing, but certainly worthy of news.

    Air Canada is in a better position financially, and I assume Canada would not allow the airline to fail.

    In general, mileage programs are valuable for airlines, so, not to damage confidence (and value), they mostly get excluded from BK filings. That said, there is always risk in buying miles and now even more so due to the COVID-19 situation. Took the risk and bought Aeroplan miles with a redemption in mind.

  12. If Air Canada is going to go to “dynamic pricing,” then it’s pointless (no pun intended) to buy. I use miles for international business and first-class leisure travel. Dynamic pricing has made Delta Skymiles very close to worthless for me. Most of my mileage balance is now in bank programs or non-US programs, because that’s where the value is. I’ve even been crediting Delta flights to GOL.

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