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Air Canada Aeroplan Rewards Program

Learn more about the new Air Canada Aeroplan Rewards program and find out how it can benefit you.

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If you’re a member of Aeroplan and fly regularly with Air Canada, you might benefit from the new and improved Aeroplan Rewards program. This program will be launched by Air Canada in November 2020 and comes with a number of perks and benefits for loyal customers.

Find out more about how the new program will set itself apart from its predecessor, and explore the ways that you can earn and redeem points when you book travel or shop with an Aeroplan credit card.

Quick summary: Benefits and what to watch out for

BenefitsWhat to watch out for
  • Book more flexible flights
  • Avoid paying carrier surcharges
  • Get more reliable pricing information
  • Pay with a combination of points and cash
  • Share points with your family
  • Enjoy more non-flight reward options
  • Take advantage of more perks with the Aeroplan Elite Status program
  • Earn points faster with an Aeroplan credit card
  • Partner flights come with a booking fee of $39
  • You’ll have to redeem more points to book certain categories of flights
  • You won’t earn as many points on certain flights as you would with the old system
  • Stopovers cost 5,000 points each

What is Air Canada’s new Aeroplan program?

As many frequent flyers know, Air Canada acquired the Aeroplan program early in 2019 and has made some major structural changes to the program since then. This means that customers can get more out of the program with more flexible flight options, no flight surcharges and more perks when you have Elite Status or shop with an Aeroplan credit card.

The new and improved program is set to roll out completely in November 2020, at which point the old Aeroplan website will be dismantled. With the new program, all reservations will be funnelled through Air Canada’s website or its mobile app. Aeroplan Miles that customers have accumulated from the old program will be converted to Aeroplan Points on a one-to-one basis.

Benefits of the Air Canada Aeroplan program

There are a number of benefits to Air Canada’s new Aeroplan program. These include the following:

1. Book more flexible flights (with no flight or seat restrictions)

Under the old Aeroplan program, it was difficult to book the flights you wanted since there were only a handful of seats put aside for Aeroplan members. This meant that some customers were forced to choose flights and flight times that didn’t suit their schedules. Many customers were also unable to fly during peak times (such as Christmas) due to blackout dates and seat restrictions.

With Air Canada’s new system, Aeroplan members will be linked up directly to Air Canada’s booking system, which is the same website that regular customers use to book flights. This means that there are no flight or date restrictions for Aeroplan members. That said, some Aeroplan partner airlines may continue to have a limited number of seats available.

2. Avoid paying carrier surcharges on flights

One of the biggest complaints about the old Aeroplan system was that customers had to pay very high carrier surcharges. For example, if you wanted to fly to certain destinations in Europe, you might end up paying over $800 in carrier fees even though the flight itself was meant to be covered by your Aeroplan Points.

To alleviate these complaints and make its flights more accessible, Air Canada has rolled back carrier fees (though you’ll still have to pay applicable taxes and third-party fees). It’s important to note that you’ll also have to pay a flat fee of $39 if you book with partner airlines. You may also be required to redeem a higher number of points to book your flight.

How much will this save me?

The elimination of carrier surcharges can reduce the price you pay out-of-pocket for your ticket by hundreds of dollars. On the other hand, you’ll usually have to redeem more points for flights to account for the carrier fees being baked into your base fare. This means your total savings in the end might be smaller than you think.

3. Get more reliable pricing information

With the old Aeroplan program, there wasn’t a clearly defined number of Aeroplan Points you would have to redeem to purchase a certain class of flight. This meant that it was difficult to predict how many points you’d need to use to get onto the flight you were interested in. From there, you’d also need to consider the cost of unpredictable carrier surcharges that could add hundreds of dollars to your trip.

The new Aeroplan program is a little bit more clear about its expectations for point redemptions. Its flight charts are split into four different zones with a different number of points required for redemption based on the distance you’re flying. With this new pricing, you may be required to hand over more points on average, but you won’t have to spend money on carrier surcharges, so it typically evens out in the end.

Will I have to use more points to get flights with the new program?

You may be required to use more Aeroplan Points to get flights with the new program. That said, it will typically balance out or save you money when you factor in the omission of carrier surcharges (which are now baked into flight prices).

For example, if you booked a flight from Toronto to London with the old program, it might cost you around 60,000 points and $500+ in carrier surcharge fees. With the new program, you might need to use between 70,000 and 120,000 points (which is more points), but you won’t have to cover the carrier fees.

Let’s break this down further. If every point is worth a minimum of 1.5 cents, you’d have to dispense the following amounts for the new flight costs:

  • For the flight worth 70,000. Since the flight is now worth 10,000 more points, you’d have to hand over around $150 worth of additional points for the flight.
  • For the flight worth 120,000 points. You’d be out around $900 worth of points if the flight you wanted to book was worth 60,000 points more than the original amount.

Keep in mind that the 1.5 cents per point is a conservative estimate as the value of points can range between 2 and 10 cents, depending on what kinds of deals you can find. This means it’s difficult to determine whether you’re saving money having to pay more points but not having to pay carrier fees. The number of points your flight “costs” can be the deciding factor on whether it’s a better deal with the new program.

4. Pay with a combination of points and cash

A major flaw with the old Aeroplan program is that it would only allow you to pay for your flight with a requisite number of points. This meant that if you had 10,000 points but the flight reward cost 12,000 points, you’d be out of luck until you earned 2,000 more points or purchased the points you were missing for an exorbitant price.

With the new program, all of that has changed. You can now use as many points as you want to cover a portion of your base fare. Then, you can use cash to cover the rest plus any taxes you have to pay. This means you can book flights on your own terms and you won’t need to wait until you have the exact required number of points before you book your next vacation.

5. Share points with your family

Aeroplan’s old program wouldn’t allow you to share points with your family members. This meant that if you had 1,000 points and your partner had 5,000 points, you couldn’t combine your points to get a flight worth 6,000 points. Instead, you would have to purchase Aeroplan Points to cover the difference or keep saving until you had enough to get up to the required threshold.

With Air Canada’s new improvements, you can combine the points you earn with up to eight family members. These will be added onto a shared balance that any person can draw from to book flights or redeem for other rewards such as merchandise. As an added bonus, if any person in your family is an Elite Status member or has an Aeroplan credit card, everyone in the family can benefit from their preferred pricing.

6. Enjoy more non-flight reward options

Aeroplan’s old program allowed you to redeem points with Air Canada and hundreds of its retail partners. In particular, you could redeem points for eligible travel products such as hotels, car rentals and trips with Air Canada Vacations. You could also use your points to redeem for everyday items such as merchandise and gift cards.

Air Canada’s new program boasts the same flexible points redemptions with an added twist. For one, the rewards catalogue will be expanded so you’ll have access to more non-flight rewards. You’ll also be able to exchange points for inflight rewards such as an upgrade to a higher cabin class or access to Wi-Fi services on board your flight.

7. Take advantage of more perks with the Aeroplan Elite Status program

While the Elite Status program was an integral part of Aeroplan’s old system, it didn’t deliver the results that its members expected. For example, it offered limited travel perks and you couldn’t share your privileges with family members. It also didn’t offer impressive discounts on flights and other points redemptions.

With the new program, Elite Status members get a ton of extra perks. These include priority reservation services, VIP treatment at the airport, cabin upgrades, free checked bags and lounge access. Elite members will also earn more points for flights than the average traveller and they can share all of their perks with family members. Based on miles flown, they can also earn up to 11 travel vouchers each year to get as much as 50% off booked flights.

8. Earn points faster with Aeroplan credit cards

While Aeroplan’s old program had a line of reputable credit cards, it didn’t offer as many benefits to its members. For example, it wouldn’t offer special travel perks to many of its cardholders. You also wouldn’t get a much higher earn rate on Air Canada purchases with the old range of credit cards.

With the new cards, all members can benefit from preferred pricing and extra points for Air Canada purchases. As you go up in card class, you can also enjoy a number of travel perks that are similar to those offered through Aeroplan Elite Status (without having to fly all those miles). Elite status members also get additional perks based on the distance they fly each year.

Check out credit card rewards here.

What to watch out for with the Air Canada Aeroplan 2020 program

In addition to the number of perks you’ll get with the new Aeroplan program, there are a handful of drawbacks you might want to be aware of:

1. Partner flights come with a booking fee of $39

Aeroplan’s old program didn’t have a partner booking fee since all flights were equal and Air Canada was only one of a selection of providers available. That said, it did have carrier surcharges that were often much more expensive than a $39 fee.

With the new program, you’ll have to pay this small fee to book with partner airlines. That said, you’ll also have the option of booking a similar flight with Air Canada for free. In any case, this is a step up from the hundreds of dollars’ worth of carrier surcharges you would have had to spend with the old program.

2. You’ll have to redeem more points to book certain categories of flights

The pricing for the old program was determined based on distance travelled and the fare type purchase for each flight. For most flights, one-way mile redemptions were lower than the points required to redeem with the new program. This is because carrier surcharges weren’t factored into the base rate.

With the new program, you’ll have to redeem more miles on average to book a flight. You’ll also have to dish out 5,000 points for every stopover you make, which can eat into your balance even further. That said, you won’t have to pay hundreds of dollars in carrier surcharges and you can pay part of your base rate in cash if you need to make up the difference.

3. You won’t earn as many points on certain flights

Air Canada’s old program let you earn a percentage of points based on the number of miles you flew. For example, if you were flying from Vancouver to New York, you would earn 2,427 miles since this is the distance flown between both destinations. For cheaper flights, you might only earn 50% of miles flown while for business flights you could earn 150% of miles flown.

With the new program, you earn miles based on the base rate of your flight times a multiplier based on your status and flight class. So if your flight costs $400, you might earn 800 miles for flying basic economy with a multiplier of 2. The same flight in business class might cost $1,000 so you could earn up to 3,000 miles with a multiplier of 3.

How many points can I earn for flights?

This table summarizes how many points you can earn with the new program versus the old program for a flight from Vancouver to New York. The distance of this flight is 2,427 miles.

Old Aeroplan program

New Aeroplan program

Fare class

% of miles flown

Miles earned

Base airfare

Multiplier Points earned

Points earned

Basic economy

10%

243

Not available

2N/A

Standard economy

25%

607

$181

3

543

Flex

100%

2,427

$281

3

843

Comfort

115%

2,791

$365

3

1,095

Latitude

125%

3,034

$1,633

3

4,899

Premium economy

125%

3,034

Not available3N/A

Business

150%

3,641

$821

3

2,463

According to the information above, you would earn fewer points with the new system on all flight classes except for Latitude. This is only one example of how earn rates might change, so it’s best to do your own analysis to find out how many points you might stand to lose (or gain) on the flight you’re interested in.

4. Stopovers cost 5,000 points each

The old Aeroplan program allowed you to book additional stopovers on your flights for free. This meant you could book a flight from Vancouver to New York with a stopover in Toronto at no additional charge. This allowed many travellers to push their points a little further on certain routes or get cheaper flights for adding in a ton of stopovers.

The new program aims to curb the use of adding stopovers to reduce prices or get travel freebies. To prevent this, Aeroplan will now charge 5,000 points for every stopover you make. You also won’t be able to add stopovers to any flights within or between Canada and the US. That said, you can book a stopover in this zone if your end destination is outside of North America.

Bottom line

The new Aeroplan program will be launched in November 2020 and comes with a number of new perks and benefits that are worth waiting for. These include much more flexible flight choices and no surcharges on flight redemptions. There are also a couple of drawbacks to keep an eye out for such as higher points requirements and lower earn rates for some flights.

Frequently asked questions about the Air Canada Aeroplan program

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